Morning- after pill limits incite debate

by MaryEllen Cagnassola and Caitlin Flood
The United States Department of Health and Human Services denied the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lower the legal age at which women can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill. The current law allows women of 17 years and older to obtain this emergency oral contraceptive over the counter, but requires women under 17 to have prescriptions from their doctors in order to purchase the pill. Should women under the age of 17 be able to buy Plan B without a prescription?

CON- MaryEllen
The decision to veto this bill is, sadly, nothing more than another FDA decision that has been affected by politics. Instead of empowering young women to take control of their reproductive rights, this political interference in FDA lawmaking only creates unnecessary hindrances during emergency situations.
“I reviewed and thoughtfully considered the data, clinical information, and analysis provided by [the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research], and I agree with the Center that there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a public statement.
Tests executed by FDA scientists found that Plan B is only a contraceptive, not an abortion method, and that an overdose has no adverse long-term affects, making the drug safe enough for over-the-counter use. However, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, begged to differ when she eradicated the plan to sell Plan B One-Step for nonprescription use to women under 17.
“Sebelius’s decision behind the restrictions is not based on scientific evidence or safety, but rather is rooted in personal beliefs and political gain,” said junior Lindsay Reed. “As the health and human services secretary, her primary concern should be Americans’ safety.”
Since the creation of Plan B, pro-life advocates have been trying to keep the pill away from consumers, inaccurately accusing the drug of being “the abortion pill.” What these pro-life supporters fail to recognize is that, as they continue to put restrictions on the pill, young girls are aborting unwanted pregnancies because they do not have immediate access to emergency contraceptives.
When it boils down to the fundamentals of emergency contraceptives, the word emergency is key. It implies urgency—a dire matter which needs       to be resolved quickly—and since Plan B is effective in preventing pregnancy only within the first 72 hours, time certainly is of the essence. Having to spend that time scrambling to obtain a prescription is nothing short of a crime. A visit to the doctor is unneccessary when FDA     officials consider   the pill safe enough to be sold over       the counter.
For girls under 17, buying Plan B should be as simple as a quick trip to   the local drug store. The law preven-  ting this creates primitive barriers for young women  in a modern age.
“An unplanned pregnancy can change a person’s life forever, whether by the medical costs of an abortion or pregnancy, the pain of giving up a child in an adoption, by putting even more kids in foster care or by struggling to support a child. Plan B prevents these situations by preventing pregnancy,” said Reed.
PRO- Caitlin
by Caitlin Flood
It is completely practical that the Plan B One-Step morning after pill remains prescription-only for women under the age of 17. The need for this provision has become significantly relevant in recent years as 35      percent of pregnant teenagers choose to terminate their pregnancy, according to the National Abortion Federation.
This law demands that young women consider the future before rushing to a quick fix. Other options, such as adoptions or the seldom explored notion of assuming responsibility for one’s actions, won’t be considered when emergency contraceptives allow for hasty decisions.
“In order to obtain the contraceptive, all [a teen girl] has to do is walk in, sign a few forms and pay $14 to $19. She doesn’t need a prescription if she is over 17 or has someone who is over  17 with her,” said a representative from the Plainfield chapter of Plan-ned Parenthood, a clinic that offers counseling, family planning, abortions and birth control. This is exactly the type of easy access that enforces the mentality that a simple solution is always available. The Plan B pill may be marketed as an emergency contraceptive, but when sold over the counter at any drugstore, the definition of emergency could be blurred and the pill’s intentions abused.
This legislation also ensures that parents will be a part of the decision-making process. Young women often do not take their parents into consideration when making these choices, but when medication is being administered to a minor, legal guardians should absolutely be involved. “Girls are afraid to tell their parents possibly because they are embarassed by talking about their sex lives with their parents. If they were not requried to, they would probably avoid all possible conversation about the topic,” said junior Zoe Stein. The age limitation on the pill stimulates this crucial communication between parent and child.
Ironically, the Plan B pill should not always be a plan B. It alters the levels of certain chemicals in order to make the body reject a pregnancy and in some cases can cause cardiovascular problems. The pill has many temporary but adverse side effects such as persistent nausea, fatigue, headache, dizziness and pain in the abdomen. It should not be used regularly  and, ideally, should be completely avoided due to the unhealthy hormone changes       it causes.
The makers of the Plan B pill preach to a market of young adults that it is not the abortion pill, with scientific technicalities to back up its claim. But it is clear that the pill is nothing more than an abortion at the very earliest stage. It uses the  catch phrase to make women feel better about avoiding consequences and the moral injustice they are all too eager to commit. The law mandating prescriptions for women under 17 creates the time needed for contemplation and future planning and should be enforced as long as the Plan B pill is available.