Obama Plan B Ruling: Banning EC Won't Prevent Teen Pregnancy

At almost any supermarket or convenience store, a 15-year-old has over-the-counter access to cinnamon. Cinnamon, the seemingly harmless spice, has led to multiple trips to emergency rooms across the nation over teens taking part in the risky cinnamon challenge. This challenge, in which the participant attempts to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon, is causing people to inhale the spice into their lungs and can lead to aspiration pneumonia. Many would argue that these teens are just young, uneducated, and making a mistake in their decision-making process, and that it would make no sense to restrict anyone's actual access to cinnamon. Opponents of allowing women under 15 to purchase Plan B, or the "morning-after pill," over the counter might argue differently about the Cinnamon Challenge: Wouldn’t restricting these teens' access to cinnamon lessen their chances of engaging in unsafe behavior? There's no evidence to suggest that methods like this are effective, but by appealing a federal judge’s ruling that “emergency contraception (EC) be made available over the counter for everyone”, President Obama is disappointing liberals and making decisions based on political pressure, not scientific fact..

On April 5, U.S. District Court Judge Edward R. Korman ruled that women age 15 and up have access to morning-after contraceptive pills. This would remove the requirement for some to obtain prescriptions in order to receive EC, a requirement that has caused confusion among pharmacists over who is permitted to buy EC and has resulted in many women being blocked from getting medication they were legally allowed to have. Acquiring prescriptions has been regarded unnecessary by experts in the public health and medical fields, and is an added cost to an already urgent situation. Emergency contraception is primarily used when a method of birth control has failed (a condom breaking, for example), or when a method of birth control had not already been used. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that emergency contraception is safe and effective for all ages.

President Barack Obama decided to appeal the judge’s ruling, claiming that the judge overstepped his authority by not allowing an adequate amount of time for a federal agency to conduct an internal review on changing its policy. This move has angered many liberals and women’s rights advocates. Susannah Baruch, interim president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project has stated, “This appeal takes away the promise of all women having timely access to emergency contraception.” On the president’s own website, he highlights the fact that because of “Obamacare,” more women have access to cheaper birth control by not having to pay co-pays and deductibles. But the president has never publicly supported lowering the legal age for attaining EC without a prescription, and in 2011 he backed U.S Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to keep the legal age at 17. It’s disappointing that many people still believe the falsehood that limiting a teenager’s access to birth control will deter them from engaging in sexual behavior. When the United States Constitution banned the consumption of alcohol, it did not bring about a more moral society — it resulted in organized crime, a black market for alcohol, and (eventually) another amendment repealing Prohibition. By making it challenging for a teen to receive the emergency contraception they may desperately need, it will not make that teen think twice about engaging in sex. A trip to the emergency room for breathing in cinnamon is a one-time cost, but the ability to prevent an unplanned teenage pregnancy is priceless. 

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Mary Carswell

I am graduating senior at SUNY Oneonta whose major is communication studies and political science. I have an interest in political campaigns, feminism and social justice issues.

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