Last week, it was announced that Plan B, also referred to as the Morning After Pill, would now be available without a prescription for women as young as 15. While I completely understand the reasons why parents are taking issue with this, 15-years-old is too young/below the age of consent/etc, there are more reasons why this should no longer be a debate for the federal government to be involved in.
1. The people most vocally opposed are adult men. Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News was particularly up in arms when the news came out. He claimed that this is just one more example of how our health care system is in shambles. Even more so, he doesn’t mention medical facts or statistics, for Dr. Alvarez (and most other opponents), the issue is a personal one. Not a medical one.
2. Contraceptive use should be a personal decision, not one for the government to make or have any say in. Much like the debate in the past year over birth control and insurance coverage, women’s reproductive rights shouldn’t be a topic of discussion. It’s between a woman and her doctor. And in the case of the 15-year-old, her parent can be involved in the discussion, but never the government.
3. Not every teenager has the same amount of parental support and guidance. It’s great that parents are becoming involved and aware of their child’s sexuality, but not every teenager has that same support system. Limiting the availability of Plan B for some teenagers because of what their parents believe limits those who don’t also have a support system.
4. Until the sex education system is fixed, we should not be arguing this. Teen pregnancy statistics are absurdly high and they mostly aren’t aware of prevention and other safe sex practices. Until we can have a legitimate and effective form of sex education in every school, this should not be a debate. If we can’t teach our kids preventative measures, we should at least offer them.
5. There is no harm in taking Plan B. Opponents have cited health risks as one of their concerns for such a young age limit on Plan B, but to put it bluntly, there are no long-lasting or harmful side effects to taking Plan B.
6. It doesn’t increase sexual activity. Despite what opponents are saying, there is no correlation between availability of contraceptives and sexual activity in teens. It does, however, prevent teenage pregnancies.
7. It’s not a form of abortion. Many pro-lifers cite this as the reason for being against Plan B in general, not just for women who are 15. The pill blocks fertilization, making it not a pill that terminates pregnancy.
8. No parent truly agrees on what is appropriate for their child. Some parents are more lax about what their child knows, while others prefer to keep them sheltered. By claiming that this decision infringes upon the rights of the parent, you’re claiming that parents have a universal belief system, which is not the case.
9. Times are changing and we must change with them. It’s a common theme in history. The times begin to change and people are adamantly against it. As humans, change is terrifying. But when you look back on history, those against change always appear foolish. The more we fight and protest the evolution of sexuality in our culture, the more foolish we will seem when we look back on ourselves.
10. We live in a hook-up culture. It’s undeniable. There are books and articles and documentaries about it. To deny people, specifically teenagers, the right to contraceptives is almost as immoral as opponents are claiming providing contraceptives is.
11. This isn’t about whether or not a 15-year-old is allowed to see an r-rated movie. This is frequently referenced as an argument against why the age limit should be raised. Having unprotected sex has longer-lasting consequences than watching Spring Breakers. An unwanted pregnancy can change a teenager’s life, and teen pregnancies are already an epidemic in this country. Why fight something that can help resolve the crisis?
12. This will hopefully promote a greater discourse about sex and sexual behavior. It’s something that needs to be talked about in our country, but isn’t. Whether parents are telling their kids or not, they will find out about via social media and the internet. This can lead to more family discussions and more awareness.
13. Plan B is cheaper than raising a child at the age of 15. With high drop-out rates for teenagers mothers that essentially lead to lesser paying jobs, $50 for the Plan B pill when it’s needed rather than waiting to go through all the medical hoops will decrease poverty in young people and decrease the amount of people on welfare.
14. Preventing unwanted teen pregnancies leads to abandoned children and children in poverty. The amount of children waiting for adoptions is already a ridiculously high number. Let’s not add to it.
15. And finally, this isn’t about politics. This is about science and sex education. Personal and political beliefs should never interfere with someone’s health and healthcare options.