Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Ironic-Contraception Affair

Normally, I’m a staunch defender of President Obama. But he really, and tragically, goofed on this one. And his reasoning makes me all the madder about it.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his health secretary's decision to stop the Plan B morning-after pill from moving onto drugstore shelves next to the condoms.

"As the father of two daughters," he said, "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." The president spoke the morning after his administration stunned major doctors' groups and women's health advocates with the decision. ...

For now, Plan B will stay behind pharmacy counters, available without a prescription only to those 17 and older who can prove their age.

I’m not a parent, and maybe I’d agree if I was. But that is exactly what bugs me about this: that Obama backs such a decision because of paternal sensitivity. Has being reactionary ever made a situation less complicated?

If he or any other parent is worried about this, then they should have a dialogue with their children. I don’t think the answer is to err on the side of blocking access. Especially given that:

Sebelius' decision is "medically inexplicable," said Dr. Robert Block of the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of a number of major medical groups that contends over-the-counter access to emergency contraception would lower the nation's high number of unplanned pregnancies.

Pediatricians say the morning-after pill is safe — containing a high dose of the same female hormone that's in regular birth control pills — especially compared to some existing over-the-counter medicines.

I believe that one of America’s stupidest and most consequential blunders is how we treat contraception. It should be available to everyone who wants it, period. Teen pregnancy is a huge and preventable problem in the United States and worldwide, where lack of pills and condoms often leads to rampant spread of disease.

And yet, we’re less judgmental about pretty much anything else. We don’t not pump children’s stomachs because they shouldn’t have been drinking that bleach. We don’t deny teenagers treatment for mono because they might have gotten it from promiscuous kissing. We don’t tell lung cancer sufferers to screw off because they shouldn’t have been smoking all their lives.

Yet, our national attitude against birth control goes like this:

“Yeah, we’ve got it, but if you’re too young, you should be taught a lesson. If you have sex and conceive, it’s clear you’re too young to be making these kinds of choices. So you have no choice. Harlot.”

I expect that of the right-wing Jeezus freeks, but not from smart people like President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, both of whom have previously shown support for the notion that science exists.

Are we going to start doing this for condoms too? Boy, that’ll help trim our dependence on social programs.

The issues are the same regardless of how the pills are available. And the morning-after pill, in particular, is not something I imagine any girl wants to buy because it’s on the shelf. What is the Obama administration afraid of? That someone’s going to abuse the pills? Can you can get high off birth control? Is 486 the new 420?

I’m tired of repressive religious mores driving how people can deal with very personal and painful decisions. Really, really tired of it. Especially since those same people want nothing to do with the parents or the baby once it’s born. If we’re going to legislate morality, how about declaring that we, as a country, have healthy and honest attitudes about sex and contraception that aren’t derailed by fears and passions?

1 comment:

Louisiana's Libertarian said...

You make great points on this issue.

The fundamental problem is the fact that governmental entities believe it is their duty to stand between people and their choices. Governmental agents believe they know us better than ourselves and that a single standard fits all of our situations.

Sadly, this is not a phenomenon solely found in the contraceptive market.