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Secretary Sebelius Makes History
December 8, 2011 1:46 PM   Subscribe

For the first time ever, the Health and Human Services secretary publicly overruled the Food and Drug Administration, refusing Wednesday to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter, including to young teenagers.

President Obama has defended the decision as "the father of two daughters", but asserts that he did not get involved in the process. Editorial reactions range from "the politics of birth control have trumped science and sound public policy"(New York Times) and "We Are All an 11-year-old Girl -- And She Is Pissed" to "Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was right" (Family Research Council).
posted by DWRoelands (323 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wait -- I thought this is already available over the counter (in the sense that you don't need a prescription). Does this mean it's going BACK to being a prescription-only thing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2011


FUCK THIS.

I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. What am I going to have to do to ensure my access to a human right endorsed by the UN, for Chrissakes, in what is ostensibly a 'free' country? Apparently I should just go ahead and plant pennyroyal, parsley, black & blue cohosh now, because the only way to ensure you have control over your reproductive health is to take matters totally into your own hands.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2011 [39 favorites]


WTF?!?

And now after reading Sebelius's Wikipedia entry, I'm even more confused since it seems she's been pretty consistently and staunchly pro-choice in the past.
posted by kmz at 1:50 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's what we like to call shitting in your own mess kit. What an effing genius.
posted by PuppyCat at 1:50 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, it's 'over the counter' in the old sense-- the pharmacist has to get it for you (or, in fact, agree to get it for you, which a whole other issue), and then very carefully check your age to make sure you're over 18. If you're under 18, you can't get it. So making it available next to the condoms would have removed the age barrier and stopped pharmacists from restricting women's access based on their so-called morals.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:51 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


in what is ostensibly a 'free' country?

Where did you get that idea? This country has been less and less since at least 2011.
posted by usagizero at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2011


Please read the articles. It remains freely available for ages 17 and up. Ages 16 or less require a prescription. Still shitty, but I'm guessing she's taking a bullet for the President on this one, even though there is no scientific reason to prohibit it.
posted by cavalier at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wait -- I thought this is already available over the counter (in the sense that you don't need a prescription). Does this mean it's going BACK to being a prescription-only thing?

It looks like the question was whether to expand OTC availability to those 16 and under.
posted by kmz at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2011


Wait -- I thought this is already available over the counter (in the sense that you don't need a prescription). Does this mean it's going BACK to being a prescription-only thing?

It's over the counter for women 17 years and older, and it's still behind the counter (you just don't need a prescription). This change was going to allow it to be stocked on the regular shelf.

This decision sucks. I thought for a minute it that it was 2004 again, I actually had to stop and remember who the president was. Not that it matters, since he supported Sibelius.
posted by cabingirl at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if you're under 18, hope that the condom doesn't break on Friday night unless your doctor has weekend hours? Or am I reading this wrong?
posted by charred husk at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's utter bullshit that they caved on this, and for the most politically craven reasons. What my colleagues are saying is that even the Repubs were taken by surprise.
posted by rtha at 1:54 PM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wait -- I thought this is already available over the counter (in the sense that you don't need a prescription). Does this mean it's going BACK to being a prescription-only thing?

As I understand it, this decision was specifically about making the drug available without a prescription to young women under the age of 17. It has always only been available from a pharmacist (i.e. behind the counter), but women under 17 years old needed a prescription from a doctor first. The FDA was going to lift this age restriction. That's what Sebelius overruled.
posted by zachlipton at 1:54 PM on December 8, 2011


This is a stupid decision politically. No one who is going to get up in arms about Plan B availability for minors is going to vote for Obama anyway.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:55 PM on December 8, 2011 [33 favorites]


I wish there was a way to tag a vote for Obama 2012 at the ballot as "Yes I prefer you, but I fuuuucking loathe you."
posted by basicchannel at 1:56 PM on December 8, 2011 [49 favorites]


I think the White House was worried about abortion becoming an issue in the 2012 election... you know, it might be an unwelcome distraction from the booming economy.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:56 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please read the articles. It remains freely available for ages 17 and up.

Repeated for truth. If you're going to make post on a hot topic, at least get your facts right in the wording, please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


i am seriously ready for fifth or twelfth or whatever wave feminism to be fucking seething style angry again, this shit is fucking donged up five ways to sunday
posted by beefetish at 1:57 PM on December 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think people are sort of missing the point here. This isn't just about age restrictions. This was a workaround for people in states like Georgia, where women are being denied access to the pill by pharmacists under the guise of Christian morality. So really, what this means is the only way to ensure our access to Plan B (and HBC in general) is to keep fighting court battles about whether or not a pharmacist has a right to deny you your medication.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:57 PM on December 8, 2011 [48 favorites]


Proof yet again that the abortion debate in this country isn't about protecting babies, it's about punishing sluts.

Teenage girls who have sex are sluts by definition, and therefore must be punished.
posted by Malor at 1:58 PM on December 8, 2011 [57 favorites]


"We Are All an 11-year-old Girl -- And She Is Pissed"

This is especially true in England.
posted by dng at 1:58 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


As I read Obama's statement again, can someone explain what being the father of two daughters has to do with this decision if the FDA has determined that the drug is, in fact, safe for younger teen girls?
posted by cabingirl at 1:59 PM on December 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


If you're going to make post on a hot topic, at least get your facts right in the wording, please.

In the poster's defense, here's the sentence from the lead paragraph of the NY Times story linked in the FPP:
For the first time ever, the Health and Human Services secretary publicly overruled the Food and Drug Administration, refusing Wednesday to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter, including to young teenagers.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:59 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you have a daughter 11-17, it might not be a bad idea to buy a Plan B kit for her and let her keep it with her stuff, along with regular BC.

She's a lot less likely to initiate the awkward conversation and ask you to buy it for her later on.
posted by miyabo at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2011 [64 favorites]


Why do we even pretend to be enlightened or believe in science? The future is gonna kick our ass.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


As I read Obama's statement again, can someone explain what being the father of two daughters has to do with this decision if the FDA has determined that the drug is, in fact, safe for younger teen girls?

Sex is scary!
posted by Jairus at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2011


Regarding Obama's statement: "He said Sebelius decided 10- and 11-year-olds should not be able to buy the drug 'alongside bubble gum or batteries' because it could have an adverse effect if not used properly. He said 'most parents' probably feel the same way."

One should note that this reasoning could be applied to practically any over-the-counter drug.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2011 [39 favorites]


explain what being the father of two daughters has to do with this decision if the FDA has determined that the drug is, in fact, safe for younger teen girls?

According to the NYT story, the FDA has not determined that:

Ms. Sebelius countered that the drug’s manufacturer had failed to study whether girls as young as 11 years old could safely use Plan B.
posted by jbickers at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're going to make post on a hot topic, at least get your facts right in the wording, please.

The opening line was a direct lift from the New York Times piece. It was not my intent to editorialize or distort. My apologies.
posted by DWRoelands at 2:02 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


miyabo: QFT.

And can't we think of a name other than "Plan B," something that isn't designed to play right into the "personal responsibility" narrative of its opponents?
posted by Navelgazer at 2:02 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


What possible reason is there for this?

Politically stupid.
Morally indefensible.
Scientifically ignorant.

Perhaps my confusion is due to the fact I am the father of just one daughter.
posted by fullerine at 2:02 PM on December 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


I will make myself available to be shoulder-tapped for Plan B.
posted by deadbilly at 2:03 PM on December 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


To be fair to Obama, it is an election year.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if this doesn't convince Republicans to vote for Obama, I don't know what will!
posted by atrazine at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


You have got to be fucking kidding me.

WidgetAlley: "I think people are sort of missing the point here. This isn't just about age restrictions. This was a workaround for people in states like Georgia, where women are being denied access to the pill by pharmacists under the guise of Christian morality. So really, what this means is the only way to ensure our access to Plan B (and HBC in general) is to keep fighting court battles about whether or not a pharmacist has a right to deny you your medication."

Well said.

What a shame we Democrats won't have a better option to choose from in the upcoming Presidential election.
posted by zarq at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2011


Is there a window decal I can apply to indicate I'd go to the pharmacy for any girl who wanted Plan B? I'm thinking a big red B.
posted by CheeseLouise at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2011 [41 favorites]


I must have missed where we elected a Republican.
posted by Cocodrillo at 2:05 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Being fair to Obama is the last thing anyone should do. And to "be fair" to him because it's an election year is the worst reason to ever be fair to a politician because it effectively excuses much of their most despicable behavior.
posted by deadbilly at 2:05 PM on December 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


One should note that this reasoning could be applied to practically any over-the-counter drug.

Exactly. Like cough syrup that taste like bubblegum or cherries and is full of alcohol. Or, god, what if a 10-year-old were to buy athlete's foot cream and put it on a poptart, thinking it was good to eat? Or what if she bought the orange-flavored baby aspirins and ate them all?

Drugstores are so dangerous to children we should obviously close all of them, or at the very least not let anyone under the age of 18 through the door.
posted by rtha at 2:05 PM on December 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


As of now, half of all pregnancies are unplanned, more than 40 percent of children are born to unwed mothers, and 1.2 million abortions are performed every year involving one in every 50 women of reproductive age.

Well, this is it isn't it. The results of America's crusade against sex is not more chaste and virtuous people, but ignorant people living with the results of their ignorance. To be against comprehensive sexual education is to create more abortions and more single mothers: two things these very people are against.

And I wont pin the blame on the right. Democrats are every bit as sex phobic as the right. If they weren't Anthony Weiner would still be in office. Fuck all y'all I'm moving to... um... I am going to become Gore Vidal's pool boy.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Is there a window decal I can apply to indicate I'd go to the pharmacy for any girl who wanted Plan B? I'm thinking a big red B.

The legal implications of doing that are interesting, to say the least.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course, since we don't teach children about contraception anymore anyway, it's not like they will even know about the existence of Plan B, or even where to find it in the drugstore.
posted by cabingirl at 2:07 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Being fair to Obama is the last thing anyone should do. And to "be fair" to him because it's an election year is the worst reason to ever be fair to a politician because it effectively excuses much of their most despicable behavior.

There's a teeny tiny chance the comment might have been sarcastic.
posted by kmz at 2:08 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reproductive rights are one of the only reasons I bother to go to the ballot box and check the Democrat box anymore. If this shit continues it looks like I may be able to start staying home.
posted by something something at 2:09 PM on December 8, 2011


Obama is going to waste the entire next year sucking up to the center and then lose the election anyways.
posted by smackfu at 2:10 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Regarding Obama's statement: "He said Sebelius decided 10- and 11-year-olds should not be able to buy the drug 'alongside bubble gum or batteries' because it could have an adverse effect if not used properly. He said 'most parents' probably feel the same way."

One should note that this reasoning could be applied to practically any over-the-counter drug.


This seems to be the crux of the matter. If Obama is simply playing politics and throwing the Republicans a bone, then his medical excuse is exactly that, a convenient excuse. But--and I'm asking from pure ignorance here--are there serious consequences to a young girl (or grown woman for that matter) taking the pills "improperly"? For example, if a 12 year old thinks she's pregnant--but isn't--and she takes the pills, then there is zero medical risk? Or some girl takes a double dose or something...I'm not saying this is likely, but this seems to be Obama's reasoning. Someone help me out.
posted by zardoz at 2:12 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...it always kind of amazes me that women are considered a discrete special interest" -digby

I've been enraged about this all day. I would say "inexcusable" but of course there's an excuse: the administration couldn't be bothered.

