A teen speaks out on the emergency contraception controversy says, “Obama, stop patronizing me!”
On Wednesday, the administration lost that battle, in part, when the Food and Drug Administration was ordered to immediately make two-dose emergency contraception available over-the-counter without an age restriction. The administration is continuing to appeal age restrictions for one-dose emergency contraception, like Plan B One-Step.
Why would the Obama administration support such restrictions, which not only put the health and lives of young women at risk, but also further disable young women from taking control of our sexuality with the empowerment and liberation that many of us wish for?
Placing an age limit on emergency contraception is simply discrimination. For example, while the administration’s plan allows women age 15 and up to purchase emergency contraception, it says that a store clerk must first verify a woman’s age before she is allowed to buy the drug. For many but not all adults, proof of age is a non-issue if they have driver’s licenses or state-issued identification at the ready. But let’s be real: Many 15-year-olds, and for that matter women of all ages, do not have licenses, permits, or other forms of easily accessible government identification. In Maryland, where I live, teens can’t apply for a learner’s permit until they are 15 years and nine months old. If my own experience is any judge, I was late in getting my permit and then promptly lost it for a stretch of time. Under the rule the Obama administration wanted to impose, my mistake would require me to lug in a passport or a birth certificate to get completely safe and time-sensitive medicine. Digging through documents is not always practical when emergency contraception should be taken as soon as possible for maximum effectiveness.
The age restriction also fails to acknowledge that—spoiler alert—young people have sex. While only 13 percent of teens have had sex by age 15, that’s still more than one in ten teens who deserve the same protection and health-care services that women of other ages receive. If we continue to ignore the reality that young people can and will be sexual, we will have no choice but to contend with even more teens with children of their own.
Many young teenagers who have sex are painted by conservative political and religious rhetoric as misguided and troubled girls. But of the young women I know who had sex by age 15, most are happy teenagers who, just like many older adults, chose responsible partners and used appropriate birth control options. Sure, there are some 15-year-olds who have sex recklessly and irresponsibly, but aren’t there 45-year-olds who do the same?
10 Reasons Why the Obama Administration Is Wrong on Emergency Contraception
1. Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. EC offers a last chance to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or birth control failure.
2. The administration wants to make EC available only to individuals age 15 and older. How many people do you know who are younger than 16 and have state-issued IDs with their actual birth date? Under the Obama-supported plan, these young people would have to hold passports to purchase EC, a ridiculous requirement given that less than 5 percent of all Americans—of any age—have passports.
3. Several studies have determined that no deaths or serious complications have been causally linked to EC.
4. There are no situations in which the risks of using combined or progestin-only EC outweigh the benefits.
5. Scientists have concluded that “repeated use of EC is safer than pregnancy, in particular when the pregnancy is unintended and women do not have access to safe early abortion services.”
6. One challenge to making EC more widely available is the belief that women may be less diligent with their ongoing contraception. But regular use of EC is far less effective than other contraceptive methods. I think women understand that “E” stands for “emergency” and will behave accordingly.
7. One study demonstrated that educating teens about EC does not increase their sexual activity levels or use of EC, but it does increase their knowledge about proper administration of the drug.
8. Emergency contraception is sold over the counter in six countries and can be obtained directly from a pharmacist, without a prescription, in 54 countries.
9. Many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine support making Plan B available over-the-counter without restrictions.
10.When the Obama administration made its December 2011 decision to limit access to EC, it went against the recommendations of medical professionals who’d spent years researching this issue. As Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg put it:
The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the data supported a finding that adolescent females could use Plan B One-Step properly without the intervention of a healthcare provider.
The Right to Vote Affects the Power to Choose: How Voter Suppression in 2012 Will Erode Reproductive Rights
There is power in a woman’s right to vote.
Since 1984, women have been the majority of the total vote in every presidential election. This year, millions of women will stand in line and prepare themselves to decide who will serve in state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress. They will decide who sits on the local school board and who becomes the next President of the United States. They will also decide who shapes the future of reproductive health and rights for all women in this country. The power to preserve and expand reproductive rights is inextricably tied the right to vote.
But what is power if your ability to leverage that power is stripped away?
That’s just what Republican-led state legislatures across the country are poised to do. Since 2010 state legislatures with Republican majorities have introduced and passed restrictive laws with the potential — and many argue the intent — of forcing widespread voter suppression, and to disenfranchise women, people of color, students, the elderly, and low-income communities.
A Pyrrhic Victory? In ACA Ruling, Roberts Court Takes Big Swipe At Social Safety Net
When the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act first started taking form, the assertion that Congress did not have the power to regulate the health insurance industry under either the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause was largely seen as an academic argument that had percolated in law schools thanks to a robust presence of the Federalist Society. After all, how could an industry that accounts for approximately 16 percent of economic activity in this country be said not to affect interstate commerce? Of course it can be regulated. Under the even the most cynical view opponents of the Affordable Care Act peddled these arguments simply as political cover for the Court to invalidate the law since the tension between the Obama administration and the conservative wing of the Roberts Court was nearly palpable.
The Court declined the political cover, a fact I think speaks loudly to the rumors that Chief Justice Roberts was concerned about the partisanship and rancor brewing within and around the Court, and the implications of this for his legacy. But the Chief Justice hardly “joined the liberal wing” of the Court in upholding the law. In fact, his decision gives conservatives a potentially significant tool to further attack the social safety net in its limitation of the Commerce Clause. People, for reasons of their own, often fail to do things that would be good for them or good for society. Those failures—joined with the similar failures of others—can readily have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Under the Government’s logic, that authorizes Congress to use its commerce power to compel citizens to act as the Government would have them act.