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Ruling Makes ‘Morning-After Pill’ Accessible to Minors

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.

4 Comments

  1. The sole purpose of Plan B is to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in a case where other contraceptive measures, if applied at all, may have failed. It prevents fertilization. This is all that it does. It does not terminate an existing pregnancy.
    I understand why morals may lead some people to object to termination of a pregnancy. But we’re not talking about that. Plan B is taken to prevent an unwanted pregnancy from happening in the first place. Clearly, sex has been had, and contraceptives failed or weren’t used. What exactly is the “decision” that a parent should make in this situation before a minor can buy a Plan B? To make a determination as to whether their underage child should risk getting pregnant or not? Should this really even be up for debate? Why would any parent whose child finds herself in this situation _not_ want them to take such a measure, unless on moral grounds? Should they be notified? Maybe. Should they have a say in the matter? No.
    There are many areas of life in which parents’ moral guidance should probably override the misguided decisions made by their inexperienced offspring, such as when facing responsibility for criminal acts. However, reproduction is so personal and has such life-long consequences that it should not fall under the purview of someone else’s morals or religious beliefs, regardless of age.

  2. You have clearly not met many of the parents (or rather “parents”) I see at work, and elsewhere. Much of the time the older kids have more sense than the adult(s) in getting through life. I trust a teenage girl who fears that she might be pregnant–regardless of how that came about–way more than I’d trust her non-custodial parent who hasn’t seen her in 5 months, or the parent who goes to the bars after work every day of the week until 10 or later leaving kids at home, or the parent who…
    Don’t get me started. There are a L O T of kids whose parents are not equipped to make decisions for their children, or in their children’s best interest. Those are also often the kids who end up in a situation where they would need Plan B.  And frankly, even though I came up in a great family, if I had been a teenage girl afraid I was pregnant, I would TOTALLY get the pill without telling Mom, or God forbid, Dad! If I’m old enough to get pregnant and have a kid, I think I’m old enough to decide I’m not ready to have a kid!!

  3. I think there are problems with parental notification in some instances.  When a parent is the one who is potentially impregnating a young woman, then she should not have to get a parent’s permission for the morning after pill.  If a young woman is a victim of rape and has such a bad relationship with her parents that she feels she will be blamed by them, then she should not have to go to her parents for permission to obtain the morning after pill.
    I’ll admit that these are rare instances but I think in most loving households a young woman would feel free to talk to at least one of her parents about her situation so this would not affect those situations.
    One does not suddenly become an adult at some magical age regardless of the laws we pass.  It is a gradual process. Regardless, I believe, 16 would be the age of consent for sexual activity in most states.  This coincides with the legal age to get a drivers license, as well. While a 16 year-old is still a minor, they are not the same as an 8 year-old.  A parent is not held responsible for their child’s speeding ticket, after all.  The driver who did the speeding is.
    Let’s keep in mind, as well, that if a “child” is old enough to have consensual intercourse with someone, then she is old enough to obtain birth control or the morning after pill if something goes wrong.  I believe most free clinics that administer birth control pills will give them to a 16 year-old without her parent’s knowledge and I think that is how it should be.  After all, she will be the one who has to face the consequences of her actions..
    In an ideal world, no young woman would need to be put in this sort of situation but we don’t live in that world. We live in this one so we need to base our decisions on that reality.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.