It's amazing how this is one of those things where everyone agrees the real explanation is "we couldn't be bothered having to deal with this fight" and certain people will decide that's a good thing. It's not. This is a perfect example of the cowardice that pisses off progressives on the Obama White House. The administration that promised on Day One that they would not "put politics over policy" just blatantly went out of their way to craft policy that would prevent nasty political ads.

What a complete and total failure of leadership. What an utter shame for millions of women.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2011 [31 favorites]


I think the White House was worried about abortion becoming an issue in the 2012 election... you know, it might be an unwelcome distraction from the booming economy.

That's my guess as to why the Feds picked now to start cracking down on California medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So if you're under 18, hope that the condom doesn't break on Friday night unless your doctor has weekend hours? Or am I reading this wrong?
You could get an adult to buy some for you, and hang on to it until needed.

Anyway this is really about whether or not the pills are "on the shelf" not whether or not they're "over the counter".
As I read Obama's statement again, can someone explain what being the father of two daughters has to do with this decision if the FDA has determined that the drug is, in fact, safe for younger teen girls?
He wants his daughters punished with a pregnancy if they have dirty sex. Or at least punished with the embarrassment of having to ask him if they want contraceptives, apparently. I mean, that's just more consistence with his campaign because he's so good about that stuff.
posted by delmoi at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drugstores are so dangerous to children we should obviously close all of them, or at the very least not let anyone under the age of 18 through the door.

This is a total tangent of course... But there is something profoundly fucked up about our current OTC/prescription policy regime. Acetaminophen, for instance, is a tremendously dangerous drug with serious hepatotoxic effects. There are 30,000 overdoses reported in the United States every year. It's an ingredient in hundreds of OTC medications. Cough medicines regularly contain dextromethorphan, a powerful dissociative that's regularly a drug of abuse. Compare this to a whole range of prescription medicines with relatively mild side effects and limited counterindications.

That said, as an educated adult, I like having access to a wide set of effective drugs that I can take when necessary. And I'm not going to take 20 Tylenols.

Does this justify the risk to those uneducated adults or children who might not read the instructions or who are unaware of the danger of the drug? It's a difficult question, I think.

Total tangent.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does this justify the risk to those uneducated adults or children who might not read the instructions or who are unaware of the danger of the drug? It's a difficult question, I think.

It is a difficult question. Luckily, the FDA has already answered it.
posted by Jairus at 2:18 PM on December 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hey zardoz, from the link that XQUZYPHYR posted, there's a quote: " 'In a statement this afternoon FDA underscored that it "had been carefully evaluating for over a decade whether emergency contraceptives containing levonorgestrel, such as Plan B One-Step, are safe and effective for nonprescription use to reduce the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.

Experts, noted the statement, "including obstetrician/gynecologists and pediatricians, reviewed the totality of the data and agreed that it met the regulatory standard for a nonprescription drug and that Plan B One-Step should be approved for all females of child-bearing potential." ... Based on the information submitted to the agency, CDER determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases."


So at least with my very casual amount of Googling it sounds like there was a lot of medical and scientific deliberation about this decision, and that it was decided that risks for the >17 crowd were no greater than for any other over the counter medication.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:18 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Of course, since we don't teach children about contraception anymore anyway, it's not like they will even know about the existence of Plan B, or even where to find it in the drugstore.

The religious boarding school I went to never taught sex ed. And they were around long before I came onto the scene and are still going strong. From their webpage: "One of a system of schools, elementary, secondary, collegiate and university level -- operated for the purpose of educating youth in the ideals, beliefs, and customs of the church."

Access to Plan B is big problem, but freaking finding out about it is just as big a problem. When places like this are allowed to cloister you in boarding schools without access to real life, well...I just checked. As when I attended listening devices are not allowed on campus. They also block sites like Myspace and Facebook through their network, along with a note that email is not private, but considered to be part of school records, as are deleted emails and files.

Put me down for will provide plan B to anyone, no matter if I go to jail for it.
posted by thelastcamel at 2:20 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


We should start keeping a tally of the number of own goals Obama scores.
posted by notyou at 2:22 PM on December 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


Does this justify the risk to those uneducated adults or children who might not read the instructions or who are unaware of the danger of the drug? It's a difficult question, I think.

It is, and I think that's part of the reason we get some of the inconsistencies that you point out. Smart people can disagree about difficult questions, and when policy requires compromise between those perspectives, you're going to see some inconsistent results.

In some cases, more dangerous medications may become openly available because they are intended to treat a larger percentage of the populace, while a medication that poses less risk might remain prescription-only because it's needed by fewer people.
posted by red clover at 2:23 PM on December 8, 2011


For example, if a 12 year old thinks she's pregnant--but isn't--and she takes the pills, then there is zero medical risk?

Nothing has "zero medical risk." But I'm guessing the risk is way, way lower than it is for, say, Tylenol.
posted by KathrynT at 2:24 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


This country has been less and less since at least 2011.

Whoa.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:24 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's "reaching across the aisle" and political compromise, and then there's going out of your way to appeal to your opponents to an extent that surprises even them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:27 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


A 12 year old girl can walk into most any drug store, grocery store, or gas station in the country, buy Tylenol off the shelf without speaking to so even a pharmacy tech, down the entire bottle, and probably destroy her liver. There are no serious efforts to restrict this in any way, shape, or form.
posted by zachlipton at 2:30 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Where did you get that idea? This country has been less and less since at least 2011 2001.
FTFY
posted by b1tr0t at 2:32 PM on December 8, 2011


We generally accept that kids make mistakes and that they should be protected from the most dire consequences of their actions. So clearly, free access to emergency contraception measures should be limited to adults. Err, wait.

Calls to mind a line from Arrested Development: "They're adults, they're allowed to have fun whenever they want. We're kids, we're supposed to be working!"

Also, this seems like a phenomenal miscalculation on the administration's part. The "as the father of two daughters" quote and the "apply some common sense to various rules" quote both call to mind the worst and most patronizing rhetoric of the Republican party... "As the father of two daughters, the idea of exposing eleven-year-olds to sexual education seems wildly inappropriate." ... "I think it's important that we apply common sense rules; marriage is between a man and a woman."

And "I did not get involved with this process" is no better. You should have gotten involved, dummy! This is one of the few situations where you are actually responsible for the thing people are going to blame you for. You're going to wash your hands of it and support the decision? Even Pontius Pilate didn't add "but if you guys kill Jesus I'm totally behind that."

And I say that as a longtime (and continuing) supporter of Obama. This concerns me, not just because I disagree with it so strongly (which I do), but because there is no conceivable upside. If he hopes to avoid a family-values fight during an election season, he just hasn't been paying attention because the Republicans are fighting that battle every season regardless of whether it makes sense. And look at the mind-bogglingly stupid mistakes the Republican candidates are making when they get frenzied about an issue! Taking a stand here could easily get Perry and Bachmann to make some moronic comment about how the holocaust was Hitler's "Plan B" or something.

No, the only consequence will be to alienate people who believe teenagers shouldn't have to raise a kid for the next eighteen years just because a condom broke. It should just be enough that those people are right, Obama, but they're also going to decide not to canvass for you and that is something you're going to feel.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:32 PM on December 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


Cop out to avoid hassle from GOP...win for conservatives; loss for young girls. Thank god girls
under 18 do not get pregnant.
posted by Postroad at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I understand political calculus, I know that the various politicians often do not so much what they think is right, but what they think will win them votes.

What I don't understand is how, even from the most craven and cowardly political standpoint, this makes any sense at all.

Among the people who are deeply worried about Plan B and deeply invested in punishing sluts, none will vote for Obama no matter what he does to try and pander to them. He could completely ban all forms of birth control and mandate scarlet A's for sluts, and they would not vote for him.

Among the people who might vote for Obama, none are going to be particularly pushed towards voting for him due to this decision.

Among the people who support Obama, this decision is going to be reviled.

So, what I don't get, is how he came to the conclusion that it was a good idea from a craven political standpoint, to do this?
posted by sotonohito at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2011


cabingirl: "As I read Obama's statement again, can someone explain what being the father of two daughters has to do with this decision if the FDA has determined that the drug is, in fact, safe for younger teen girls?"

It is the age-old reason.
Fathers want their sons to start getting laid at 5 years old. They'd like to see their daughters remain virgins till they're 25 and even then they don't want to know about it.


There is no valid scientific reason for the drug to be restricted. There are little if any side effects. there is zero harm to a fetus if a woman is fully pregnant. As others have stated this drug is no more dangerous than many other drugs.

While we are it, can we please make Sudafed and other medicines containing phenylephrine back to be OTC as well? Seriously. I can buy meth easier than I can sudafed. If there was a way to convert meth to Sudafed I might start me up a new business
posted by 2manyusernames at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


> It's utter bullshit that they caved on this, and for the most politically craven reasons. What
> my colleagues are saying is that even the Repubs were taken by surprise.
> posted by rtha at 4:54 PM on December 8 [1 favorite +] [!]

To whom did they cave, then?
posted by jfuller at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2011


So, what I don't get, is how he came to the conclusion that it was a good idea from a craven political standpoint, to do this?

I guess we've all decided that it's utterly impossible that he's telling the truth when he says that the decision was made by Sibelius, and not by him?

Is there a text of any kind outlining Sibelius's reasons for the decision (not reporting on them but giving them in her own words)?
posted by yoink at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2011


On safety of the drug [nytimes]:
For Dr. Hamburg, the studies and experts all agreed that young women would benefit from having easy access to the pill and did not need the intervention of a health care provider. The agency’s scientists, she wrote, “determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted disease.”
The research concluded that the pill was safe. Obama/Sebelius had no research to counter the FDA. This was a political decision which had nothing to do with science or improving public health.
posted by scelerat at 2:38 PM on December 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Another reason for ignoring Obama's campaign. There should be way more interesting news anyways if 2012 goes like 2011.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:39 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess we've all decided that it's utterly impossible that he's telling the truth when he says that the decision was made by Sibelius, and not by him?

Yeah, I'm wondering this as well. He says he wasn't involved in the decision. Lots of people seem to be assuming he is flat out lying.
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a text of any kind outlining Sibelius's reasons for the decision (not reporting on them but giving them in her own words)?

Here is the HHS Press Statement by Sec. Sibelius on the decision. Here (PDF) is her letter to the FDA commissioner.
posted by zachlipton at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


November 2012 is the entire reason President Obama made the statement opposing minor access to Plan B - and also the reason he claimed to not have interfered with the process.

He's trying to get fence-sitting anti-choice votes, while still washing his hands of it.

Frankly, this is about how he played on DADT, as well, and legalizing medical marijuana ("We won't prosecute" was an early Obama administration claim). Someday we may find out that Obama's administration has been pulling secret strings for Good and Freedom, all the while appearing to be a vote-pandering whore to stay elected.

