Emergency Conctraception Becomes Available Without a Prescription to Those 17 and Older

Just in case you haven’t yet heard:

Seventeen-year-olds will soon be allowed to buy morning-after contraceptive pills without a doctor’s prescription after federal drug regulators complied with a judge’s order and lowered the age limit by a year.

The decision on Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, which overturns one of the most controversial health rulings of the Bush administration, was scorned by abortion opponents and hailed by their abortion rights counterparts.

[. . .]

Like their older counterparts, 17-year-old women will now be able to go to almost any pharmacy, clinic or hospital and, after showing proof of age, buy Plan B without a prescription. Men 17 and older may also buy Plan B for a partner.

This is, of course, excellent news.  And a sign that the Obama administration, when it comes to decisions that pit science against ideology, will be significantly more moderate than the Bush administration was.

But, while I hate to rain on this parade — and again, really, great news!!! — it should give us a bit of pause that the drug is still only available without a prescription to people aged 17 and older.  Like many advocates, I believe that everyone needs easy and fast access to emergency contraception (EC).  And that’s something we shouldn’t stop fighting for just because the rules have been significantly relaxed.

It’s also a time to talk about things that FDA regulations can’t cure — namely, education.  Far too many people, especially teens, just don’t know a) that emergency contraception exists or b) how to get it if they do.  I know this from experience — when you have any history of working for Planned Parenthood, you get a lot of unexpected questions from a lot of people who need this kind of information.  And the fact is that lots of people don’t know: what EC is or how it works, that EC can be taken for longer than just “the morning after,” how to ask for it, that men can buy EC too if need be, or that it’s even available without a prescription at all.

Those are huge gaps.  And they need to be filled in through comprehensive sex education and public education campaigns, now.  And to top it all off, we also need to find ways to make EC more affordable.

Because sadly, until we do that, legal access isn’t going to be the same thing as accessible.

43 comments for “Emergency Conctraception Becomes Available Without a Prescription to Those 17 and Older

  1. Lance
    April 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I love the logic of making EC harder to get for 16-year-olds. The younger you are, the more the state should impose barriers that increase the likelihood of motherhood. Genius!

    On the other hand, EC may become a bit like cigarettes– there’s always a senior willing to buy it for somebody younger. While a somewhat ludicrous solution, at least the black market might actually come in handy.

  2. April 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    On the other hand, EC may become a bit like cigarettes– there’s always a senior willing to buy it for somebody younger. While a somewhat ludicrous solution, at least the black market might actually come in handy.

    When my mom found a condom in my then 16-year-old brother’s pocket, I sat down with him and had a talk about what EC is, and that if he/his girlfriend, or a friend, ever needed it to just call me right away rather than fuck around wasting precious time to get to a doctor or trying to find a senior that would buy it for them. (Along with a mention of the importance of respecting sexual partners and always using protection in the first place, of course.)

    Seeing as how it’s not at all illegal to buy EC for someone that isn’t you, I’m not even sure that supplying it to someone under 17 would even be illegal. But if it is? Didn’t and don’t particularly care.

  3. William
    April 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Last night one of the big networks in Chicago (NBC I think, I wasn’t paying that close of attention) was on at my in-laws and they had a lead that said “Emergency contraception now available to girls under 17: what parents can do!” with a dour newsreader doing her best alarmist voice. Depressing…

  4. Lance
    April 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Cara– I think it probably would be illegal, because it’s distributing a controlled substance to somebody who is not legally entitled to have it without a prescription. Buying cigarettes for somebody else may not be illegal, but giving them to a 16 year old is. However, prosecution is pretty unlikely… especially since the person you give it to swallows all the evidence.

    And good for you for stepping up to the plate, by the way.

  5. lilacsigil
    April 23, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I work in a small rural pharmacy – the only option within 50km – and we supply emergency contraception at $1 above cost. That $1 doesn’t cover the 10-15 minutes of the pharmacist’s time spent counselling each patient and making sure it’s safe for the patient. We also don’t sell to anyone other than the actual patient unless we can speak to them over the phone – that’s to cover us legally in cases of rape, child abuse and underage sex. We don’t check ID because we don’t want to know if someone’s under the age of consent – we just ask “are you 16?” (which is the age of consent in Australia). It’s not like everyone’s seeing this as a big financial bonanza – it’s difficult, time-consuming and often embarrassing for the patient, but it is a legal and necessary service we want to provide.

