Chris Hayes: The Curious Case Of Plan B

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Thank the FSM for Up with Chris Hayes. Where else will you find a substantive debate with civil, intelligent people on both sides of the debate as well as someone who was actually in the trenches of the FDA and understands principle stands--Dr. Susan Wood--on something like the Obama administration's refusal to go along with the FDA's recommendations of allowing Plan B to be an over-the-counter medication.

Digby watched the segment also and reminds us that this is EXACTLY what the Obama administration said they didn't want to do:

Obama had been in office less than two months when he ordered his science advisers to draw up the guidelines. He told government researchers gathered in the White House that he wanted to protect their work from political interference.

"It's about letting scientists, like those who are here today, do their jobs free from manipulation or coercion and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient, especially when it's inconvenient," he said.

It's disappointing, a not altogether unfamiliar feeling when looking at the choices made by this administration. But moreover, in the face of the incredible GOP dumbing down and science skepticism, the one place you'd think you could count on embracing of intelligence and nuance is a Democratic administration. No such luck: (h/t Digby)

I emailed this weekend with several experienced clinicians in this area. They report that Plan B has an award-winning easy-to-read label, that there are very few medical contraindications to this medication. One commented: “We seem to be saying that a young teen can increase her risk of becoming a parent (which entails lots of reading and complex tasks) but not read a label.”

She went on to note evidence of how poor access to care is for teens, how many teens present late for prenatal care, late for contraception following initiation of sexual relationships, and, yes, late for abortion if that is their choice. Plan B is designed for people who are motivated to prevent pregnancy, who should be supported and not hindered. This debate is especially ironic in light of evidence that teens who have had unprotected sex typically do not access emergency contraception, when these medications are free or distributed to them in advance.

As a father of two teenage girls, I share the view held by millions of parents that young teens are wise to wait to engage in sexual intercourse. I certainly understand the moral and political calculations that led Secretary Sebelius to decide as she did. Leaving aside any issues of unintended pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infection, I just don’t see that (say) 14- and 15-year-old girls derive much of value from many of the sexual relations they are likely to have. This is especially true when these relationships are conducted with older teenage boys or young adult men. My public health research judgment: many of these relations are pretty exploitative and crummy.

And that's all the more reason not to saddle these girls--because no matter how developed their bodies may be, they are still girls--with lifetime consequences for the sake of political calculations and playing to the lowest common denominator.


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