Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that they would allow the emergency contraceptive pill, Plan B One-Step, to be available to women as young as 15 years old. The pill which is also commonly known as the ‘morning after pill,’ had previously been only allowed to adult women, as well as women who were 17 years old who had a prescription. The two year age decrease is a landmark decision which further expands the reproductive rights and choices of women, but naturally, this controversial decision was not met with applause. This new decision would allow women 15 and over to buy the emergency contraceptive over the counter without a prescription, as long as they can show identification as proof of age.
A federal judge in New York, who reversed the long standing FDA age limit, had some criticism for the FDA, citing that the law is still restrictive and doesn’t give women full access to other approved contraceptives, including generic versions. The judge wanted the pill to be made available to women of all ages. However the Justice Department is expected to appeal the new FDA decision.
As I read all the details of the new law unfold, I couldn’t help but think about the risks of this new law. While I rally for women’s reproductive rights, and hope to see less limitations, I wonder if my liberal views clouded my judgement. Plan B is considered a safe and effective contraceptive, but how will its side effects impact younger bodies? Is 15 too young? Should parents have a say?
While I do think 15 years old is young, I do not think it’s too young simply for just the age. Teen pregnancy is a crisis that affects a lot of young women, particularly young girls from low-income backgrounds. Allowing girls that young to buy the emergency pill would help decrease the number of unintended pregnancies. Studies found that unintended pregnancies were highest in girls younger than 15. In the meantime, as more and more restrictive limits are being placed on abortion, developing new laws that would give young women access in preventing unwanted, unplanned, and unintended pregnancies would also decrease the social inequalities that disproportionately affects children of teen mothers.
Teenagers have sex. It's inevitable to prevent their every choice on the matter. But I’m not sure whether I think parent’s should have a decision or knowledge on Plan B’s availability. If you think about it, if a young teen even needs Plan B, they’ve likely had sex already. So they’ve made a previous decision and are now making another to fix it. Then you can also think about state laws and the age of responsibility most parents have on their children (age 18). If a parent is responsible for their child until they are 18 years old, then why shouldn’t they be responsible for whatever reproductive decision their child makes? It then becomes a parent rights issue and a reproductive one. However, I don’t believe parents always make the right choices for their children, and what if the need of the pill is needed because of parental abuse?
What are your thoughts on the issue?