  6. Lisa A.
    April 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Well, I’m delurking for the third time in three days. I think that’s a record. :)

    I wanted to commend Cara, as well as lilacsigil, and the pharmacy that she works in for making EC more available to young women.

    I also want to point out, though, that while the pharmacies may not be making a ton of money from it, the pharmaceutical companies most certainly are. According to Planned Parenthood, it costs between $10 and $70 in the U.S. Even counting R&D/marketing (and govt. lobbying) costs, like so many other drugs, it’s a huge rip off.

  7. one jewis dyke
    April 24, 2009 at 2:45 am

    There are some organizations working to make sure that all women and girls have access to EC when they need it. Someone keeps it in her home, and will be contacted by an intermediary to meet the girl or woman who needs it, no questions asked.

    I have a handful of children in my life, all under eight years old – nephews and sons of best friends. My one niece is five. Their parents are all the sort who would want their children coming to a trusted adult if they needed, if they couldn’t talk to them. My friends and siblings would hope that their children could talk to them, and are doing their best to create that culture in their homes, but even in the best homes sometimes kids are reticent or afraid to talk to their parents about sex. I think I’ll make a pact with those friends to talk to each others’ children when they hit about 12 years old and let them know that should they ever need EC for themselves or a girl friend and they don’t want to go to their own parent, they should come to the other and we’ll deal with getting the EC and then talking to the parent together.

  8. Alexis
    April 24, 2009 at 7:41 am

    …And out come the pundits who says “YOUR child can get the ABORTION pill but can’t take Tylenol at school!!1!” In fact, I basically heard that very argument on CNN last night. I think that says more about the wtf-ness of schools’ zero tolerance policies than anything about this issue. Also, not too sure what makes 17 year olds “children” in the eyes of the media but 18 years olds “adults.”

  9. April 24, 2009 at 8:14 am

    lilacsigil — what Lisa said. There are a lot of ways to make drugs less expensive that don’t involve locally-owned pharmacies eating the cost themselves! That’s what I was referring to.

  10. April 24, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I find it bizarre that there is so much anxiety and debate over one year of age difference. It really highlights how ludicrous the age requirement is in the first place.

  11. Becca
    April 24, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I was wondering – has emergency contraception been medically approved for women under 17? It does seem weird that they only lowered it one year, I thought it might be because it hasn’t been approved for women under 17, but I can’t find any information on that.

  12. Jesse
    April 24, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I rather dislike it when people equate an EC (like Plan B) with the abortion pill (Mifepristone, also known as RU-486 when being developed.) But that’s one of the scare tactics used really. Let’s equate these two drugs that cost vastly different amounts and do different things, and are effective within different timeframes… because they’re totally the same thing, yo.
    I know that not everybody who might be against/uncomfortable with abortion is against birth control, and it seems likely to me that there are pro-choice people who would never get an abortion themselves who would feel uncomfortable taking something like Plan B because they think it is an “abortion pill.” “EC is birth control, not abortion.

  13. Jesse
    April 24, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Oh, and actually on topic, I think it’s fantastic that it’s been made over-the-counter at all. My country (Canada) did the same thing a few years ago, interestingly enough I don’t really remember it being publicized… although I could have easily missed it. Either way, when I was 16 I was able to go to a clinic in my city and get a prescription for EC, and a couple months ago at the age of 23 my boyfriend was able to go pick up some EC for me when I had to work all day.
    Doesn’t change the attitude of the people dispensing it though. That’s an entirely different rant though.

  14. William
    April 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I rather dislike it when people equate an EC (like Plan B) with the abortion pill (Mifepristone, also known as RU-486 when being developed.) But that’s one of the scare tactics used really.

    Its not a scare tactic, that is actually the mentality. For a lot of these people the only difference between plan B and a partial birth abortion is when the event occurs. The fretting over hormonal birth control has to do with the belief that any method which has even the theoretical possibility of preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg is morally indistinguishable from an abortion.

  15. Alexis
    April 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I wasn’t trying to suggest that I believe EC = abortion. You know this, and I know this, but the general public seems to plug their ears, and the media won’t let a few stray facts get in the way of a good manufactured crisis. I’ve actually heard the terms used interchangeably on both national and local news. I think the public opinion would be a lot less negative about this if there was a news story saying, “Hey folks, two different concepts here.”

  16. Ozymandias
    April 24, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    … Which will work as long as teenage girls know about where to buy and how to use EC, which, I don’t, and I’m the resource on sex ed for my group of friends. I go to Catholic school, so our actual sex ed mostly revolved around the magic properties of wedding rings. And, of course, how abortion and condoms are BRUTAL MURDER OF INNOCENT PREBORN BABIES BY THEIR OWN MOTHERS, OH NOES. My boyfriend thought pulling out worked as a method of contraception until I told him better. So I’m really not optimistic about the average seventeen-year-old’s ability to deal with this.