Or, it may just be luck and timing that some good things he promised us are happening despite his promise-breaking.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


For example, if a 12 year old thinks she's pregnant--but isn't--and she takes the pills, then there is zero medical risk?

1. You don't take Plan B if you "think you're pregnant" whether or not you may end up pregnant or not. Plan B stops you from getting pregnant. You take it within 72 hours of sex.

2. If you meant "thinks the unprotected sex she just had could make her pregnant," then how would a 12 year old thinking she needs Plan B be different than a 17 year old thinking that? Clearly in either case you are a sexually active female who just had sex with someone.

3. Of course there isn't zero medical risk. There isn't zero medical risk taking an Advil. But the FDA has never been instructed to perform safety tests on overdosing on Advil if you're under 11 because well no shit 11 years olds shouldn't take Advil if they don't need it. Yet for the first time ever, they decided that for this drug for some reason, that was reason to coincidentally make a landmark decision overruling an FDA recommendation for the first time in history that just happened to avoid a PR blitz from religious conservatives. Jesus I actually got a sour taste in my mouth as I wrote that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2011 [25 favorites]


If the decision was made by Sebelius independently of Obama's influence, he should request her resignation. It is anti-science, anti-public health, anti-woman. If not, we should request his.
posted by scelerat at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


So, what I don't get, is how he came to the conclusion that it was a good idea from a craven political standpoint, to do this?

Politics is tactics, and there is often value in deflating your opponent's issues. Alternately, a different angle? If you're truly going to delve into the craven-and-cowardly possibilities, then you could conspiracy-theorize all day long about what this action might have been traded for.
posted by red clover at 2:41 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was done to increase Republican cooperation on a payroll tax cut, the most conservative component of Obama's jobs bill (which has now been stripped down to scraps).

When it's time to appease Republicans to get them to implement ideas they have endorsed elsewhere, the Obama admin. discovers bold and new maneuvers never before seen.

When it's time to get anything left-of-center through Congress, there are no attempts to use even traditional channels of pressure, and there's nothing anybody could've done anyway.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 2:42 PM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Even if HHS hadn't intervened, I doubt Plan-B would've been available next to the condoms. I'm betting most pharmacies would've kept it behind the counter anyway, even if it they did make it available without an age limit.

Anyway, lets hope this gets appealed. Otherwise I doubt any of the current White House contenders, apparently including Obama, will be sanctioning an OTC morning-after unborn-person murder-pill for kids
posted by PJLandis at 2:43 PM on December 8, 2011


I guess we've all decided that it's utterly impossible that he's telling the truth when he says that the decision was made by Sibelius, and not by him?

If this was in opposition to his policy views and done with no consultation with him then the fact that he has not asked Sebelius to resign is pretty much proof he supports what she did.

He had no problem taking credit and standing with his cabinet secretary for the State Department when SEALS shot bin Laden in the face. She's the head of Human Services and this was section A news for the last three days. Of course he knew.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:45 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


yoink I'm assuming that because a precedent breaking decision by the secretary of Health and Human Resources to overrule a decade of research by the FDA is not exactly something that happens daily.

Also because he hasn't demanded her resignation which is what, if she weren't doing this on his behalf, he should be doing.

Also, because Obama has demonstrated himself repeatedly to be a lying scumbag on issues of civil rights and human rights. I might, if it weren't for Obama's back stabbing on prior civil/human rights issues believe him on this. But it fits his standard pattern, make nice speeches about human rights and civil rights then work to crush them.
posted by sotonohito at 2:46 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Heh. The risk is negligible. As a fifteen year-old I had three prescriptions to narcotics, and kept them in my desk drawer. And narcotics are a sight more dangerous than birth control. Idiots can and will misuse anything. You can slip and fall in the tub.

Plan B is a hormone, levonorgestrel. It could start your period earlier, and you could experience PMS symptoms: breast tenderness, cramping, headache and nausea (for those wondering about ill effects). If you are already pregnant, it will not harm the fetus.

Women take this all the time: it's in combination birth control pills. This is just a slightly higher dose.
posted by thelastcamel at 2:48 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess we've all decided that it's utterly impossible that he's telling the truth when he says that the decision was made by Sibelius, and not by him?

Are we now trusting Sibelius to decide on what drugs are safe rather than the FDA? That's a bit of a policy switch, isn't it?
posted by smackfu at 2:48 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just want to clarify here. Nothing changed, right?
posted by empath at 2:48 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Rovian tactic that seemed to work for republicans in the 2000s was to attack opponents' perceived strengths. Al Gore well-informed and experienced? No, a boring know-it-all who doesn't understand common people. John Kerry (Max Cleland, etc) a war hero? No, a faker. And so on.

Here instead we have Obama taking some of his perceived strengths (rationality, progressivism, women's health) and doing his opponents' job himself. He is not deflating his opponents' issues; he is deflating his own.

Why he is not attacking Republicans as the ones who are anti-family, anti-middle-class, pro-poverty -- demonstrable and high in public consciousness following OWS and nearly every vote cast by congressional gopers in the last four years -- is beyond me.
posted by scelerat at 2:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


@empath, Right. Nothing has changed since the Bush administration decided to start throwing science out the window and make all decisions based on what the Religious Right wants. Obama is merely continuing that policy.
posted by sotonohito at 2:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck Sebelius. Seriously. Your Kansas is showing, Secretary, with a dash of your Roman Catholic upbringing, and it is some BULLSHIT. I can't believe I was ever happy or excited about her taking public office. Every time I think the Dems can't get more excruciatingly stupid, they somehow manage to surprise me.

I also can't believe I've been teasing my boyfriend about his libertarian leanings, because if this shit keeps up, yours truly is dropping her lifelong Democratic affiliation and saying the hell with it. I just can't justify supporting people who hate me so damn much they make the Ron Paul+ people sound freaking reasonable.

Someone better change Sebelius' Wikipedia page that proclaims she is "staunchly pro-choice," while we're at it. This is about as far from being pro-choice as it gets.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fathers want their sons to start getting laid at 5 years old. They'd like to see their daughters remain virgins till they're 25 and even then they don't want to know about it.

Soooo... in an effort to not know about his daughters' sexuality, he's ensured that they have to seek his consent for emergency contraception?

Seriously, I would think the "father of two daughters" logic would swing the OTHER way to "As the father of daughters, whom I would like to see choose to become mothers rather than having parenthood foisted upon them by lack of contraception, I'm going to put Plan B right next to the Skittles." (Well, ok, maybe next to the Tylenol to be slightly more discreet.)

I don't have any daughters yet, but I have a son and seriously one of the things that's most important to me to teach him is "Look, you can have sex and not get a girl pregnant." It's one of my goals as a parent that he know how to use a condom by the time he takes his PSATs. (Do they still take PSATs?)
posted by sonika at 2:54 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another possibility, though unlikely - Sebilius actually did do this on her own, knowing that Obama wouldn't risk firing her over this issue and making it what the campaign becomes about.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:54 PM on December 8, 2011


(Though if that were true, what a bizarre hill for Sebilius to choose to die on.)
posted by Navelgazer at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


When the Obama administration pulls crap like this in order to get Republican support for already-neutered compromises, I'm reminded of Graham Greene's Doctor Fischer of Geneva. In that book, the titular sadist holds dinner parties in which he forces his willing guests to endure all manner of ridiculous humiliations, just so that they can get gewgaws and baubles like watches and such. His guests are already wealthy, and they willingly come to his parties, but their greed and lack of self-respect pulls them in every time.

It's not greed that motivates Obama here - it's having to jump through hoops to make even the most basic of things happen - but I wish he'd call shenanigans.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2011


This is about as far from being pro-choice as it gets.

The hyperbole is a little absurd, don't you think? I can think of positions that are a lot less pro-choice than that.
posted by empath at 3:02 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just want to clarify here. Nothing changed, right?

Yes and no. Short term, nothing has changed, but long term, this decision is precedent for future administrations to overrule the FDA, for whatever reason.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:07 PM on December 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


A couple of side notes...

Considering that I know plenty of educated adults who use Plan B as their main birth control, some more education about it NOT BEING PLAN A is certainly in order for all ages.

If I were a health educator, youth advocate, HS health teacher, etc., I would start educating people on the morning-after use of regular birth control pills. The Pill needs a Rx, of course, but it is one alternative to Plan B.
posted by skbw at 3:08 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can think of positions that are a lot less pro-choice than that.

And I can think of cabinet-level positions appointed by an ostensibly Democratic president that are supposed to reflect what the people who effing put them in office believe, so let's all practice our own little thought experiments, shall we? For all the good it'll do us...

This isn't about the possibility of there being even MORE anti-choice possibilities -- of course there are -- it's about a president and his appointees essentially shitting on at least 50% or more of their own damn party -- and for what? No matter how many times they kiss up to the other side -- IT DOES NOT WORK. Cuddling up to the bully doesn't make him forget to smash your teeth in.

Letting this sort of precedent get set doesn't make reproductive rights any easier to maintain. As Brandon said above, short term, nothing changed, but long term...? Come on. You have to fight to keep your rights from slipping away, and letting the president and his people get away with this sort of nonsense is just as bad as electing the (even worse) options on the other side of the political spectrum.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:15 PM on December 8, 2011


Another possibility, though unlikely - Sebilius actually did do this on her own, knowing that Obama wouldn't risk firing her over this issue and making it what the campaign becomes about.

No offense but that's Aaron Sorkin-level ridiculous. She serves at the pleasure of the president. If she did anything like that against his wishes, he'd fire her instantly and replace her with someone who would reverse it.

When the Obama administration pulls crap like this in order to get Republican support for already-neutered compromises

I know a lot of people are making the "well surely THIS will get Republicans to support him" comments but it should be really emphasized that this isn't about Republican votes. Obama was never going to get them. He knows he was never going to get them. Instead, it's about being afraid, or maybe just tired, of the media shit funnel.

For example, two weeks or so ago when the completely bullshit "Christmas Tree Tax" Drudge siren went up. Obama just wanted to not have this happen. He didn't want ads saying "Obama wants to give ten years old abortion pills." It doesn't matter that all but like, three words of that sentence would be a complete lie. He just couldn't be bothered to deal with it. He chose not having that fight over the potential health and safety of millions of women.

And that's been happening over and over and over again. It's not about "winning Republicans." It's about winning moderates in Nevada and Arizona and North Carolina and Florida. It's about getting 51% in a handful of states. Because that's easier than the Obama who faced matters on the campaign trail in 2008 with the revolutionary idea of talking to Americans like they were actually grownups.

And it's going to fail, and that scares me to death. Because this plan? The whole "fuck it, it's either me or the Republican so take it and like it" thing? Didn't work in 2000. Didn't work in 2004. It's not going to work in 2012. And it's a goddamn shame.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

-John F. Kennedy
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just can't justify supporting people who hate me so damn much they make the Ron Paul+ people sound freaking reasonable.

The anti-abortion Ron Paul people? I'm upset too, but this is getting absurd.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


... and if you listen very, very carefully you may hear a whisper of complaint about Big Guv'mint from the libertarian fringe.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2011


Comments here are running about 100% against Sebelius's decision, and understandably so. I don't like it either.

