The Washington Post reported today that the Food and Drug Administration has before it a proposal to make Plan B available to anyone who might want to purchase it off the shelf. Plan B, also called the "morning after pill", is a controversial drug that is used to prevent an egg from becoming fertilized but some opponents of the drug are concerned that it might prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the womb. Some believe this akin to abortion.
First of all, let me state that I am pro-life. However, my opposition to making this drug available off the drugstore shelf and not requiring a prescription has nothing to do with my stance on abortion. I am also not naive enough to believe that those who hail this potential step as a win for women and contraception don't have a valid point, they do. There is no doubt that making it easier to obtain Plan B will change perceptions of sex for many woman and men as well. I don't dispute that either. I'll tell you what my problem is with making access to Plan B easier, it's about responsibility.
Now, before some of you start e-mailing your hate mail to me, let me explain my position. Yes, I believe that contraception is a responsible decision. Many couples utilize birth control in a responsible and well thought out manner. I applaud them. But, I am not talking about contraception that is available to people who have taken the time to consider such choices. My fear is that making Plan B readily available will give young teens another opportunity to rationalize unprotected sex opening themselves up to both emotional and physical scars.
I think our country sends the wrong message when we talk about sex especially when it comes to our youth. Instead of parents/teachers/youth leaders teaching our young people that sex is an act of love and great responsibility that comes with consequences we continue to pass that responsibility on to the drug and condom companies. Our societies mentality has become, "Well, their going to do it anyway and we can't stop them so they might as well have protection". It's not the "they might as well have protection" part that drives me crazy. Yes, if two young people are going to engage in sex I would want them to have some type of protection. I am not an idiot! As I said before that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is the apathy that we, as adults, exhibit by believing the lie that "kids are going to have sex and there is nothing we can do to stop it". That, my friends, is pure crap!
When was it that the youth of our country had their ability to choose taken away from them? When was it that our society decided that our kids were too stupid to make good choices? Some where along the line we decided that any effort to instill in our kids knowledge about sex got trumped by hormonal urges. The fact is we gave up on our kids, plain and simple! So, we do what we always do. We refuse to equip them with the tools to make good choices and we make it easier for them to obtain a drug that bails out their bad ones.
Do I think Plan B serves a purpose? Of course I do. The effect of this drug on women of abuse is unimpeachable. But, in this particular prose, I am not talking about women. I am talking about kids! I don't want to get rid of the drug I just don't think it sends the right message when we make it so readily available to any and everyone. We justify it by claiming to be a responsible society but it's just another way of saying we don't trust our kids.
I'm not sticking my head in the sand and claiming that teenage pregnancy and STD's could be eradicated by taking contraceptives off the shelf at Wal-Mart. Again, if two young people have decided to have sex I would be the first one to tell them to use protection but I would also hope that I would take just as much time to encourage a responsible decision making process.
Keep the drug, change the message! If you need it get a prescription and get it. Keeping Plan B off the shelf is not going to make it harder for adults to make sound contraceptive decisions. However, it might make it necessary for our young people to step up and make a responsible decision that they are very capable of making! Let's not let them off the hook in the decision making process. Yes, some of the decisions are going to be bad and some will be good but when we continue to make products available that negate the need for thought we do more damage than help. It's ironic, we claim to be protecting them but I wonder if we're not aiding in their possible destruction.
Until next time,