President Obama is in hot water over a decision by his Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, to limit access to Plan B/Morning After pills to prescription only for girls 17 years old and younger. Women 18 and older still can get the pill over the counter.
President Obama is right on this one. Yes, he’s reputed to be “the most pro-abortion in the history of the United States.” So what? Those who use this to decry Obama’s hypocrisy are ignoring an important aspect of this issue.
While there is a legitimate question concerning the adequacy of the science and whether this pill is safe for “young teens,” there’s a larger matter involved. Sex and pregnancy are serious matters, even for adults. These girls, who are 17 and younger, are both legally and emotionally children. It’s true enough that “18” is an arbitrarily drawn line for defining legal majority. However, it’s also true that children lack the maturity to make reasoned judgments about the risks they run when they engage in various behaviors, including sex.
Whether or not this is the motivation for Obama’s decision, requiring the prescription for minor children is a pathway to getting/keeping parents involved, and parents need to be involved where their children are concerned. Certainly, some children mature faster than others, some parents are bad parents, and many adults make bad decisions. However, that last is irrelevant to this, and the maturation and examples of bad parenting are exceptions—they cannot justify a blanket rule granting all children access to this sort of medication without adult supervision—ideally, their parents’ supervision.