    Time for Planned Parenthood fu on EC…

    Also, I think you misspelled contraception in the title.

  17. Jesse
    April 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    There are some who equate birth control with abortion on their own, and I guess that’s their choice/opinion really, although I fail to see how that can be abortion when those same people don’t seem to be deriding women who naturally go through their cycle without getting pregnant. That little released egg is 1/2 the start of a baby, don’t’cha know.
    I deem it a scare tactic though because it is essentially equated with abortion without any context as to why some might think it is so — other people have referenced things they saw on CNN for example. There -is- an abortion pill, and EC is not it, calling the latter by the name of the former is completely misrepresenting what EC does and a great way to scare some people who might need it from using it at all.

    And my apologies Alexis, I do just like to make sure people are aware of the distinction. I have actually come across a surprising number of people from various age groups and backgrounds who really do believe that EC like Plan B is a type of “abortion pill,” and a good chunk of these people are pro-choice (even if some would never get an abortion themselves.) So any time I see mention of this scare tactic I get a strong urge to stamp it out.

  18. Pauline
    April 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    But if my daughter wants to buy EC, I want her to be able to come to me. I hate that this makes it easier for her to exclude me during this very important part of her life.

    It’s also silly that I can’t treat a toenail infection over the counter, but you can get some potent hormones at 17 without a prescription.

  19. Ozymandias
    April 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Pauline–

    It’s great that you want to be part of your daughter’s reproductive life and you’re enlightened enough that you’ll let her have EC if she needs it. But a lot of girls have abusive parents or a fundie family, are living on their own or even just aren’t comfortable talking to their parents about it. It’s not fair to give your daughter this prescription and not these girls– who might need it more.

  20. April 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Pauline — then I imagine you should talk to your daughter and form a relationship with her that ensures that she does not have a desire to keep you out of her personal life if the time ever comes where she might need EC? (Or maybe just respect the fact that she doesn’t necessarily want to include you in every aspect of her personal life … I love my mom a lot, and I’m really not at all squeamish about sex, but I am fairly private and still don’t feel like going up to her and having a conversation that starts with “So, I was having sex last night…”)

    The point is that ensuring that your daughter comes to you, or that anyone else’s daughter comes to them, has nothing to do with legislation. It has to do with relationships. Oh, and generally, a teenager doesn’t need parental permission to go to the doctor and get a prescription anyway. So there’s that.

    Also: toenail infections aren’t time sensitive. Pregnancy prevention is.

  21. estraven
    April 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    @pauline: I also want my daughter to come to me in such a case. But in case I’m away, or sick, or she lied to me what she was doing when contraception failed her and does’t want to tell me, or is just angry at me as I was at my mum at 17, I want her to get something which is much, much safer for her health than either an abortion or a pregnancy.
    @one jewish dyke: that’s a great idea!

  22. Jesse
    April 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Going to have to agree with the above three posters at 21, 20, and 19. I did not talk with my mother about everything, kept some things from her that I probably shouldn’t have, but she did make a huge effort to ensure that I was properly educated in the ways of safer sex, STD prevention, and various things. I had some wonderfully comprehensive sex-ed from my public schools (Western Canada, urban, etc.) but she sat down and covered everything with me anyways, etc. In the end even though I did not have to go through her in order to get a prescription for birth control, I was glad to have her support and help in making the appointment with my doctor, discussing pelvic exams and PAP smears with me, discussing taking my BC properly, and so forth.
    I did not have to go through her when I got my prescription for EC at the age of 16 (I realize laws on this are different in the States, and even from state to state,) back when you still needed one in my country, and I actually did not discuss it with her for some reason I do not recall. But I was able to get it anyways, which is the important part.
    My step-sister is not fortunate enough to have a mother like mine, her mother and our father (my dad, her stepfather) are far from being understanding on topics such as this. It is especially important in my sister’s case though, because pregnancy is highly likely to kill both her and the fetus. If she’d had sex and the condom broke, if she had been raped, if there was any reason for her to fear a possible pregnancy, they would have prevented her from EC or an abortion.

  23. April 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    But if my daughter wants to buy EC, I want her to be able to come to me. I hate that this makes it easier for her to exclude me during this very important part of her life.

