Kathryn Lopez

Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association, asks the obvious question: "Teens would benefit from physicians' counsel, which encourages them to wait for sex -- or choose abstinence again if they are currently sexually active. The authoritative counsel of a physician can be persuasive. Why not write a policy that encourages physicians to use their influence to guide teens to avoid all the risks related to sex?"

Some common ground may still be within reach. This particular recommendation, as it happens, might be a step too far for even the Obama administration. Earlier this year, when the Department of Health and Human Services overruled a Federal Drug Administration recommendation that Plan B be made available over the counter, none other than the president himself declared: "I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine ... (The government is not) confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able, alongside bubble gum or batteries, be able to buy a medication that potentially if not used properly could end up having an adverse effect."

Could we actually take a few steps back together here, toward something healthier than a wholesale surrender of innocence, medicine, and common sense? A cultural second opinion, perhaps? It will require a little critical perseverance in the face of attractive, distracting rhetoric about health and freedom. If we're truly acting "for the children," can we afford anything less?

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.