That being said, I think it is the right decision. This topic--sex and abortion for underage girls--is exactly the kind of red meat that the Republicans exploit so effectively to defeat Democrats.

Had Sebelius NOT made this decision, then Republicans would have introduced legislation to ban the over the counter sale. Democrats would have to defend their votes against charges that they are in favor of underage girls having sex and having abortions without parental supervision. Or Democrats would have to support the legislation, which then might pass with enough support to override any veto, assuming Obama tried to. The country would be in another DADT situation, which might take decades to overturn. This decision can be overturned by the HHS Secretary at any time, possibly after the election.

It is very likely that Ginsberg will retire in the next four years. If Obama is defeated in 2012, she will be replaced by a conservative, and Roe v. Wade will be overturned. While this decision is very distasteful to many pro-choice voters, including this one, largely preventing the Republicans from exploiting this issue is the pragmatic, if unpleasant, course, IMHO.
posted by haiku warrior at 3:25 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR, I know it's ridiculous, but all versions of this are Aaron-Sorkin-Level ridiculous, as you say. All Obama and Sebelius had to do was say, "look at the unanimous ruling from the FDA here, which the HHS Secretary simply doesn't question because they are scientists and we are administrators" and this would have blown over, more or less. Might have pissed off some GOP Base who already hate him, but pretty much a non-story.

After all, he's already used his "As the father of two daughters" lead-in to explain why this sort of thing should be available.Any way you slice it, this is just weird. Not conspiracy-theory weird (I was just having some fun there) but weird nonetheless.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2011


That being said, I think it is the right decision. This topic--sex and abortion for underage girls--is exactly the kind of red meat that the Republicans exploit so effectively to defeat Democrats.

What is the point of Democrats winning if they will sacrifice any core value for victory?
posted by munchingzombie at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Just want to clarify here. Nothing changed, right?

Obama stopped change, is more correct.
posted by smackfu at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2011


The anti-abortion Ron Paul people? I'm upset too, but this is getting absurd.

Yeah, I know. I'm sorry, I'm just wicked pissed off right now. There are absolutely no candidates out there who don't think, as a Certified Owner of a Vagina, I am not...

* too dumb to manage it
* dumb, period

and the whole thing just has me seeing so much red that Metafilter is currently a very pleasing shade of purple. No doubt I'll hold my nose and vote for Obama again, but you sure as hell can't make me LIKE it with shenanigans like these.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:37 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


munchingzombie: " What is the point of Democrats winning if they will sacrifice any core value for victory?"

I don't agree with the decision either. But though pro-choice policies may (and I'm not even sure that's been honestly true in 20 years) be a Democratic value, it has never been as simple as "everything that is considered pro-choice' is a 'core value' - it's about weighing decisions and options. You folks seem to think that every person who votes for a Democratic person is a definitely pro-choice, and that anybody who would be upset about minors having unfettered access to ECPs would never vote for Obama anyway, and that is absolutely, 100% NOT TRUE. I still this decision is wrong one. But if you compare it to the centrist steps that Clinton took in 1995 (and earlier) to get re-elected (not to mention shit he did afterward), it wouldn't even have been a blip on the radar. It would have never gotten to that point to be a public decision back then.

But back in the present day, it's still not a decision I agree with, but while it prevents a desired change, there are plenty of reasons to make it that aren't signs that The Handsmaid's Tale is right around the corner. (The country will be bankrupt before that can ever happen anyway.) And if it gets you fired up to take some action or give money to your local women's health organization of choice, go for it. But the end result isn't changing anything for now and if it had passed, it would be taken away in under 6 months anyway because, as has been noted, if this had actually passed, Congress would have approved a bill to block sales to minors first chance they got. And that's the type of shit Obama has to consider when making these decisions.

It sucks, but it's the system we're still living under for now. Representative Democracy, pissing people off for two hundred plus years.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:02 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think there's a distinction some of you may be missing. This is for emergency contraceptives... like RU-486. Not for regular contraceptive, like condoms. That said, this has got to be a re-election year decision.
posted by crunchland at 4:02 PM on December 8, 2011


What is the point of Democrats winning if they will sacrifice any core value for victory?

This is a tactical partial retreat on one of many, many issues. On energy, environment, taxation, health care, the economy, foreign policy, and especially reproductive rights, the country is far better off with Democrats than Republicans. How would President Romney or President Gingrich approach these issues?

Holding the line here only to lose everything in 2012, including on this one? No thank you, says this concerned citizen.
posted by haiku warrior at 4:08 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't about the possibility of there being even MORE anti-choice possibilities -- of course there are -- it's about a president and his appointees essentially shitting on at least 50% or more of their own damn party -- and for what?

Do you have polling on how many democrats support over the counter sales of Plan B to minors? Because I bet it's not 50%.
posted by empath at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is for emergency contraceptives... like RU-486. Not for regular contraceptive, like condoms.

No, crunchland, this is for emergency contraceptives containing levonorgestrel, such as Plan B One-Step. RU-486 is mifepristone, an abortifacent. Emergency contraception, aka Plan B in the USA and possibly elsewhere, uses higher doses of the same kind of hormones that are used in the ordinary contraceptive pill (I have three months worth of levonorgestrel-containing pills sitting right here).
posted by Lebannen at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


This is for emergency contraceptives... like RU-486.

No. Those are two very different things.

EC is just that: contraception. It stops a pregnancy.

RU-486 is for abortions.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:21 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I say 50% of the party I mean women. Hard to vote for someone who doesn't think YOU can be trusted.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:22 PM on December 8, 2011


There are absolutely no candidates out there who don't think, as a Certified Owner of a Vagina, I am not...

* too dumb to manage it
* dumb, period


Are you over the age of 17? Then you can still get OTC Plan B without a prescription.
posted by empath at 4:23 PM on December 8, 2011


When I say 50% of the party I mean women. Hard to vote for someone who doesn't think YOU can be trusted.

I don't even think a majority of women support OTC sales of plan b to minors.
posted by empath at 4:23 PM on December 8, 2011


Empath is correct; the number of people outraged over this decision is relatively small. That doesn't mean they're not right since right isn't a majority vote, but it isn't a huge number of people.
posted by Justinian at 4:25 PM on December 8, 2011


When I found myself not caring much about this, I thought back to being in high school, and how powerless and shitty it can feel to be basically a full blown person but totally subject to everyone else's rules, and the outrageous shitstorm that would result if high school girlfriend got pregnant... it sucks. A lot.

From a public health perspective, it seems stupid; from a women's rights perspective, it seems retrograde; as far as treating kids like dignified human beings, it feels just plain cruel.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:30 PM on December 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


How would President Romney or President Gingrich approach these issues?

Right, this is exactly the political calculus the Administration is using. Everyone knows liberals are waaaay too chickenshit to stay home and let that other guy get elected, so Obama pretty much has carte blanche to piss on progressive values if it wins him votes from the center.
posted by indubitable at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2011


I am honestly surprised minors can buy any OTC medications.

I am honestly torn about this. I want everyone to have access but selling it to 10 year olds without a parent or doctors knowing sticks in my craw. Some people really are too inexperienced to deal with it alone I think.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:37 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So we're applying the "fuck you, I got mine," standard, empath? Just because I am well past 17 -- and for that matter, I have a passport and could be over the Canadian border in a matter of hours if need be -- doesn't mean I am not concerned with the women who may need access to Plan B and who are not in the same fortunate position I am.

It's being concerned for the needs of others, something that seems sadly lacking here. Those who are least prepared to raise a child find the most barriers put in front of them when they try to do the responsible thing. You want less unwanted pregnancies? Well, there's several ways to make that happen and it seems real sex ed is no longer an option, so...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:39 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows liberals are waaaay too chickenshit to stay home and let that other guy get elected

Chickenshit? Staying home on election day isn't a product of courage, it's a product of ignorance and/or petulance and privilege.

I think MCMikeNamara put it very well up-thread.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree with empath I guess. When I think of a high dose hormone I think of it as a rather serious agent and it being sold OTC with gum to minors seems illogical to me. I know it's a war but I'm not sure this particular sub-issue is going to be substantive in the long run. I'm very pro-choice so if I react like this, I can't imagine a majority of America is going to accept 'open slather' on Plan B products. I think it's a reflection of societal thinking rather than a cynical election year strategy or the somesuch.
posted by peacay at 4:41 PM on December 8, 2011


Chickenshit?

Yup, chickenshit. You support some guy goes against against your values because he knows he can get away with it? Oh well, the alternative is bad, so I won't bother standing up for what I believe in. That's chickenshit.
posted by indubitable at 4:44 PM on December 8, 2011


I think abstinence should be taught for children that young in addition to other forms of birth control. I don't believe in abstinence only education but I also don't believe elementary school aged children should be having sex. (I don't think I would've been able to afford Plan B on my own when I was that age, anyway.)
posted by girlmightlive at 4:45 PM on December 8, 2011


The number of 10-year-olds who are sexually active and able to get pregnant is vanishingly small. The number of 15- and 16-year-olds is not. The concern over little kids buying *this particular* medication OTC, but it's okay that they can buy other OTC meds that are vastly more dangerous is absurd.

Also, even if you don't have a uterus, even if you were never a teenage girl, you should still be pissed that the actual science on this, as presented by scientists, MDs, and public health experts, was just waved off and ignored for the sake of bullshit politics.
posted by rtha at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh well, the alternative is bad, so I won't bother standing up for what I believe in. That's chickenshit.

So you propose to stand up for what you believe in by contributing to the election of someone who stands for nothing you believe in? Congratulations, you somehow turned "standing up for what you believe in" into "Nihilism."
posted by joe lisboa at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The concern over little kids buying *this particular* medication OTC, but it's okay that they can buy other OTC meds that are vastly more dangerous is absurd.

I am actually kinda concerned about those too, we see the issues with Tylenol coming to light.

I do want 15 and 16 year olds to have access but I really do think we need some cut off point.

The number of 10-year-olds who are sexually active and able to get pregnant is vanishingly small

I am more worried about 10 year olds doing something that would not get them pregnant, or being molested, and having them think they are pregnant out of anxiety and popping these pills.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:53 PM on December 8, 2011


So you propose to stand up for what you believe in by contributing to the election of someone who stands for nothing you believe in? Congratulations, you somehow turned "standing up for what you believe in" into "Nihilism."

Right, your post is a prime example of the mentality I was talking about. You're too afraid of the short term consequences of an even more right wing candidate winning that you refuse to demonstrate that your demands, too, must be placated, lest you take your vote elsewhere. Right now people like you are a guaranteed vote, Obama can do nearly anything against you and not have to worry about any kind of electoral consequences.
posted by indubitable at 4:54 PM on December 8, 2011


So we're applying the "fuck you, I got mine," standard, empath?

I guess you could put it that way. Or you could say it's the same standard as watching R rated movies or drinking beer.

In any case, I never said if I was for or against the decision. I just think it's important to note that it's not a change in the law, and that it's likely going to be a popular decision.

I actually think it's probably bad policy, but I can't argue with it on political grounds.
posted by empath at 4:58 PM on December 8, 2011



I am honestly torn about this. I want everyone to have access but selling it to 10 year olds without a parent or doctors knowing sticks in my craw. Some people really are too inexperienced to deal with it alone I think.


