Is No Girl Too Young for Plan B?

Posted: Apr 23, 2009 1:38 PM
Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration said it will acquiesce to a New York federal court's order to allow 17-year-old girls access to the “morning after pill.”  The FDA’s decision reverses a restriction put in place by the FDA under President Bush that prohibited girls under the age of 18 from accessing so-called Plan B birth-control pills.

What this means is that 17-year-old girls will now be able to obtain “morning after pills” over the counter with just an ID displaying their date of birth -- and nothing else.

What's even more troubling is that the judge also told the FDA to reconsider making the drug available to girls of all ages without a prescription.

Regardless of your views on the issue of abortion, the FDA decision and the judge's ruling raise some giant red flags.

One, the FDA has never approved that a high-dose of a drug be available non-prescription when a low dose of the same drug requires a prescription. The low-dose I refer to here is regular birth control pills. Birth control requires a prescription, yet this judge is urging the FDA to allow use of a more heavily concentrated dose with no prescription at all. Does that make any sense?

The reason why birth control requires a prescription is because women need medical oversight when taking it. The same holds true for the “morning after pill” – to say nothing of the parental oversight needed for girls accessing the pills.

According to Wendy Wright with the CWA:

"It can cause blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. Women who are sexually active should be regularly tested for conditions that may not produce symptoms. And under-age, sexually-active girls deserve counseling and help in case they are in a coerced or abusive relationship.

"Making the morning-after pill over-the-counter for teenagers denies medical counseling and testing to girls who need mature guidance. A thirteen-year-old who may be pregnant is also a girl who may be sexually abused and at risk of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease."

Two, the FDA may be trampling the will of states and localities and what they feel is best to monitor birth control distribution and regulation. In the United States, each state has different laws and policies about whether or not minors — anyone under the age of 18 — may get contraceptive prescriptions and counseling from a health care professional.

But in those states in which minors can not receive even a prescription for birth control without parental consent, minors will now be allowed to receive the "morning after pill" without not only parental consent, but also without a prescription.

This ruling blatently steps on parents' ability to protect the health and well-being of their minor daughters. 

As Wright further notes:

"Minors need permission to go on a field trip, get a piercing, or use a tanning booth. But now, by one judge’s order, girls will be encouraged to rely on an ineffective drug without medical oversight or parental involvement."

Another great example of putting politics before common sense.