On Friday, a federal judge ordered that the so-called “morning-after pill,” also known as Plan B One-Step, be made available over-the-counter and to minors without parental consent. The ruling led to three fierce debate topics: abortion itself, parental rights and political maneuvering.
No matter how you feel about the abortion issue, which is its own spirited conversation, the ruling accused President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, of making a decision based on politics rather than science or health. Back in 2011, as Obama ran for re-election, Sebelius blocked an FDA’s plan to make the pill “universally available.” Sebelius said the pill’s manufacturer didn’t demonstrate whether the pill was safe for girls as young as 11.
Critics at the time considered that position a ploy designed to distance Obama from a major controversy during the re-election campaign.
No, under no circumstances should politics get in the way of health…if that’s what was at work here. It’s a no-brainer that a young girl’s body is changing drastically during puberty, and if there’s not “sufficient” documentation that such a medication won’t cause any bad effects on that process, it should be studied further.
However, we then reach the question of how much testing is “sufficient.” (And we reach the more obvious question of who’s going to allow their 11-year-old daughters to be guinea pigs for this test!)
I’ve made my position on abortion clear in the past: I think it’s a terrible method of birth control. I think there are times when it is absolutely justifiable, including cases of rape and incest and situations in which a mother’s life may be in jeopardy. I also believe that it shouldn’t be up to the government to restrict a legally-passable liberty on moral grounds, because once you go there, one must then question on whose morals distribution of liberty are to be based, and what happens if the demographics of the majority change over time.
I’ve always seen it as the job of the family — parents in particular — and, where applicable, the church, to educate families about the right moral decisions.
But therein lies the most disturbing part of this: an underage child who has engaged in sexual intercourse and fears pregnancy would be able to purchase the morning-after pill over-the-counter on her own. It appears that parents need not be notified, or even involved, in any part of that process.
There’s something wrong with this.
If a parent is legally responsible for their underage child, the parent should be legally responsible for making this type of decision. If the child isn’t responsible enough to make the “right” decision about sexual activity, how can the child be expected to make an even heavier decision about ending a potential life that could result from that act?
Even cigarettes carry a minimum age requirement for purchases. I’m not sure how anyone can justify removing parental rights here.