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Opening Arguments

Never too young for a Plan B

I had a Plan A. I was going to be a great American novelist or a rich and famous standup comedian or a songwriter admired and respected by recording artists even if Unknown To The Great Unwashed. I had a Plan B, too, of course, which is, well, my Real Life as it Actually Played Out. Most people have Plan A's and end up going with Plan B, which is reality's wakeup call for good intentions, as in: OOPS! According to the Food and Drug Aministration, the age limit on saying OOPS! must ow be lowered:

The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it would allow 17-year-olds to buy the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B without a prescription, signaling a major shift in the agency's approach to a long-simmering issue.

The decision follows a ruling last month by a federal judge who rejected a Bush administration policy that allowed non-prescription sales of the pill only to people 18 or older, requiring younger girls to consult a doctor before they could get it.

Those who need Plan B did not use contraception, so they knew at the time they could have conceived, a possibility that is dealt with much better and easier before the fact than after. They obviously do not intend a long-term commitment with the object of last night's affection. So what exactly was Plan A?  Just "What the hell, and I'll deal with the consequences later"

This is not, administration pronouncements to the contrary, a reversal of the previous administration's habit of requiring the FDA to "let politics dictate scientific policy." This isn't about science. The science is that the drug has been tested and declared safe for its intended use. Letting 17-year-olds get it without a prescription is just as much a political decision as reserving that privilege to 18-year-olds.

Things can get a little tricky in below-18 territory. In Indiana, for example, the age of consent is 16. But the age of majority, the point at which you can leave parental control with no questions asked, is 18. So a 17-year-old girl in Indiana can legally engage in the activity requiring a Plan B but might have to ask her parents' permission to go to the drugstore to get it. Funny world, huh?

But the point is that leaving the age at 18 creates no ambiguities. Whether or not you think a morning-after pill is a good idea, youd'd have to admit that is being given to adults making adult decisions. Moving the age back to 17 makes it certain a lot of young women will feel liberated and a lot of parents will feel agitated, and maybe that was the whole point.


Michael B-P
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 10:25am

So then what exactly is the "political" decision involved in dropping the full access age to 17 (since only aged 18 and over can vote)? More money for politicians from the drug manufacturers?

Leo Morris
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 10:43am

Bowing to pressure from leftwing interest groups as opposed to rightwing interest groups.

tim zank
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 10:47am

Just another government tool to help to assure every child has the "right" to have sex with no consequences and that parents are never informed. It's like, ya know, a right to privacy issue, like in the constitution and stuff, ya know?

Keep in mind 17 year olds can't have an aspirin in school without facing expulsion, but they can schedule an abortion, pick up a 'scrip for birth control, pick out multi-colored condoms, or borrow a morning after pill not just without impunity, but with help from the administration.

Michael B-P
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 12:05pm

And in the true spirit of entrepreneurship and good stewardship after exercising your good fellowship and being of good sportsmanship but later discovering it was just more oneupmanship after taking ownership while contemplating a perfect storm of personal hardship, IF you change you mind one more time, remember, everything's just fine so long as you remember to say "I'm sorry," because NOW, there's plan "C":


Thu, 04/23/2009 - 1:11pm

Because every time Plan A fails for whatever reason (rape, condom breakage) those under 18 should be punished for it.

Also because the non-availability of Plan B was what was holding back 17-year-olds from having sex. Yeah. Sure.

Bob G.
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 1:29pm

Tim's right.
I have to remind my wife about that whenever a student feels ill in her classes...DO NOT GIVE THEM ANYTHING...not even a damn COUGH DROP, for God's sake!

I mean it is the best way to avoid several types of crap flowing your way...for all the "good" it's supposed to do (which would be none).

And that's coming from someone who had ALL his teachers available to either allow or dispense such "low-level" remedies, such as an aspirin OR a cough drop lozenge.

Hell, I'm all the way up to PLAN *J* these days...

I forsook PLAN B a long time ago.
Thank God, I did have a PLAN B for THAT!


tim zank
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 3:40pm

MichaelK42..."Also because the non-availability of Plan B was what was holding back 17-year-olds from having sex. Yeah. Sure."

Sooooo NOT the point. Education is one thing, encouragement, endorsement, and procurement are quite another.