If I had been raped at fourteen, or fifteen or sixteen (and I know girls who were), my parents would have beaten me bloody. I never kissed a guy until I was 18 (fortunately I was never caught kissing girls) and they still beat me black and blue from base of spine to ankle for other, minor offenses. We're talking solid black, not a couple of welts or bruises. And every adult I knew was in the church. There was no safe person for me to talk to, if I'd been sexually assaulted. And I would have been scared as hell of ending up pregnant.

I was regularly left alone in bookstores. *If* I'd had a problem and *if* something had been available over the counter and *if* I knew about it, I would have been able to nip 'round to a drugstore down the street. And that would have been a fuckload safer than telling any adult I knew. If I'd been raped and gotten pregnant, the school would not have allowed me to stay enrolled in a pregnant condition, and my parents were not equipped to educate me(neither was the religious school, but that's another story) at home. I would not have been allowed to have an abortion, or to go to public school. My life would have been over, with an infant, no job, no education, and no hope. I would have lived with my parents and any child I have would have been abused as well.

We do NOT need to making this happen to kids. I know I can't have been the only one in a situation like that. Nasty things like this happen.

Stop trying to decide the rest of children's lives.

Ignorant, well-meaning "it's for the children" people, even the ones who are nice and just a bit dim make me want to go after them with a bat.
posted by thelastcamel at 4:58 PM on December 8, 2011 [39 favorites]


I am honestly torn about this. I want everyone to have access but selling it to 10 year olds without a parent or doctors knowing sticks in my craw. Some people really are too inexperienced to deal with it alone I think.
Some young women have to deal with these experiences and I think a society which utterly fails them to the extent that they find themselves in that situation could at least give them the tools to deal with it themselves.

Inexperienced? Some people are experienced in decision making which those three times their age would have difficulty with, whether or not they want to be.

As much as we would like to ignore the realities facing some young people there's a world of difference between hoping the problem goes away and actively making things worse because we don't want to face our shortcomings.

Your discomfort is not part of this equation.

I'm sorry it sticks in your craw, but you know, tough fucking shit.
posted by fullerine at 5:01 PM on December 8, 2011 [27 favorites]


This is a tactical partial retreat on one of many, many issues. On energy, environment, taxation, health care, the economy, foreign policy, and especially reproductive rights, the country is far better off with Democrats than Republicans. How would President Romney or President Gingrich approach these issues?

If the ends justify the means, what, then, justifies our ends?
posted by Avenger at 5:01 PM on December 8, 2011


The way to keep little kids from taking Plan B because they're afraid they got pregnant from kissing a boy is to have full, comprehensive sex education that begins in the second or third grade. Or earlier.
posted by rtha at 5:02 PM on December 8, 2011 [25 favorites]


Pregnancy among 13 to 16 year olds isn't uncommon. Go visit your local H.S. adult school campus. Think about the students there and how many didn't even make it there and dropped out entirely.

Those are the young adults effected by this. They are already an "at risk"* group. It's also likely that those kids are not supported emotionally and intellectually by their parents. Parents who are NOT going to go score some Plan B for them.

It's all incredibly insane to me because this is the same group that so many complain about having abortions and/or being on the dole.

Make up your mind, U.S. GOVT. Do you have a clear mission? Anything? Hello?

*At risk for drugs, alcoholism, crime, joblessness, homelessness, unwanted pregnancy...all of which can be avoided with planning and education.
posted by snsranch at 5:03 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I had been raped at fourteen, or fifteen or sixteen (and I know girls who were), my parents would have beaten me bloody.

Like I said, fourteen fifteen or sixteen are fine, I want them to have access.

I have problems with ten or eleven year olds buying any OTC medication.

Stop trying to decide the rest of children's lives.

Ignorant, well-meaning "it's for the children" people, even the ones who are nice and just a bit dim make me want to go after them with a bat.


This isn't really going to convince me I am wrong, and I don't think this will work on many Americans who are against selling plan b to minors.

I am done with this conversation.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:07 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The way to keep little kids from taking Plan B because they're afraid they got pregnant from kissing a boy is to have full, comprehensive sex education that begins in the second or third grade. Or earlier

I agree 150% with this
posted by Ad hominem at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2011


You're too afraid of the short term consequences of an even more right wing candidate winning that you refuse to demonstrate that your demands, too, must be placated, lest you take your vote elsewhere.

I know enough about American civics to know that Supreme Court appointments are not short term for any sane value of the phrase short term.

I am bowing out so folks can discuss pre-teen access to birth control and not the fact that we live in a representative democracy with two major parties and divided government. Sorry if it came across as a derail.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:10 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having Plan B behind the counter instead of next to the Tylenol or whatever is annoying when you're an adult too, because (afaik, correct me if I'm wrong here) it means you can only get it during pharmacy hours. Nothing like driving around to three different CVSes in the middle of the night trying to find one where the pharmacy is still open.
posted by naoko at 5:12 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is displeasing. This is very displeasing. But let's not forget that Obama is still the guy who fought the right-wing establishment in order to get Kagan and (especially) Sotomayor onto the Supreme Court. Stack that up against the nakedly machiavellian decision that his administration made today. Which is more important? Which is more long-lasting? Which will have an effect on womens' reproductive rights far into the future?

Today's decision sucks. But it (1) doesn't change anything for the worse, and (2) is a very small thing compared to the SCOTUS appointments. I will campaign for Obama again, and enthusiastically, on the basis of those appointments alone. The decisions of that court -- for good or for bad -- will last for many, many, many years. Today's crap decision can be corrected promptly come January 2013.

In the meantime, I'll be over here continuing to hand out Plan B and Our Bodies Ourselves to anyone who seems to need them.
posted by ourobouros at 5:13 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Your discomfort is not part of this equation.

I'm sorry it sticks in your craw, but you know, tough fucking shit.


Yeah, good luck winning an election on the 'tough fucking shit' platform. You should be a speech writer.
posted by empath at 5:14 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Empath is correct; the number of people outraged over this decision is relatively small. That doesn't mean they're not right since right isn't a majority vote, but it isn't a huge number of people.

Well, among the Democratic party the amount of people who would be outraged by this decision in a primary setting would be huge. Luckily for Obama, he is not facing a primary as Democrats have already decided they are voting for him again under absolutely any circumstances.

The anti-abortion Ron Paul people? I'm upset too, but this is getting absurd.

Ron Paul is a doctor and he has delivered babies, he generally does not mold his policy based on what religion says so I cut him some slack on this since he believes abortion is wrong for his own reasons. If that is a dealbreaker, obviously you don't vote for him.

The Libertarian Party, however, has this in their platform:

1.4 Abortion

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.


...so they may be a viable choice for an Obama protest vote depending on who they ultimately nominate and the views of the voter on these issues.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:23 PM on December 8, 2011


Also, fuck you Obama. You aren't a doctor, you aren't an FDA researcher. I am sick and tired of government idiots using a veto on doctors.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:27 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a tactical partial retreat on one of many, many issues.

And I don't believe this is a winning strategy. Give this little bit to the right and Dems are still baby killers. Barack Obama has not only killed Osama Bin Laden but has also assassinated US citizens and yet he is soft on terror. Obama uses a Republican policy and suddenly it is socialist medicine that will kill grandma.

When has an action by this administration not resulted in cries of leftist extremism? At what point does a series of tactical retreats become flat out retreat?
posted by munchingzombie at 5:29 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


You aren't a doctor, you aren't an FDA researcher. I am sick and tired of government idiots using a veto on doctors.

I must have missed the part of the constitution where doctors get to make laws and presidents don't get to veto them.
posted by empath at 5:30 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I said I was sick and tired of taxes would you think that means I am suggesting they are unconstitutional?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Comment removed - time to dial it WAY back. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:34 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having Plan B behind the counter instead of next to the Tylenol or whatever is annoying when you're an adult too, because (afaik, correct me if I'm wrong here) it means you can only get it during pharmacy hours.

Worse yet, it means that (in most states), you can only get it during pharmacy hours when and where you can find a pharmacist who won't refuse to give it to you. Many states have "conscience clauses" that permit pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception if it is against their beliefs. Some states do require pharmacists to dispense Plan B or at least to see to it that the patient can get it from another pharmacist in a timely fashion, but there have been entirely too many reports of patients being denied, publicly berated, and sent from pharmacy to pharmacy in search of EC. This is bad enough, but the kicker is that EMERGENCY contraception has serious time limits: it is most effective when taken as soon as possible. That's because Plan B is not an abortion drug, but simply a package of birth control hormones that prevents pregnancy. This stuff absolutely needs to be immediately available to young women under 17, but it also needs to be immediately available immediately to those who can already obtain it without a prescription, without do-gooder pharmacists and pharmacies putting up roadblocks and moralizing.

Interestingly, states like California have a protocol to permit pharmacists to prescribe Plan B themselves to young women (and men for that matter apparently) under 17 if they have taken a one-hour continuing education course. In other words, the drug is still only available by prescription to those under 17, but the Pharmacy and Medical Boards have simply given pharmacists prescribing power for EC. I don't know how accessible this option really is though. Do communities have pharmacists who have taken the required training and are willing to dispense to under-17-year-olds?
posted by zachlipton at 5:35 PM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Barack Obama has not only killed Osama Bin Laden but has also assassinated US citizens and yet he is soft on terror. Obama uses a Republican policy and suddenly it is socialist medicine that will kill grandma.

Only to the crazies, which he knows he's not going to get. The independents thought? He needs everyone he can get, so why scare them away by giving the Republicans a freebie? Especially if his stance is that of being a caring parent, while not changing the law at all? It's like slam dunk.

Except for that that precedent setting veto of the FDA over scientific findings.

But the truth is, we've never lived our lives strictly be scientific findings, nor set policy by it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2011


What absolutely baffles me about this is that not only does the FDA say it's safe (not that they're infallible, but) and recommends it be kept OTC, but a small dose of birth control is by ANY standard safer than pregnancy in a kid, but it's also safer than an abortion.

This should be common sense. And if a pre-teen / teen can't get access without telling...whether it's rape, molestation, consensual or whatever, you can bet they're going to quibble and hope for at least a few days before they tell anyone, and by then it's too late for anything but pregnancy or abortion.
posted by thelastcamel at 5:46 PM on December 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


But the truth is, we've never lived our lives strictly be scientific findings, nor set policy by it.

See also: drug prohibition, global warming, creationism, etc..
posted by empath at 5:48 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, good luck winning an election on the 'tough fucking shit' platform.

I hereby pledge my vote to the first candidate to use the phrase "tough fucking shit" in the upcoming election.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:58 PM on December 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Ron Paul is a doctor and he has delivered babies, he generally does not mold his policy based on what religion says so I cut him some slack on this since he believes abortion is wrong for his own reasons.

Ron Paul is staunchly pro-life, and he does not believe that the federal government has the ability to legalize abortion at all. He's made some hand-waving about the states being the ones who should ban abortion, but he himself has introduced legislation at the federal level which would define human life as beginning at conception.