    She IS able to come to you. It’s not like children are put in steel restraints the second they decide “I’m gonna talk to Mom about this” and waterboarded until they agree to keep their mouths shut about it, and you need to legally prevent OTHER teens from having access to EC in order to free your own daughter to talk to you about it.

    No, in fact, she CAN talk to you about it, RIGHT NOW, and legal constraints on EC forcing every teen to go through their parents has real harmful effects. Because not every parent is you. And you can’t just try to ignore the set of teens who have abusive parents, and pretend to yourself that this doesn’t affect *them*. No, you would NEVER harm a child! Ever!

  24. BonBon
    April 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    When I was in high school in California merely five years ago I clearly remember my best friend calling me in a panic because she needed EC. We both ditched school the next day and drove to the pharmacy to get her some.

    I was barely 16 at the time. She was 15.

    I don’t know if it was because I looked older at the time or because it was noon on a Tuesday or because I just walked up to the counter and boldly asked for it, but I never got carded.

    Even several years later when I myself took EC in a different, less pro-choice state, I didn’t have to offer over any sort of ID or birth date.

    Although it is one small victory, it’s tragic how many young girls will go without the EC that they need/want to get. I am so thankful that I grew up in a staunchly pro-choice household with a social worker for a mother who I knew I could go to for anything.

  25. Pauline
    April 25, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Well, i guess I respectfully disagree with you guys. I think those older teen years are confusing enough and parents who want to actually PARENT their kids have a difficult enough time of it. I did dumb stuff when I was a teen and even back then it was easy enough to go behind my mom’s back. If I hadn’t been so willful and if I had included her more, I’m sure I could have saved myself from a lot of crap.

    Kids are kids, and I don’t appreciate the government emphasizing that over, Parents should be parents!

  26. April 25, 2009 at 8:14 am

    So, wait Pauline — you mean that there used to be more laws in place regulating this kind of thing, and you still found ways to go behind your parent’s back? Again, maybe because teens always have and always will go behind the backs of their parents when they don’t believe that their parents will show them the kind of support that they are looking for?

    Again, no one is stopping you from parenting. If you think that your daughter would only come to you if the government made her (and again, making her go to a doctor isn’t the same thing as making her go to you), then that’s not a legislative problem. That’s a relationship problem, for you and every other parent who has that concern.

    And I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen parents quite reasonably and reflectively say “you know, I’d really hope that my daughter would come to me . . . but if she feels like she couldn’t, I’d want her to be safe most of all.”

    Further, you will never, ever convince me that “a parent’s right to know” outweighs a teen’s right to basic privacy and basic medical care. Ever. Nor will you ever convince me that the supposed rights of “good” parents will ever outweigh the right of teens to be protected from abusive ones.

  27. April 25, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I submit that parents who are so busy worrying that their children won’t trust them, that they’re willing to put other children in danger just to make themselves feel a little bit better about their own parenting skills, might not be such awesome parents themselves. Just saying.

    That doesn’t mean every parent who ever feels this kind of anxiety must also be an asshole — anxiety over this sort of stuff is perfectly normal. But I’d put good money on the core set of parents who cry loudest about this sort of thing not being quite the good parents they present themselves as.

  28. William
    April 25, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Well, i guess I respectfully disagree with you guys. I think those older teen years are confusing enough and parents who want to actually PARENT their kids have a difficult enough time of it. I did dumb stuff when I was a teen and even back then it was easy enough to go behind my mom’s back. If I hadn’t been so willful and if I had included her more, I’m sure I could have saved myself from a lot of crap.

    Kids are kids, and I don’t appreciate the government emphasizing that over, Parents should be parents!

    With all due respect, what you want, think, believe, feel, or sincerely wish is completely irrelevant. Abortion is a constitutional right, bodily sovereignty is a constitutional right. That we’re even having this discussion is a sign that we, as a nation, treat constitutional rights as something to be earned rather than the inalienable birthright they are.

    Kids do stupid shit, good parents do triage. Limiting the ability of kids with bad parents to manage their lives so that you can be more comfortable isn’t just arrogant, it’s downright tyrannical.

  29. Pauline
    April 25, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    “With all due respect, what you want, think, believe, feel, or sincerely wish is completely irrelevant. ”

    With respect to my own kids? Like hell it is.

    “Abortion is a constitutional right, bodily sovereignty is a constitutional right. That we’re even having this discussion is a sign that we, as a nation, treat constitutional rights as something to be earned rather than the inalienable birthright they are.”

