The Food and Drug Administration this week announced that the controversial emergency contraceptive “PlanB” tablet has been approved as an over-the-counter drug, and that it’s going to be available for women “15 and older” to purchase.
In case you don’t know what PlanB is, it’s levonorgestrel, a drug that a woman can take after unprotected sex to avoid getting pregnant. Or, to phrase it another way, it’s the morning-after instant abortion pill. While the intent of it is to compensate for “Oh my God! I forgot to take my pill this week!!” the reality is that for some women it’s going to become an alternative to using proper birth control.
For adults I firmly believe that we can make our own decisions, and an adult woman who decides that she’d rather rely on PlanB than any other form of birth control? Well, that’s her decision and will have whatever consequences it’ll have for her long-term health.
The thing that’s bugging me is that the FDA has approved sale of the drug for girls 15 and older. Look closely at the box — there’s even a different form of this drug for women under 17, apparently.
Now I can talk about stats and about the fact that teen pregnancy has actually been dropping for the last few decades and that the CDC published a paper less than a year ago titled Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups, teen birth rate dropping 44% from 1991-2010, but…
But that’s not what’s sticking with me about this story, frankly.
What I can’t quite wrap my head around is that if this had been released on the market two years ago, my oldest could have walked into a pharmacy — or supermarket — and picked up a dose or two of PlanB without us parents ever knowing.
It’s a tricky, controversial issue: at what age do girls transition to women, able to make their own decisions and obtain their own meds and medical treatments without their parents being in the loop or even being notified? Between driving age, age for potential military service, drinking age, and now PlanB purchasing age, it’s clear that no-one in our society has figured out The Age At Which Everything Is Ok.
My daughter already has a boyfriend and is almost halfway through high school. It’s not far down the road she’ll be driving off into the sunset, heading to college, parties, and goodness knows what kind of freshman experiences. If her first year of college was like mine, well. ‘nuf said on that.
She’s old enough to get into trouble, for sure. But is she old enough to be able to sneak into the drugstore and buy PlanB if she realizes that she’s been sexually active without adequate protection?
The very thought makes me just gulp and feel like it’s time to run away. This stuff was way easier when she was in first grade.
If you have a teen daughter, how do you feel about her being able to purchase PlanB without you being notified or involved in the decision?