“With Plan B, they can do it now and deal with it later.”
May 3, 2009 § 12 Comments
Hey, Mike Galanos? Shut the fuck up. Your “commentary” on the tyranny of 17-year-old girls (a.k.a. me) having access to emergency contraception is naive, elitist, and contrived.
In a matter of weeks, teenage girls, just 17 years old, will be able to get their hands on the “morning after pill” without ever talking to a doctor and without their parents ever knowing or being a part of this major decision.
The pills are in my HOT LITTLE HANDS! And one day I will rule the world with them.
Think of a 17-year-old girl. Most of the time she’s a high school senior, still living at home with Mom and Dad. She still needs her parents in the tough times. But they will be cut out of a traumatic situation. All thanks to U.S. District Judge Edward Korman. Korman stated in his order, “The record shows that FDA officials and staff both agreed that 17-year-olds can use Plan B safely without a prescription.”
Why oh why would Korman say that it’s safe for teens to use emergency contraception without a prescription? Gee, maybe because there was no medical evidence from the start that the pill could be dangerous to women under the arbitrarily chosen golden age of 18. It’s more than obvious that the conservative movement to restrict access is not about the health and safety of teenage women, but about legislating who is and isn’t allowed to have sex.
I’m very much like the ghost girl Galanos describes: I’m 17, not a senior but a junior (gasp! so young!), and yes, I do “still need my parents in the tough times” (gotta loathe that Lifetime-esque word choice). But here’s the difference between me and Galanos: I trust young women. I know that we are the only ones who can be sure if our parents are trustworthy, if they’ll support us through whatever “major decision” we make. In an ideal world, of course we’d talk to our parents, not just if we needed to take Plan B, but about all that messy sex stuff: attraction, consent, myriad birth control options, pleasure. But our world is far from ideal. Far too many parents are abusive or just inconsiderate for Galanos’ mandate to hold any value in real life.
And the larger point is, society must help parents, not undermine their rights by keeping them in the dark on their child’s life-changing decision.
Oh, word? You’re playing that card? It works both ways, Galanos. I vote for a culture in which the rights of parents and teenagers are respected, where each side is honest and informed and open-minded. I vote for a culture in which the person in the hot seat – the young woman, in this case – has the ultimate right of choice.
The [pill] is 89 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when it’s taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood applauds the now broader access to this drug, calling it “a strong statement to American women that their health comes before politics.” I question that, when we are cutting a doctor out of the decision to administer a powerful drug. Timing is essential to the drug’s effectiveness, Plan B supporters say, so getting parents and doctors involved would unnecessarily delay the teen’s ability to pop the pill the “morning after.” Does it really take that long to get a prescription?
Uh…YES. If I get sick, there’s a good chance that my pediatrician can see me within a few days on short notice, but not always. If I needed an appointment to get an EC prescription – if time was a particularly important factor – I’m pretty sure they’d rush me in, but this is a private practice with affluent clients. Who knows what the situation is like for other women? I certainly don’t – but unlike Galanos, I don’t make huge assumptions about that sort of thing. Galanos is effectively asking, “Why are we expanding quick access, when it’s somewhat likely that most women will probably be able to get a prescription within the very small time slot?” What he should be asking is, “How can we make this powerful option available to every single woman who might want it?”
But let’s get back to the first point: We are making it available to high school girls. We’re enabling teenagers to act carelessly with an easy way out. During a recent discussion on my show, Jackie Morgan MacDougall, supervising producer of the Web site Momlogic.com, said it best. “Teenagers are known for thinking they’re untouchable and here we are saying that they can continue to do that and that there aren’t any consequences.” With Plan B, they can do it now and deal with it later.
Don’t tell me high school dynamics won’t play in here. The boyfriend will talk his girlfriend into unprotected sex with the promise of buying the “morning after pill” the next day. Any 17-year-old boy will be able to buy this drug, just as any 17-year-old girl will.
Yes, this could encourage unprotected sex and that means a greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases. What about the 17-year-old girl who may get Plan B for her 15-year-old sophomore friend? These are the kind of decisions high school girls will make.
Korman didn’t stop there. He asked the FDA to consider making Plan B available to girls of any age. That’s a slippery slope and what’s worse, the ones who will fall are our daughters.
Dear readers, I wish I had a witty antidote to this sexist, ageist, slut-shaming, sorry excuse for logic. Unfortunately, I’m only human.