Practice abstinence instead of Plan B

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HUNTER PARAMORE | Scroll Illustration

On April 30, the age at which women can purchase an emergency contraceptive was lowered from 17 to 15, and there is a movement to make purchase of the drug even more available.

“The decision by the Food and Drug Administration is an attempt to find middle ground just days before a court-imposed deadline veto lift all age restrictions on the drug,” according to an article from the Associated Press.

The new age limit, and the ruling that pushed for elimination of all age restrictions for the pill, has been appealed by the U.S. Justice Department, which asserts that U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman, who ordered the FDA to remove all restrictions for the drug’s purchase, overstepped his bounds.

Some people have expressed disappointment in this decision.

“We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women’s reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women of their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,” said Nancy Northup, head of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

It seems the company selling the drug, Teva Women’s Health Inc., as well as Korman and the Center for Reproductive Rights, who launched the lawsuit leading to the change, are pushing for an even less restrictive policy.

“In 2011, Teva Women’s Health Inc., maker of Plan B One-Step, had asked the FDA to make the drug available without prescription to all sexually active girls and women,” according to an article from www.cnn.com.

Presumably, if Teva, Korman, and Northup get what they want, 11-year-old girls (those are girls in 5th and 6th grade) will be able to purchase and pop their own emergency contraceptives after having sex, provided they can fork over $50 for the pill. This is messed up.

There is an excellent, safe, inexpensive way to prevent pregnancies that doesn’t involve trauma, medical risk or legal intervention. It’s called abstinence.

It doesn’t cost any money, it has a 100 percent success rate and it doesn’t mess with a person’s well-being.

One argument for the now-current availability of the drug was from Dr. Angela Diaz, the director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.

She wrote, “It is a safe and effective drug, and physically safer than going through a natural pregnancy. The impact of pregnancy on a young person that is not ready for a child is immense. Not just on their physical health, but on their entire well-being and future.”

If we are taking seriously the risk of pregnancy and its effects on a given person, shouldn’t we also be considering a solution that is more safe than a pill that is taken after the fact?

Wouldn’t avoiding the whole affair — if you’ll pardon the pun — be a far better idea?

It may also be wise to consider the psychological risks of adolescent sexual activity.

According to an article from Reach, a magazine that is published by the University of Minnesota, Ann Meier, a professor of sociology at the university, conducted a study that suggested that adolescent sex may not have evident, harmful psychological effects for most. However, for those that it did harm, about 15 percent of those she studied, were usually young men and women — girls under the age of 15 and boys under the age of 14.

If the major reason that people are pushing for greater availability of the Plan B option is that they want to protect young women from suffering hurt or inconvenience, maybe they should consider teaching kids not to have sex at all until they are at a later age instead of coming up with a miracle pill.

Special situations involving sexual intercourse with a lack of consent from all involved might warrant use of the drug. It seems that in those situations, to protect the life of a pre-teen or early teenager, taking the pill might be the best option.

But there’s got to be a better way of solving the problem of unwanted pregnancies than selling a pill that could simultaneously serve to save someone’s life and allow for free sex between tweens.

Dissenting Opinion — Abstinence is ideal but not a realistic solution

Abstinence is the best way for teenagers to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, and it would be universally practiced in an ideal world. It’s too bad we don’t live in such a place.

We live in a world where our young daughters and sons make mistakes, despite what we teach them. One moment of weakness, experimentation or a compromising situation is all it takes for a young woman who is not ready to be a mother to conceive.

Even for our young teenage children, the risk is great. According to a study by Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Penn State Hershey, kids age 12-14 are more likely than other teenagers to have unplanned sex.

The morning-after pill needs to be part of the solution.

Some may argue that to make these contraceptives available to young women of all ages will increase sexual activity among teenagers. While that may be true, we must decide whether our priority is to stem the tide of teen pregnancies or to stop our teenagers from having sex.

Abstinence can’t win the battle against teen pregnancy alone. While it’s a shame that we have to resort to contraceptives when abstinence is a simpler solution, it’s better that our daughters have the option of taking the morning-after pill rather than conceive too soon.

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