Many pro-lifers, if not most pro-lifers, regard abortion as basically being a form of murder. Not even the most extreme libertarian principles would stand in the way of banning yet another form of murder. The fact that the Libertarian Party officially holds no position on the abortion issue is a matter of compromise and decorum, not a tenet that your average capital-L Libertarian is absolutely guaranteed to hold.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:04 PM on December 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Having Plan B behind the counter instead of next to the Tylenol or whatever is annoying when you're an adult too, because (afaik, correct me if I'm wrong here) it means you can only get it during pharmacy hours.

It also means that the pharmacist can decide not to give it to you if you're, for instance, a dude.

I have a friend who needed to get Plan B and her partner went to three pharmacies and no pharmacist would give it to him. She eventually had to go herself, which was tricky due to aforementioned time limits and her having other things she needed to be doing. In this situation - it worked out ok, she eventually got it, though she was righteously pissed that no pharmacist would give it to her husband.

So, on the face of it - not giving Plan B to a guy because he can't get pregnant anyway seems just plain irritating. However, this becomes a huge problem for a trans (FTM) man who may be denied access to Plan B after a contraception failure.
posted by sonika at 6:08 PM on December 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


middle school students.

Also, I think it might be helpful to remind people without female parts how exactly, birth control in general works. Surprisingly, I know quite a few people in general who have no idea what the specifics are. Go Ask Alice has a great explanation, pasted here for folks who don't like to follow links.
Birth control pills prevent pregnancy through several mechanisms, mainly by stopping ovulation. If no egg is released, there is nothing to be fertilized by sperm, and the woman cannot get pregnant. Most birth control pills contain synthetic forms of two female hormones: estrogen and progestin. These synthetic hormones stabilize a woman's natural hormone levels, and prevent estrogen from peaking mid-cycle. Without the estrogen bump, the pituitary gland does not release other hormones that normally cause the ovaries to release mature eggs.

Specifically, synthetic estrogen in the pill works to:

Stop the pituitary gland from producing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in order to prevent ovulation
Support the uterine lining (endometrium) to prevent breakthrough bleeding mid-cycle

Meanwhile, synthetic progestin works to:

Stop the pituitary gland from producing LH in order to prevent egg release
Make the uterine lining inhospitable to a fertilized egg
Partially limit the sperm's ability to fertilize the egg
Thicken the cervical mucus to hinder sperm movement (although this effect may not be key to preventing pregnancy)

There are two kinds of hormonal birth control pills: (1) the combination pill which contains estrogen and progestin and (2) the progestin-only pill (known as the minipill). Combo pills are significantly more effective than progestin-only pills and have the added benefit of less breakthrough bleeding. However, some women cannot tolerate estrogen and prefer the progestin-only pill. Both types of pills are available in several different brands, each of which have slightly different blends of hormones.
From the CDC: In 2009, a total of 409,840 infants were born to 15−19 year olds, for a live birth rate of 39.1 per 1,000 women in this age group
posted by thelastcamel at 6:09 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops. That first link should have said "School provides birth control to middle school students." But I suppose that will be clear to anyone who follows it anyway.
posted by thelastcamel at 6:10 PM on December 8, 2011


Not even the most extreme libertarian principles would stand in the way of banning yet another form of murder.

Hah, you don't know as many extreme Libertarians as I do!

The fact that the Libertarian Party officially holds no position on the abortion issue is a matter of compromise and decorum, not a tenet that your average capital-L Libertarian is absolutely guaranteed to hold.

The position that the government should not make it illegal is is not much of a compromise for a pro-lifer, it's the essence of pro-choice.

I am well aware many Libertarians disagree, including Ron Paul, but take it all the way back to Rand and you hear the idea of a right to life for a fetus described as "vicious nonsense."

Harry Browne, serial nominee for the LP, is against banning abortion. There is a range of views in the party, but there are pro-life Democrats too.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:11 PM on December 8, 2011


This is a stupid decision politically. No one who is going to get up in arms about Plan B availability for minors is going to vote for Obama anyway.

That's what fascinates me about this. It was a decision to placate a segment of pro-lifers who will never vote for him, while simultaneously giving most who did vote for him yet one more reason to pursue alternatives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:13 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am honestly torn about this. I want everyone to have access but selling it to 10 year olds without a parent or doctors knowing sticks in my craw. Some people really are too inexperienced to deal with it alone I think.

This makes sense if you seriously believe that a bunch of 10-year-olds (and they do start menstruating that young these days) are going to start having sex specifically because Plan B is available. Otherwise, holy christ, yes, make it as easy as possible for those kids to not get pregnant, please, like a bunch of 13- and 14- and 15- and 16-year-olds are currently doing.

What you want is for her to not have sex at all. We all want that. But this is harm reduction. This is making it possible for her to not ruin her own life and the life of somebody who hasn't been born yet because she screwed up or because somebody fucked with her and she's afraid to or seriously can't tell anybody. This stuff only works within 72 hours. Even then you want to take it as early as possible. What percentage of barely-pubescent girls who have just had sex do you think can manage to get up the courage to tell somebody they trust to take them to a doctor for a prescription and not hurt them or punish them within that period? What if they don't even have anybody like that? How many of these girls would have to tell the worst possible people? And then how many of them just think the people they'd have to tell would ground them forever and yell at them and hate them and not let them do ____ anymore and that sounds worse to a child that young than the very distant, very remote and crazy and unreal possibility of giving birth in nine months, when they're in another damn grade or something?

If you're afraid some girl's going to take it because somebody touched her and she doesn't know that it couldn't get her pregnant, well, we know what the side effects are, there are worse OTC drugs she could be taking, the FDA DECIDED it was safe enough, the instructions in the damn box aren't written for brain surgeons.
posted by Adventurer at 6:18 PM on December 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


And it is much, much more dangerous, physically, for a girl that age to get pregnant.
posted by Adventurer at 6:21 PM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am honestly surprised minors can buy any OTC medications.

Am I taking crazy pills here?!? WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE.
posted by odinsdream at 6:25 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok that makes sense to me. The benefits to preventing unwanted pregnancy, especially in younger girls, outweights the harm that may occur if they misuse it.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:25 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do want 15 and 16 year olds to have access but I really do think we need some cut off point.

Since this medication is all about preventing pregnancy, literally the only rational cutoff is whether the purchaser is a female of child-bearing age.

Anything else is moralizing bullshit.
posted by odinsdream at 6:27 PM on December 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Back Up Your Birth Control.org- and tell the women you know where to get it / that you've got it.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:27 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]



That's what fascinates me about this. It was a decision to placate a segment of pro-lifers who will never vote for him, while simultaneously giving most who did vote for him yet one more reason to pursue alternatives.


You mean Catholics? 54% of which voted for Obama?
posted by empath at 6:32 PM on December 8, 2011


Even among Catholics, contraception has 63% support.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2011


54% of Obama's voting base is not Catholic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2011


(To be clear, that is 63% in favor of insurance coverage for contraception, but the point is they are far from a block on this)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:38 PM on December 8, 2011


(Okay, I lose:

The only service that garners less than a majority in support for being covered by
health insurance is:

Emergency contraception, described in the poll as “emergency contraception,
also known as the morning after pill” (39%).
)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:40 PM on December 8, 2011


In any case, I would have thought a cardinal rule on Metafilter was never to treat the religious as one amorphous blob moving in a single direction.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:41 PM on December 8, 2011


Anything else is moralizing bullshit.

You missed the part where Adventurer convinced me I was wrong.

I honestly don't care who has sex, I don't care who gets pregnant, I don't care who has abortions. I was concerned with children too young to know the risks misusing medication. I get that the FDA said it was safe, they also say Tylenol is safe. We have a FPP about how bad the FDA is every month or so.

Am I taking crazy pills here?!? WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE.

Yeah, I am surprised.Maybe I should have put the word "still" in there. I looked into it and seems some states are passing laws against minors buying DXM. I don't doubt there will be more laws like this.

I will admit my fears about kids unintentionally harming themselves with plan b are probably misplaced seeing as they can harm themselves with just about anything else.


All it took was someone stating the facts about why I was wrong. It is counterproductive to scold people who agree with you but have reservations about the details.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:42 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm as pro-choice as can be, but I honestly think this is a non-issue. Kids can get condoms for free, and over the counter, and they still get pregnant. I don't think making Plan B available OTC is actually going to have an incremental effect on teen pregnancies, so the positive effects of doing this are fairly small. A kid too embarrassed to get condoms, or too convinced of her own invincibility to think they're necessary, is probably not going to saunter into the drugstore and get Plan B on her own.

On the other hand, let's look at the negatives: 1) starting "OMG Obama supports abortion for your 10-year-old" hysteria; and b) really uninformed kids using Plan B in ways it wasn't intended (as primary contraception, when there's no chance they could be pregnant, etc). Seems like the risks outweigh the rewards here.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you overestimate the amount of pre-intercourse planning of teenagers. A chance to handle the issue after something spontaneous can make a big difference.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:54 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And could you forward your research on the medical risks outweighing the benefits to the FDA for us?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:56 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think making Plan B available OTC is actually going to have an incremental effect on teen pregnancies, so the positive effects of doing this are fairly small. A kid too embarrassed to get condoms, or too convinced of her own invincibility to think they're necessary, is probably not going to saunter into the drugstore and get Plan B on her own.

Any underage girl can buy and take an over-the-counter pill, provided she can afford it. Furtively, secretly, impulsively, even. Not all of them can or will make the boy or man they're about to have sex with wear a condom.
posted by Adventurer at 6:59 PM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seems like the risks outweigh the rewards here.

IF ONLY SOMEONE SMART WOULD DECIDE TO STUDY THIS IMPORTANT QUESTION!!!

OR MAYBE EVEN A GROUP OF SMART PEOPLE!?!

GUYS!?
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not talking about purely medical risks. I'm sure Plan B is safe. In fact, I once procured it for my underaged sister.

However, using Plan B as primary contraception means you're not using condoms, which means you're at increased risk of STDs. Taking Plan B when you didn't have sex means you're really, really uninformed, and I'd rather you talk to someone who can steer you straight.

I used to volunteer for a teen community health organization, and I met a lot of pregnant teens. There were edge cases where lack of contraception is why they get pregnant, but for the most part, it's because they're too uninformed to know better, or because they think they want a baby. I'm pretty sure this has been widely studied too.

Again, I am pro-choice. But I think it's pretty naive to assume that the medical risks are the only ones at play, especially in a topic as fraught as kids and sex.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:06 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


54% of Obama's voting base is not Catholic.

I said 54% of Catholics voted for Obama. That's millions of votes. There are a significant percentage of Catholics who voted for Obama, and Catholics have been a reliable voting bloc in the north east for Democrats for a very long time. They're also, as a group, squicky about abortion and contraception. This is an easy win with pro-life or wobbly pro-choice Catholics that are on the fence about Obama. And there are a lot of them.
posted by empath at 7:06 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no doubt that medically the side effects of Plan B are less risky for underage girls than pregnancy. This decision is about removing a hot-button issue from the election. Obama loses and a decision FOR allowing underage girls access to this medicine would be the first decision REVERSED made by the new HHS Secretary.

