Question: I am confused about this "morning after pill." What is the controversy about? Should I discuss this with my teenagers?
The drug is known as PLAN B One Step. It differs from the original Plan B emergency contraceptive in that it uses only one pill instead of the two doses required in Plan B. It uses a lower dosage of progesterone, so the side effects are smaller.
Plan B One Step is not the same as RU-486, the abortion pill. While RU-486 induced abortion by preventing fetal development, Plan B One Step prevents fertilization or implantation, depending on which study you read. It is 89% effective in prevention of pregnancy when taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, or 95% if taken within 24 hours, but does not induce abortion if you are already pregnant. It is not as effective as regular contraception. It is designed for emergencies only, hence the name.
Judge Edward R. Korman of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled on 5 April that this emergency contraceptive has been deemed safe for women of all ages, so it should be made available for sale over the counter (no prescription) for girls age 15 and up. This order was consistent with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finding of safety and efficacy, but at odds with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius' order that it be restricted to girls age 17 and above (also without prescription). This sets up a conflict between science and politics in the minds of some observers, but I see many other aspects of the issue.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced their intention to appeal Judge Korman's order. Before you get the impression that they are concerned about the age limit, or potential abuse of this drug, or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or the moral implications, etc., rest assured that the DOJ is far more concerned with a judge or the FDA countermanding an order from a cabinet-level member of the Administration, which it not to be defied.
This whole controversy is a health discussion with heavy political, social, and moral overtones and repercussions. It is rich with possibilities for discussion.
Parents are concerned because they envision 15-year-old daughters rushing to the drug store after a "date." There is concern that the choice to have sex at this age, thus shortening the innocence of childhood and adolescence, will be easier. Others argue that kids are sexually active anyway, so the availability of emergency contraception will not impact morals as much as it will the life trajectory of the child.
One could also make the case that such emergency birth control might have impact on the economy because illigitimacy is the leading cause of poverty. This is, sadly, something for which Spalding County has been highlighted in the press lately.
It is very possible that making emergency contraception so available will accelerate transmission of STDs by removing the procreative consequences of sexual activity. Sadly, too, Spalding County was also recognized as a leader in STDs recently. The potential rise in STDs is the same issue we saw in the 1960s with the advent of the original birth control pill and the age of "free love." In the words of Gary Morris, "free love cost us plenty."
Plan B One Step is advocated by Planned Parenthood on their web sites. This organization was founded by Margaret Sanger, the activist who sought to sterilize those she saw as "unfit," which included racial minorities specifically. Her vision was to make America a better place by eradicating minorities (non-whites) whom she considered mentally or physically inferior, a strategy called "eugenics." Despite the Nazi parallels, her organization to this day facilitates the abortion of racial minority babies in a 3 to 1 ratio. More blacks die in America from abortion by a 2:1 margin than all other causes combined. Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood is funded with our tax dollars, and I expect Plan B One Step to be pushed for girls 15 and up as soon as the web sites can be updated.
People are upset as well as confused by the drug and the controversies surrounding it. It is something that should be studied by all voting citizens, all parents, and, yes, all teenagers. This pill is a pharmaceutical Pandora's box.
My suggestion is to get informed and discuss this with your teenagers in the comfort of your home. Open the communication with knowledge, and address it in the context of faith, morality, and good sense that you want to instill into your kids. They are going to know about it anyway. Do you want them to get their information from school, or worse, their boyfriends?
I didn't think so.