    I just got done studying the constitution with my 10th grader. None of that crap is in there and I’ve even heard pro-choice legal experts call R v. W bad law. So if you want to beat me over the head for objecting to the government chipping away at my parental rights – again, you’ll have to use something other than the constitution to do so.

  30. Pauline
    April 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    “But I’d put good money on the core set of parents who cry loudest about this sort of thing not being quite the good parents they present themselves as.”

    Wow Amanda, at age 23 and no kids of your own you’re able to pontificate to those of us who are actually – you know- raising children. good job!

  31. April 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Which is no more a trump card on my argument than the fact that I was a child with an abusive parent trumps yours. Nice try, though.

  32. April 25, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Okay, everyone, listen very carefully. Pauline has made a clear argument here, but I don’t think it’s getting through, so maybe I can help clear it up?

    You see: Pauline owns her children. She acquired them fair and square, and they are her property until they are 18. Just as my father once (seriously) said to me at 17 when I told him that it was my decision whether or not to have sex, “No, until you’re 18, whatever you do with your body is up to me.” Pauline has any and all say, because her children are not, like, people. Especially the girl children. Because they’re property and Teh Sex ruins property.

    Which is why the opinions of young women people like me and Amanda don’t matter. See, it’s not that long ago that we were teenagers, so while it seems like we might have a relatively decent idea about the importance of rights for teenagers, you’d be wrong! Because teenagers don’t have “rights.” Only parents have rights. Because property doesn’t get a say.

    And since we’re young and silly and haven’t had children, we obviously don’t understand this property set up quite yet and still have naive ideas that being treated like property, or being expected to go to an abusive parent for help, is somehow wrong. Surely, someday we’ll understand, if/when we have child-property of our own.

    I hope that helps!

  33. April 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    If bodily sovereignity were a constitutional right, then suicide would be legal. Now, I wish it were, but all the same.

    I’ve noticed this parental rights argument is centering on teens, probably because the law deals with them–but teens are not the only ones who might need EC. Are we comfortable applying the same logic to an 11 or a 12 year old? Do you only begin to “own” your body fully at a certain age?

    Playing devil’s advocate to Cara for a moment–we don’t sell alcohol, nicotine, or (generally) tattoos and piercings to minors. All these can effect the teenage body in a serious and negative way (more so than that of an adult) though generally not so seriously as pregnancy or abortion–although I’m not so sure about that when we start to look at death from DUI, etc. Is it treating your children as property to want a law barring the sale of, say, vodka to a 14 year old and his/her buddies? Children also cannot vote–does that make them property as well?

    That said, yay for the law. It’s about time.

  34. Ozymandias
    April 25, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    To add to Cara’s excellent explanation:

    It doesn’t matter if girls have abusive parents, because they are their parents’ property and obviously all parents are as good and kind and wonderful and understanding as Pauline herself is, because duh, giving birth to children magically gave them enlightened attitudes about their teens’ sexuality, donchaknow? And even if there are parents who didn’t get this installed, due to some mixup at the Making People Good Parents factory or something, the child is still their property and they can do what they want with it, even making the girl give birth to a kid she doesn’t want and isn’t prepared to take care of, because after all, it’s her property. Like a hammer. Your hammer doesn’t get a choice whether to pound in a nail, why should your daughter get a choice in whether to have a baby?

    A similar application of this principle is shown in how we don’t have social services or foster care.

  35. William
    April 26, 2009 at 1:28 am

    With respect to my own kids? Like hell it is.

    No, sorry, it isn’t. Perhaps there is some grey area between childhood and adolescence in which your opinion matters, but beyond that point the best you can hope for is to be an adviser to a young person who is likely to make bad decisions. Realistically, you can’t do a damned thing about it. You fucked up when you were a kid, I fucked up when I was a kid, aside from locking your offspring in a closet your only real choice is to send them out into the world, hope for the best, and be there if it all goes bad. Maybe that isn’t the reality you like, but its there and the law doesn’t exist to help you maintain some comfortable little narcissistic illusion through petty harassment.

    I just got done studying the constitution with my 10th grader. None of that crap is in there and I’ve even heard pro-choice legal experts call R v. W bad law.

    Well, I suppose that depends mostly on how you choose to read the constitution. You’ve got that whole “liberty” part of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” You’ve got the fourth amendment which restricts intrusion. Both of those would seem to knock your argument off it’s perch.