Is overruling the FDA this a winning strategy? Maybe not. But not overruling the FDA decision is a loser for sure. The facts won't matter to the "Death Panel" Republicans

My opinion is that it likely both Sebelius and Obama agree with the FDA. They just know that they cannot win on this issue any more than they can win on gun control in the current political climate.

As for taking one's vote elsewhere, that didn't work in 2000, and it likely won't work in 2012. Nader voters more than made the difference in New Hampshire and in Florida. Had those voters held their noses and voted pragmatically, instead of righteously demonstrating that Gore did not meet their standards, much of the mess in which we are now mired would have prevented. At the very least more liberal Supreme Court Justices would be in the place of Alito and Roberts, and there would be a solid liberal majority on the court.

I'm down for the evening.
posted by haiku warrior at 7:12 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I would guess that 39% in support of emergency contraception and 63% in favor of emergency contraception is probably all up in that 54% so be careful there. You can't win the Catholic vote by quoting the Pope.

However, using Plan B as primary contraception means you're not using condoms, which means you're at increased risk of STDs.

Sure, but as of now for a lot of kids the choice is closer to condom or nothing. A lot of kids are just doubling down on the risks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 PM on December 8, 2011


*63% in favor of contraception
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:13 PM on December 8, 2011


The key is education. Teach the children that no one can get pregnant in her mouth or anus and there won't be a need for fancy pills or feticide.
posted by Renoroc at 7:16 PM on December 8, 2011


However, using Plan B as primary contraception means you're not using condoms, which means you're at increased risk of STDs. Taking Plan B when you didn't have sex means you're really, really uninformed, and I'd rather you talk to someone who can steer you straight.

Well, for one thing, condoms can break. I had one break five or six years ago. The first drugstore I went to, in Los Angeles, didn't sell Plan B. The next place I had to fill out a form explaining why I needed it, which was important information for the pharmacist to have, and pay something like $50.

But more importantly, girls who couldn't or wouldn't ask the guy to wear a condom just have to get pregnant, because otherwise people who would use condoms will find out that they could buy a pill for $20 the next day instead of using a condom and then not use condoms anymore.

What are these girls who either don't feel they have the choice or literally do not have the choice to have their partner use a condom supposed to do? Isn't it a little perverse to force them to choose between pregnancy and abortion (assuming they can even get one) just to make a sex-ed point to people who do have other options?
posted by Adventurer at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


... and the notion that every underage girl who's having sex has somebody who can "steer her straight" is quite the beautiful dream.
posted by Adventurer at 7:20 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying that there aren't cases when contraception fails or is just forgotten. What I am saying is that in my experience, those are the edge cases, and girls who have it together enough to realize that's what's happening generally can figure out how to get Plan B. It's the girls who think that nothing bad will ever happen to them, or who want or are indifferent to having babies, who made up the bulk of my clients.

Teenagers are awful at assessing risk. They already think they won't get pregnant, or that it doesn't matter one way or another if they do. That's why I think OTC Plan B won't really move the needle all that much.

Do I think Plan B should be available over the counter? Yes. Do I think it's worth causing a political firestorm that possibly weakens women's reproductive rights over the long term? No.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:29 PM on December 8, 2011


Oh, and since I was accused of Sorkinging earlier, the West Wing episode which most closely resembles this one is "Take Out the Trash Day," wherein there is a governmental report showing flat-out that abstinence-only education is not only ineffective, but in fact detrimental, which is then put in a box until after mid-terms in order to strike a deal to save the Chief of Staff from hearings as to his past pill and alcohol abuse.

As for the ones which fit closer to my wild-ass idle speculation, "Ellie" has the Surgeon General going off the reservation as to drug policy, and almost being forced to resign, before the President realizes that she's right and that you don't censure a Doctor for speaking the truth about medicine, and "Abu el Banat," in which the Attorney General is almost fired (in a much less friendly scene) for bolstering his own future gubernatorial campaign in Mississippi by sicing the DEA on Euthanisia doctors in Oregon, where the practice is legal.

The More You Know™
posted by Navelgazer at 7:36 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is surprisingly simple math:

This decision is anti-science. Whether or not you believe that pre-17-year olds have sex doesn't matter. If you support science-based lawmaking, you condemn this decision. If you don't support science-based lawmaking then you have no real right to criticize those Republican candidates who pander to climate change deniers.
posted by muddgirl at 7:39 PM on December 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Obama is very protective of his daughters. Those FDA scientists should be grateful he didn't send predator drones after them.
posted by homunculus at 7:45 PM on December 8, 2011


Do I think it's worth causing a political firestorm that possibly weakens women's reproductive rights over the long term? No.

What muddgirl just said. This outcome is not a viable one if you support science-based lawmaking.
posted by odinsdream at 7:50 PM on December 8, 2011


This decision is anti-science.

The science says that Plan B is medically safe. It doesn't say that it's benign, or that it should be freely accessible to 11-year-olds, or that having a bunch of right-of-center moderates go apeshit over Obama letting their babies get birth control pills is good for the country. There's a difference between denying science and saying science isn't the only thing that matters.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm sure somewhere in the FDA's mission statement is something along the lines of "Be sure not to make low-information voters feel icky about anything."
posted by odinsdream at 7:55 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


This decision is anti-science.

Yep. The FDA has said there is minimal foreseeable harm in allowing this to be sold OTC. They have said this unanimously. Oh, and by the way, another way we are framing this badly is by allowing the 11-year-old thing to have any traction at all. This is not about 11-year-olds. This is about Women Under 17. That's the language.

I hate this, but like many people taking a softer stance in this thread, I live in the DC Metro area. Living here just makes one see the forest and not the trees in a lot of ways. So for those talking about the bad politics of this - there really aren't many. Yes, the crazy pro-lifers aren't going to vote for him anyway. That's not the point. The point is that this is one of those issues that make perfect moral sense when understood correctly, and which are much easier to spin badly than to properly explain. Especially in an election year, when the impetus is to spin it badly on purpose and stay on the "Obama ants your 11-year-old daughter to have abortions without your knowledge" bullshit because that's all they need to keep repeating, than it is for Obama to spend as much time on the message of, "whether or not you like the idea of your teenagers having sex, allowing them easy access to this without having to talk to you helps them."

Sadly, the people this would have helped can't vote, and the ones whose parents would appreciate the message of why this should be policy are also the ones who would buy it for their daughters.

I'd like to believe that this pill will be available OTC in mid-November, once it's political damage would be nullified, but I no longer have such faith in Obama. I get why this was done. It keeps perhaps millions out of the campaign coffers of his opponents, who would be worse on these issues. It keeps him from losing the message to this. I get it.

But I hate it. And I wish he and Sebelius had looked for an easier way to just let it pass now without much hubbub.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:57 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to believe that this pill will be available OTC in mid-November, once it's political damage would be nullified...

With the election cycle starting earlier and earlier, I don't think it's rational any longer to expect the "good stuff" to be put into place after an election is over. At least, not on the Democratic side.

The day after Republicans take office they get right to fucking everything up, of course.
posted by odinsdream at 8:00 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing has "zero medical risk." But I'm guessing the risk is way, way lower than it is for, say, Tylenol.

Anytime the thing being discussed is related to drugs or sex, the risks suddenly become unacceptable and it needs to be strongly regulated or outlawed altogether.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:06 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course politicians make decisions based on popularity, but it's generally a bad idea to make this obvious. Usually there's some sort of fig leaf covering the appeal for votes; some argument that it's really good for the country as a whole. This is why lower taxes for the rich are presented as "trickle-down economics" and sweetheart deals with contractors are called "job creation". But using "safety" as an excuse to ban Plan B? It's so obviously political that I can't see it winning votes. Supporters of the ban will vote for people on Obama's right, people who may genuinely oppose abortion. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a net vote loser.

Incidentally, this is yet another example of the Obama administration being very, very incompetent. Surely they knew these tests were underway. If having the right result is important enough to overrule the head of the FDA then the administration should have done something about it earlier - it should have replaced her, or stymied the tests, or done something that looks less nakedly political. Their last-minute actions have given them the worst of all possible outcomes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:07 PM on December 8, 2011


It doesn't say that.... it should be freely accessible to 11-year-olds

Isn't that exactly what the FDA said?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:14 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, of course there are risks to Plan B, but it's a hell of a lot better than the alternatives. I've taken it twice -- once when a condom broke and once when I stupidly allowed a guy to insert himself bareback, since he was having so much trouble with the condom (though I made him uninsert himself immediately). In both cases, I was freaked out and I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to be able to take a pill and make my worries go away. Note that these were both cases when I was pretty responsible -- grown up, had moved to a new country on my own, was in grad school -- and yet shit happens. And shit happens to 15 year olds too, who may not have the support and resources they need to deal with it. We should be putting up less barriers to their access to contraception, not more. In an ideal world, underage children would have supportive parents, access to good sex education, good sex counsellors and pediatricians who would guide them as they begin to explore their sexuality. Frankly, we live in a far from ideal world.

Plan B One Step is hardly a difficult pill to administer -- you just eat the small pill with some food, maybe you feel a bit nauseated. It's not as though it's possible to overdose, so I'm not sure I understand what misuse an underage girl is going to be able to put it to. As someone said above, Tylenol is a heck of a lot more dangerous, and no one seems to be up in arms about it. No, this is about women's reproductive rights and the way in which the right is slowly chipping away at them in the US. Watch out everyone.
posted by peacheater at 8:18 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The science says that Plan B is medically safe. It doesn't say that it's benign, or that it should be freely accessible to 11-year-olds,

Science doesn't make value judgments in either direction. Please explain why it's a better idea to force any 11-year-old who has just had sex to ask an adult to take her to a doctor in order to get emergency contraception within 72 hours rather than make it possible for her to secretly buy it herself.

This shouldn't matter, but keep in mind that the person she just had sex with was not necessarily a member of her peer group.

Also explain why this is true for 16-year-olds, and if not, why you would choose whichever cutoff age you would choose.
posted by Adventurer at 8:28 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not just the crazy pro-lifers who will get upset. They'll just make sure that everyone knows about it. There are plenty of people who both want to keep abortion legal and also support some form of parental notification law, and those same people are probably uncomfortable with the idea of their children having sex.

Please explain why it's a better idea to force any 11-year-old who has just had sex to ask an adult to take her to a doctor in order to get emergency contraception within 72 hours rather than make it possible for her to secretly buy it herself.

Because that 11-year-old cannot have legally consented, and someone should call the cops?
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:31 PM on December 8, 2011


Because that 11-year-old cannot have legally consented, and someone should call the cops?

This is not even wrong. It's completely besides the point.
posted by odinsdream at 8:35 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Because that 11-year-old cannot have legally consented, and someone should call the cops?

Because somebody should call the cops (unless her partner was her age), the 11-year-old should have to confess immediately (hopefully there's somebody to confess to that won't go to jail or see a family member go to jail, yikes) or get pregnant.

Good lord, that's just another reason the 11-year-old isn't going to want to tell anybody. I forgot about that.

They're going to have sex whether we condone it or not, because they've been doing it. Surely it would be better to give these girls a way to save themselves from abortions and pregnancies, rather than say "You shouldn't have had the sex you just had. Go tell your middle school counselor or somebody to take you to the doctor, I don't know. BTW we're going to arrest your boyfriend if we ever find out who he is."
posted by Adventurer at 8:40 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really, really hope all these supremely tactical, 12-dimensional chess, long game maneuvers and concessions the Obama administration has been making since pretty much Day 1 pay off at some point.

