I'm steaming mad, disheartened, and dismayed all at the same time. It's a betrayal of women and scientific integrity.
NPR reports that Obama said,
"I will say this, as the father of two daughters. 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. And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old go 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. And I think most parents would probably feel the same way."All the blather about 10-11 year olds having access to EC next to the candy is something I would expect to hear from Bill O'Reilly — not Obama!! For God's sake, Plan B costs $50!! Where is the uproar over the fact that for much less money, 10 and 11 year olds can walk into a drugstore today and buy a bottle of Tylenol or Nyquil, and down the whole thing in one sitting and potentially kill themselves? Where is the concern over 10 and 11 year olds giving birth, which IS a health risk?
"Teen pregnancy" occurs among older teens — with 2/3 of all teen pregnancies are among 18-19 year-olds, approximately 1/3 among 15-17 year olds, and very few among teens 14 and younger. So getting back to points that actually are worth discussing, because they occur in reality -- not just in scary visions of sexually active 10 and 11 year old girls -- preventing EC from being available over the counter for all, means that women 17 and older have to show ID to get it, which means they have to approach the pharmacist and face stigma and/or opposition. This happens, even in the California Bay Area. Also, many young adult women do not have any form of ID they can use to prove their age, so how do they get EC?
Some have said that setting the science aside, the ruling should be debated because of parents' discomfort. Government sometimes has to represent the interests of the underserved, and in this case that is young women under 17 — not parents. The government cannot successfully mandate good communication between teens and their parents. It won't work, and it puts the most vulnerable teens (those who cannot talk to their parents for good reasons) at risk. Women get thrown under the bus again.
And there is no way this was Kathleen Sebelius's decision. I wish she had pushed back on Obama, but I'm not in her shoes, so I will try not to judge her. It's hard, though.