Plan B: You know you did something right when you’ve pissed everyone off

I’m a firm believer that one of the most important aspects of democracy is not a given outcome of a political debate, but is instead the constant push and pull of the ideas behind a decision. The decision to make Plan B available without a prescription was a long time in coming, and I support it fully.

I think it’s somewhat sad that it’s been overly politicized, but I guess that’s the price of doing something controversial in a country where the “religious right” has a lot more clout than is warranted. Politicians on both sides think the FDA has gone too far or hasn’t gone far enough. I’d say that the agency has done a good job with their Plan B policy so far, if for no other reason than the fact that no one’s completely happy with it.

Some of the nonsense on both sides is actually pretty funny, particularly when viewed with an eye towards history — especially the stuff from the right:

Coburn and other social conservatives said that the high doses of hormones in the pills carry risks, and that making them more easily available will encourage sexual activity and result in more unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

That, my friends, is Grade A political BS. Opponents of oral contraception said the same stuff about “The Pill” when it first came out. It was then, and still is, a complete load of crap.

First of all, Plan B will prevent unwanted pregnancies. That’s why it exists, and it does its job quite well. That whole STD thing… is anyone else having 1960s flashbacks here? Hello, these arguments were made when the pill first came out. They were unsubstantiated then, how is today any different?

“This is a bad decision for women, for girls, for parents and for public health,” said Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, which led a campaign to block the decision. “The FDA’s decision today will only make things worse for American women.”

I’d love to hear the logic behind that one, backed up with some numbers. But wait, that’ll never happen because the numbers won’t be there, and the only thing the right will be able to come up with will be anecdotes here and there. And I’d put some serious money on that.

What does concern me is the current administration’s emphasis on teaching abstinence. I think a rigorous sexual education program would go a long way in preventing STD transmission — but that, of course, is a bad idea because it will encourage teenagers to have sex. (Insert a humongous roll-eyes emoticon here.) Nevermind that the US has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STD transmission of any first world country. Clearly the abstinence emphasis isn’t working.

But the left isn’t entirely reasonable either.

Plan B’s backers, meanwhile, criticized the agency for not allowing the drug to be sold to everyone.

“We urge the FDA to revisit placing age restrictions on the sale of Plan B,” said Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). But because the decision represents “real progress” and an “important step in restoring the American people’s faith in the FDA,” the senators said, they were lifting a hold they had imposed on von Eschenbach’s confirmation as FDA commissioner.

I don’t think it’s a good idea for it to be sold willy-nilly to anyone that wants it. Ideally it’d be only sold to the person who is going to use it so its use can be more closely monitored, and the procedure for using it — and how it works — can be made clear to the woman who needs it.

So we’ve got Plan B available OTC. Now it’d be nice if the lay public got on the “Plan B is not abortion” bandwagon. Because it’s not.

[tags]Medicine, pharmacy, Plan B, abortion, politics, healthcare policy[/tags]

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