    The real problem you face, though, is that messy 9th amendment. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that says that just because something isn’t written in the bill of rights doesn’t mean it isn’t a right. If you went just a little further than 10th grade civics you’d find out that that amendment is there as a catch all, as a means of reserving a potentially infinite number of rights to the people. A little bit of hermeneutics is important here. The Bill of Rights was written during a certain time period, and the founders decided to enumerate those rights most salient to that time period. Abortion wasn’t a big public issue in the late 18th century, so it wasn’t covered. Quartering of soldiers was, so it got covered quite early. Things change, thats why the 9th is there.

    The fundamental principles behind the rights enumerated, however, do point to absolute bodily sovereignty. Locke argued that pretty much the only limitation was suicide and the draft, Mill argued an even more extreme variation, part of the core of Paine’s argument had to do with the individual owning themselves. The idea of individual sovereignty was important because, prior to the rise of democracy in the west, people were pretty much owned by whoever owned the land they farmed. So no, abortion isn’t mentioned in the constitution, but not seeing the connection between the principles outlined and abortion demands either ignorance or willful blindness.

    So if you want to beat me over the head for objecting to the government chipping away at my parental rights

    You don’t have parental rights because you cannot own another human being.Depending one where you live, your daughter could become an emancipated minor as early as 14. At any age your very ability to see your child could be terminated if you were found to be unfit. At the most liberal interpretation you lose the ability to claim any “parent rights” the day your child becomes eligible to emancipate. From that point forward, legally, you’re a guide who gets to foot the bill.

    And it isn’t the government “chipping away at your parental rights.” The government isn’t ordering anyone to take the morning after pill. Its your kid you’re opposing. All the government is doing is saying that if you and your child disagree in this situation you can go fuck yourself.

    again, you’ll have to use something other than the constitution to do so.

    Nice double standard there. Show me where in the constitution you have any enumerated or implied rights as a parent. I don’t see anything about an age of consent being tied to having rights, nor do I see anything about the definition of “we the people” being restricted to those over a given age. Hell, I don’t see a single reference to parent or child in either the constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration even goes so far as to identify rights as “inalienable,” claimed by “all men,” and “endowed.” That seems to argue that they come as a birth right, not with some arbitrary rite of passage.

  36. April 26, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Well Pauline, with all due respect, the Supreme Court currently disagrees with you and your Constitution session with your 10th grader. As of right now, based on said Constitution, they get to make those decisions, thank goodness.

    My mother tried to “parent” me my giving me books by Jerry Falwell, telling me abortion was wrong, shaming me for having sex and kicking me out of the house. Guess who didn’t know when her daughter had an abortion at 17? Guess whose daughter was clueless about birth control?

    Oh, and you can buy most toenail treatments easily over the counter. And some hormones (everything from vitamin D, yes, a hormone, and transdermal progesterone are available over the counter).

    By the way, my older son just turned 10 yesterday. I wholeheartedly support making EC (which is not abortion, by the way) available without parental permission. I think setting up any obstacles in the way of reproductive rights is a recipe for increased abortion, increased teen pregnancy, and increased poor maternal and infant and child health outcomes. It is not the childfree vs. the parents, here. We are making the government LESS paternalistic by this change in policy.

    Now, back to the OP. I think even making EC have an age limit is trouble, since vulnerable women who look young will be forced to show identification with their name and address to obtain it. (if it’s anything like cigarettes, we are talking anyone who looks under 30. I still get carded for alcohol occasionally at 36.) There is a reason why state law in my state and many others guarantees privacy to treat STDs in minors.

    If pregnancy allows most teens to become emancipated, why can’t the decision to prevent it also be given to them like an adult?

  37. Pauline
    April 26, 2009 at 8:30 am

    “Which is no more a trump card on my argument than the fact that I was a child with an abusive parent trumps yours. Nice try, though.”

    Back attcha (although i see you’re out of trump!) Because until you’ve had a child, cared for a child, sacrificed for a child, planned, worried, fought for, laughed with, cried with, enjoyed and loved a child you are solely responsible for, you don’t have a clue.

  38. Pauline
    April 26, 2009 at 9:01 am

    ” With respect to my own kids? Like hell it is.”

    No, sorry, it isn’t.

    No sorry it is. As long as I can be held legally liable for the actions of an underage minor it sure as hell is.

    ” I just got done studying the constitution with my 10th grader. None of that crap is in there and I’ve even heard pro-choice legal experts call R v. W bad law.”

    Well, I suppose that depends mostly on how you choose to read the constitution.

    I like to read it literally, as it was written. I actually don’t see the problem between those two parts that you apparently do. Try reading it literally once (or twice)

    “The real problem you face, though, is that messy 9th amendment. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that says that just because something isn’t written in the bill of rights doesn’t mean it isn’t a right.”