Thu, 04/23/2009 - 6:36pm

Bowing to pressure from leftwing interest groups as opposed to rightwing interest groups.

In other words, drawing on experience and acknowledging the reality that kids are going to "do it" no matter how much you preach at them versus allowing law to be fashioned after the revenge fantasies of the bitter schmucks who couldn't get laid in high school.

tim zank
Thu, 04/23/2009 - 8:37pm

alex, you know kids are gonna drive too fast too, what do you tell them? ignore the cops? You know kids are gonna try to buy booze, what do you do, buy it for them? A lof kids are gonna want to smoke weed, do you buy it for them too?

Hell of a solution, just let 'em do whatever the hell they want. What could go wrong?

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 2:13am

Wow Zank, missing the point with all those straw men as usual.

When the consequences of not allowing Plan B is an unplanned pregnancy, where not only the mother but that child would suffer, is that proper "punishment" for a 17-year-old? Why make just them suffer when you can the child, as well?

I bet that fits right in with your moralistic revenge, doesn't it? And that end result is *just like* getting a speeding ticket or getting caught smoking or drinking.

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 6:48am

"Bowing to pressure from leftwing interest groups as opposed to rightwing interest groups."

And most of the judgmental cavemen in these parts still believe that a young woman wearing suggestive clothing who gets raped was just asking for it, because, ya know, boyz will be boyz and their carnal urges just can't be controlled.

And - wait for it! - let's not forget that most of these irresponsible tarts will probably use Plan B simply to fit into their prom dresses, ya know, like young women seeking abortions.

And because on Planet Perfect World, ya know, no one makes a mistake, no one is ever coerced into having sex, no one has difficulty obtaining reliable birth control, all females are madonnas in the parlor and whores in the bedroom, all teenagers have wonderful relationships with their parents, and teenagers don't even think about sex.

Michael B-P
Fri, 04/24/2009 - 8:04am

Well, as typically happens with the "hot button" issues, substance gets buried by hyperbole. But someone still needs to make the call on a non-prescription status for Plan "B," so here it is: since either position will be damned as driven by a political agenda anyway, work to reaffirm the prescription requirement in order to present on an opportunity for dialog on the subject between parents and those children for whom they are supposed to be responsible but who indeed have not yet attained legal adult autonomy. Nellie's sarcasm aside, her point regarding teengage sexual activity is still valid. However, rather than generally regard the prescription requirement as an inconvencience or burdensome imposition of law where it does not rightfully belong (although clearly one can imagine circumstances in which more harm than good might be done), perhaps it should be considered as a logical extension of existing legal status so that responsbility between both parent and child is provided consistent legal recognition in those venues where the matter will be brought forth for judicial resolution.

tim zank
Fri, 04/24/2009 - 9:02am

Michaelk42...Those are not straw man arguments or examples at all. Kids take all kinds of chances, because they don't yet have the requisite reasoning capabilities to realize consequences. As parents, we are duty bound to discourage risky behavior. Come back and argue about kids when you have a couple and you aren't still one.

Bob G.
Fri, 04/24/2009 - 9:55am

Tim's not missing the point...(quite the reverse), and "if' (big if) there is any ERROR to be found in his assessment, it's that's he's ERRING on the SIDE OF CAUTION.

Never seen THAT bother anyone all that much.
And it makes good sense.
Anything less would be folly.

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 10:18am

If they're not examples, what are they then, Zank?

There's a difference between "discouraging" and "punishing."

We're not just talking about kids with good parents where bringing them in would be positive or even helpful. There needs to be protection for the kids that don't have that.

Nellie understands that.

You stay classy with the personal insults there, Zank. That's how we know we're getting to you.

Michael B-P
Fri, 04/24/2009 - 12:08pm

Understood about the distinction you are trying to make, and most would probably be appreciative of protection for those under the age of 17 who live in a less-than-ideal home environment. But are you trying to say that it is in eveyone's best interests to therefore provide universal unsupervised access to PlanB and to therefore include those teenagers from a more advantaged situation to fully and freely exercise the same option? That does not seem prudent, given that they are still in fact the responsbility of their parents. And, as has been pointed out ealier, it is would also appear to be legally inconsistent and immerse society in the legal ambiguities referred to earlier.