How the hell do you rationalize this? In a reelection campaign vacuum, that's how. Yes, of course, some young girls may not know how to read the directions -- but there are already plenty of dangerous over the counter drugs to which they have easy access. More importantly, young girls who are pregnant and delay abortion decisions often end up as mothers - which calls for a whole other set of mature decisions for which they may not be prepared:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA today on making the morning-after contraception pill available to teens under 17-years-old without a prescription. Of course, the pill itself has been controversial in the years since its introduction, so it's unsurprising that debate over whether to let minors use it would spur conflict. Still, The Associated Press calls it "a surprise move" that Sebelius would overrule her own experts.
The emergency pill, which prevents pregnancies after intercourse, is already available over-the-counter to those 17 and over, and the FDA had decided women younger than 17 were also able to make a decision whether to use it without a doctor's guidance. The statements from the two camps pretty much stick dryly to issues of whether minors are mature enough to decide such matters.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said today "there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential," but noted that Sebelius had disagreed.
Charles Pierce puts it this way:
This is all on Sebelius — and on the president for whom she works — because she overruled her own panel of experts, which those of us who know a little of the history of Holy Mother Church in this area know is never a good idea.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI was handed a report from his Pontifical Commission on Birth Control that explained, in detail, why HMC should change its position on artificial birth control. The pope threw out his commission's recommendations and issued Humanae Vitae, an encyclical that banned all artificial birth control and, as an added bonus, pretty much guaranteed that millions of American Catholics would never listen seriously to what any pope said about anything, but especially about what they did during sexy time. The subsequent revelation that HMC had been functioning as an international conspiracy to obstruct justice in regards to what its clergy were doing during sexy-time also did not help.
Stupid, Kathleen. And pointless. They're going to hate you anyway.