    No I love that one! Which is why I continue to object to the arbitrary erosion of my parental rights!

    “So if you want to beat me over the head for objecting to the government chipping away at my parental rights”

    You don’t have parental rights because you cannot own another human being.”

    Ah, well you should tell that to those parents who get cited for not having the right car seat, or whose kid misses 30 days of school, or damages property, or gets caught disturbing the peace. I’m sure the judges in all those cases will find your argument persuasive (not).

    again, you’ll have to use something other than the constitution to do so.

    “Nice double standard there. ”

    Not my double standard. I just want to live by what’s actually in the document. You’re the one that seems to want to put other stuff into the “spirit” of the “living” document and make other people live by it too.

  39. April 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Chava, that’s easy — access to alcohol is not even remotely the same as access to basic medical care. I’m not sure how medical care and a recreational drug are remotely comparable. Nor is vodka available (generally in the U.S. at least) to parents who give their parents permission. Nor has an FDA panel ruled on the safety of its use. (That said, while I don’t think the drinking age should be 14, I also think it should be lower than 21.)

    And I don’t see many people arguing that children shouldn’t have a right to vote because a parent gets any and all say over what they do. I see the argument that they’re not mature enough to make such a decision about the direction of the country. Which is a 100% wholly different argument. If Pauline was primarily arguing “teenagers are old enough and mature enough to make the decision to not get pregnant,” I’d find that a radically dumb argument as well. But while she has said that in passing, she is primarily screaming “parental rights!” Which in this context doesn’t mean they can’t handle such a decision, it means that such a decision is not theirs to begin with.

    And yes, I want 11 and 12 year olds to have access to EC. It’s a horrible thought, as those kids are almost certainly being raped. But watching them get pregnant isn’t going to help matters much. And making them get parental permission sure as hell isn’t going to help, seeing as how it’s likely that a parent is the one raping them, and that if they were comfortable going to their parents about the fact that they were being raped by someone else, they likely would have already.

  40. William
    April 27, 2009 at 10:13 am

    No sorry it is. As long as I can be held legally liable for the actions of an underage minor it sure as hell is.

    Is, or should be? See, theres the rub. You have an opinion, I have an opinion. The only real difference is that mine is law and yours used to be.

    I like to read it literally, as it was written. I actually don’t see the problem between those two parts that you apparently do. Try reading it literally once (or twice)

    The problem with literal readings is that they’re artificial. You can’t divorce a document from it’s context, historical perspective, or underlying theory. A literal reading of the constitution is even more foolish than most context-blind readings because the constitution was specifically designed to be an evolving document. The idea is that it exists to define the roles of government and protect the rights of the people. Those rights come from theory. That theory comes primarily from Locke and Paine with Mill being a heavy influence in it’s later development.

    No I love that one! Which is why I continue to object to the arbitrary erosion of my parental rights!

    Thats a poor reading. See, in order for your “parental rights” to exist they need to be enforced by the government against individuals. One of the most important things to notice is that the constitution’s conception of liberty is fundamentally negative. The entire bill of rights sets out things that the government cannot do. For your “parental rights” to be protected the government would have to actively do something, in this case engage in oversight.

    But thats not really the end of your problem. The 14th amendment guarantees that

    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Now I know, you’re going to argue that that passage protects your parental rights (although thats not quite the literal reading you seemed to argue for before), but you have the problem that your children are also covered by the 14th. Nothing in the constitution gives you special authority over them. That means that the state cannot pass laws to protect a special authority you claim because that would create an unequal protection and would, essentially, mean the state denying your children liberty that is theirs in your name.

    What we have then is a situation of competing rights; there is a competition between the rights claimed by you as a parent and the rights claimed by your child as a person. Your child’s rights are enumerated, confirmed by the Supreme Court, and enshrined in the law. Your parental rights are traditions with a history of abuse.

    Ah, well you should tell that to those parents who get cited for not having the right car seat, or whose kid misses 30 days of school, or damages property, or gets caught disturbing the peace. I’m sure the judges in all those cases will find your argument persuasive (not).

    Your examples don’t work as well as you would like. The car seat example goes right out the window because the protections required for a 5 year old and the protections required for a 16 year old are radically different. The example of missing school also falls somewhat flat because, at 16, your child could legally drop out of school in most (all?) jurisdictions without your permission. Finally, the example of property damage is a poor analogy because a child, of any age, getting EC isn’t going to harm anyone other than potentially themselves. There is no aggrieved party, no one who has a legal claim on the child’s body. You seem to be confusing rights with responsibilities, which is troubling. As a parent, you have certain responsibilities that you must fulfill or else. A right is something that protects and individual from someone doing something to them. Those are very different concepts. To tie them together transforms rights into mere privileges.

    I would object to those privations just as much as I would object to a law limiting access to EC. Still, even if I didn’t, you would still have a problem. Reproductive freedom occupies a fairly unique place in American law. We can argue over whether that is right, but we cannot argue over whether that is so. The current state of the law is that your kid can get EC without you. The onus is on you to prove why that is wrong within the bounds of precedent. Thats the nice thing about having essentially won the pro-choice argument in the courts. I don’t have to prove shit, my position is assumed to be correct in the law. You can whinge and whine all you’d like, you can draw all the poor parallels you can imagine, but those don’t count as truth. Before your position can even be argued you have to disprove the status quo.

    Not my double standard. I just want to live by what’s actually in the document. You’re the one that seems to want to put other stuff into the “spirit” of the “living” document and make other people live by it too.

    I don’t want to make you do anything, I want to restrain the government from doing certain things. In the absence of regulation, peoples lives will play out according to their desires. Laws are required to reduce the realization of certain desires and remove from society those individuals who would infringe upon the rights of others for their own gain. I don’t see a materially harmed party when a 16 year old buys EC, therefore I don’t see the government as having a legitimate interest in involving itself in that transaction. One of the few things the founders agreed upon was that the purpose of government was to maximize liberty (even at the potential expense of other utilities). Thats not the spirit of the document, thats the system of government explicitly laid out. There is no special privilege for parents anywhere in there, nor even a mention of parents or children.

  41. April 27, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Cara:
    I would argue that medical care does, in fact, have similarities to recreational alcohol use, given as many legitimately prescribed or over the counter drugs can have dangerous side effects. I am not very well acquainted with the possible side effects of EC, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect a child to even think about checking for drug interactions. Of course, hopefully the pharmacist or doctor involved would think to ask them about it.

    This all rests on my wishful assumption that we would one day have good enough sex ed that an 11 or 12 year old would know why and how to get EC in the first place if they *were* being abused by a parent.

    William: I think Pauline might benefit from the whole non-enumerated rights concept.

    However–I’m by no means a legal buff, but I wonder if children under a certain age count as full “persons” under the law?

  42. April 27, 2009 at 11:32 am

    “…but I wouldn’t necessarily expect a child to even think about checking for drug interactions.”

    Single-dose oral levonorgestrel has virtually no clinically relevant harmful drug interactions. Theoretically, some anticonvulsants and some more obscure drugs _might_ reduce its contraceptive efficacy, but that’s about it. And, as you identify, it’s the pharmacist’s job to screen for any interactions.

    It has basically no contraindications except existing pregnancy of greater than eight weeks’ gestation (again, part of pre-dose screening), or known true allergy (very rare).

    There is no practical way to overdose on it.

    It is far, far safer than most of the stuff a much younger kid can grab from a supermarket.

  43. William
    April 27, 2009 at 11:45 am

    However–I’m by no means a legal buff, but I wonder if children under a certain age count as full “persons” under the law?

    Thats quite a dangerous path to go down. Once you’ve created an exception as to who counts as a full “person” and who does not you open the door to a variety of unpleasant possibilities. The current state of the law is that, while parents do not own their children, they are responsible for their care and supervision in a variety of contexts. The extent of their authority differs depending on the age of the child and the situation in question, but parents are legally guardians rather than masters.

    The distinction between guardian and authority is an important one. The privileges wielded by legal guardians exist, in theory, to protect the child. A single dose of EC is unlikely to be dangerous, so I don’t really see much in the way of protection to be gained from reducing the access of all individuals under a certain arbitrary age. The only reason to do that is to increase the power and authority of the parent for the sake of that parent’s own comfort. At best it is a guarantee of constant surveillance, at worst it puts quite a few children in active danger. The realistic outcome is going to be that children who want EC will still try to obtain it but they will not talk to a pharmacist directly, will be fall prey to the demands of those who will obtain it for them, will likely pay more under a black/grey market situation (thus increasing the already significant issue of class privilege), and will risk consuming impure, dangerous, or inert drugs. All so a mother like Pauline can imagine (an important distinction, as any restriction will likely be symbolic so long as the drug is available to some class over the counter) that she can be as involved as she would like.

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