Because I swear I've lost a 2 - 3 inches in height from being constantly patted on the head and told that I just don't understand the political realities whenever the administration does something to women, minorities, the poor and various other groups in order to placate the Fox News demographic.

So, partly for my own selfish reasons, I'm hoping something is coming down the pipeline that makes it all worth it.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:43 PM on December 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is not even wrong. It's completely besides the point.

Why is that besides the point? This whole thing is about the fact that it's the combination of kids and sex that freaks people out, even if emergency contraception for said kids is completely safe. If it didn't, we wouldn't have age of consent laws.

We're not banning Plan B for adults. We're declining to sell it to kids without talking to a doctor first.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:59 PM on December 8, 2011


Because I swear I've lost a 2 - 3 inches in height from being constantly patted on the head

It does get tiring, doesn't it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 PM on December 8, 2011


I hereby pledge my vote to the first candidate to use the phrase "tough fucking shit" in the upcoming election.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome President Rick Perry.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:05 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ron Paul is a doctor and he has delivered babies, he generally does not mold his policy based on what religion says so I cut him some slack on this since he believes abortion is wrong for his own reasons. If that is a dealbreaker, obviously you don't vote for him.

How is it that the guy who supports aboetion rights gets ripped, but the moron who does not doesn't?

So we ought to vote into office an anti-abortion nutcase because another, pro-choice guy says that doctors ought to prescribe the morning after pill to girls under 17? Please explain how having a nutjob like Ron Paul as President is going to move abortion rights forward?

Seriously, this is special pleading writ huge. If someone has a reason how this attitude moves the ball forward in a real sense, please let me know. I cannot think of a single reason why Ron Paul gets to be excused for his evil, anti-libretarian position on abortion, when the President actually appoints pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court.

I cannot come up with a logical reason why a person who cared at all for abortion rights would give a "free pass" to an opponent in these circumstances.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:12 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're not banning Plan B for adults. We're declining to sell it to kids without talking to a doctor first.

I dunno, you seem to be bouncing back and forth between vague medical concerns you can't cite and political expediency. Pick one.

I cannot come up with a logical reason why a person who cared at all for abortion rights would give a "free pass" to an opponent in these circumstances.

I specifically pointed out that if pro-life views are a dealbreaker you should not vote for him. I instead pointed towards the Libertarian party as a better choice for one considering such a protest over this issue.

Personally, I do not actually vote on abortion issues as I find both sides of the argument extremely compelling. I am very, very reluctantly pro-choice for harm reduction reasons only. The issue of if individuals should be able to use tested and safe contraceptives over the counter is a far less complicated question with a much more clear answer.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:29 PM on December 8, 2011


If someone has a reason how this attitude moves the ball forward in a real sense, please let me know.

It doesn't. Again: if you think staying home or voting Ron Paul write-in or whatever protest motion you want to adopt will somehow advance progressive causes, you are deluding yourself. And, again, I can't but help wonder the extent to which privilege (something something something backpack) plays in these conversations.

The extension of the payroll tax cut is not an abstract ideological pawn on the board for me and my wife. We literally cannot afford another $1000+ in expenses next year come April. And that is just the tip of the proverbial (and admittedly glacial) iceberg. We also cannot afford a White House that would allow the domestic auto industry to whither on the vine, thereby tanking the livelihoods of basically everyone we know. This is not a purity game for us. This is real life. And yes, ideally, I am with those who think access to birth control is a super important priority. But if you want to purchase ideological purity at the expense of handing the White House to the douchebag who said he would let the Big 3 go bankrupt or who is on record saying he wants to see the OVERTURNING of ROE V. WADE, then you aren't an ally.

You're a LARPer playing at American politics.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:30 PM on December 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


* access to birth control = access to Plan B for girls aged 10-16.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:31 PM on December 8, 2011


* whither = wither, add your own pun here. Good night!
posted by joe lisboa at 9:32 PM on December 8, 2011


Shorter Obama apologists: We must deny reproductive rights so we can protect reproductive rights. (and I can get my tax cut)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:33 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


who is on record saying he wants to see the OVERTURNING of ROE V. WADE

You realize that restricting access to birth control is one stone in the road to controlling people's sex lives, along with making abortion illegal, right? I mean, people aren't needlessly concerned, here; there is a culture war on, and these are pretty high stakes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:34 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shorter Obama apologists: We must deny reproductive rights so we can protect reproductive rights. (and I can get my tax cut)

Are you really dense enough to equate "denying reproductive rights" with "not selling Plan B birth control over-the-counter to pre-teen girls"?

And "so I can get my tax cut" = "so I can pay my fucking rent and buy groceries," asshole. Which side were you on again, exactly? The 9% or something?
posted by joe lisboa at 9:36 PM on December 8, 2011


Shorter Obama apologists: We had to destroy negotiate away your rights in order to save them.
posted by overglow at 9:38 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, people aren't needlessly concerned, here; there is a culture war on, and these are pretty high stakes.

Right. Which is why we should empower (though inaction or ill-conceived action) the election of a chief executive with the means and ability to appoint Supreme Court justices interested in overturning the right to an abortion. This is pretty fucking basic, people.

The insulation here is something else.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:39 PM on December 8, 2011


Argh. Most people upwind said that they'd hold their noses and vote for the only logical option. At least that thread I was reading.

And that's what I'll do. Doesn't mean I have to approve of all Obama's decisions, and yes, quite of few of them have made me and quite a few other people feel cheated. And we're going to be vocal about that.

Only one person mentioned possibly looking at Libertarians with a new eye. One person! And that was only, I think, an off-hand jokey comment. I think most people learned an unpleasant lesson in the Bush years: that division and conquering are not compatible in our firmly entrenched two-party system. But this decision makes a lot of people feel threatened as a class.

Back in the 70s the party told the feminists to shut up, that women's issues were dividing the camp and making the fight unwinnable. When someone harangues us to shut up and take it, it can feel like things are trending that way again. And we didn't win more rights then because we shut up and served coffee.
posted by thelastcamel at 9:48 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, furiousxgeorge, I agree with you about the importance of protecting reproductive rights but I feel like it's pretty uncool to give joe lisboa somewhat hostile advice about a situation which is obviously really stressful for him.

Also, the whole topic seems pretty irrelevant to the discussion of Sebelius's decision to me.
posted by overglow at 9:49 PM on December 8, 2011


[Good night, gentleman. And the obligatory "fuck you night off"]
posted by jessamyn at 9:49 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me say it this way. Sacrificing the right course on scientific, moral and practical questions in favor of personal economic benefit is the worst feature of economic conservatism, and should be avoided at all costs.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:05 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


And that's where they have us, crabs in a barrel. We need to figure out a way to tell people they will get everything they need if it's done right. Viva la revolution. Bust those crabs on out.

Of course I can't think of anything great other than inhabiting another planet. Shame nobody involved in the melee is local. I'd love to get a chance to riff on ideas.
posted by thelastcamel at 10:07 PM on December 8, 2011


Ok. For those of you who are claiming that Obama is no different than the opposition, let me pose a question.

Why is this issue being decided now? Is Obama attacking reproductive rights? Did he have some beef with the morning-after pill? NO. It's happening now because Teva Pharmaceutical submitted an application to the FDA to lift the prescription requirement. They submitted the application in February 2011. In January, they had laid off 200 workers at a California plant, and their stock prices started a precipitous slide into a six-year low. So, ok, they're thinking: we can bring in more on Plan B. We have a pro-choice Secretary of HHS and a friendly administration -- when are our chances going to be any better? So they submitted their application. By the time it made its way through the FDA, it was well into the Republican primary season, and political calculus came into the picture. This was an issue not of Obama's choosing, and it was brought to his administration at a very problematic time. You may disagree (strongly) with the calculation that was made -- though that calculation was, let me remind you, simply to maintain the status quo. Plan B is no less available today than it was yesterday; no rights have been abridged. In a politically charged situation, Obama chose to preserve existing reproductive rights rather than extend them.

Does that sound like a weak argument to you? Do you still think Obama is just like the opposition? Here's the difference, stated very clearly and simply:

Republican candidates are AGGRESSIVELY TARGETING women's reproductive rights and working to DISMANTLE AND DESTROY them. That means things like:
- repealing Roe v. Wade
- obstructing access to reproductive health services
- defunding Planned Parenthood
- giving pharmacists the right to deny contraception to customers
- outlawing emergency contraception & RU-486

Obama's administration is EXTENDING reproductive rights where possible and PRESERVING EXISTING RIGHTS where political expediency demands it (cite). That means things like:
- requiring insurance plans to cover contraception at no additional cost
- appointing judges like Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court
- eliminating federal funding for abstinence-only education and shifting the funds to comprehensive sex ed programs
- and, worst case scenario, preserving the status quo on Plan B distribution.

Can you truly not see the difference between these two positions? I can. And I know which one I want -- unabashedly, unashamedly -- in office.
posted by ourobouros at 10:12 PM on December 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


In a politically charged situation, Obama chose to preserve existing reproductive rights rather than extend them.

Malcolm Tucker, is that you?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2011


Here's the citation I meant to link. It's a good read if you want a little more context for Obama's positions on reproductive rights. And just for comparison, in case you've forgotten, here's a similar summary of Bush's record on the same.
posted by ourobouros at 10:22 PM on December 8, 2011


It's 2011.

Child-bearing age women still need permission to control their fertility.

This is controversial.

Stop the planet. I want to get off.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:22 PM on December 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


In a politically charged situation, Obama chose to preserve existing reproductive rights rather than extend them.

I wouldn't in a million, jillion years trust Ron Paul with so much as White House stationary, but I still find this decision repugnant. The most vulnerable people when it comes to reproductive rights - teenaged girls - still can't get a break here, even from Democrats. What should be a total non-issue, where we should be agreeing that pharmacists shouldn't get to decide if a girl can buy an alternative to pregnancy or abortion, that a minor should not have to be shamed about having sex, where we should agree that science and not policy should have the final say, is instead being explained away with some convoluted horseshit.

I get that Obama is the better choice when it comes to reproductive rights, but it doesn't make me enjoy this decision any more.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:32 PM on December 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ourobouros, I think we all understand that Obama didn't decide to raise this issue. And it's not really correct to say that "Obama chose to preserve existing reproductive rights rather than extend them". Preserving rights wasn't an issue; the only question was whether he would block the public sale of Plan B against the advice of the very department set up to assure medical safety.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:33 PM on December 8, 2011


Are you really dense enough to equate "denying reproductive rights" with "not selling Plan B birth control over-the-counter to pre-teen girls"?

I would say that. That's exactly what's happening, their reproductive rights are being curtailed. Incidentally, while fertile pre-teen girls are included, 13-, 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old girls are affected too. And out of everybody in the world who can get pregnant, these are the people who have the most trouble, cortically speaking, with long-range planning and impulse control, and who are the most vulnerable to coercion, to rape, to punishment for having had sex at all, to incest. And they are also the people we all agree we most especially do not want to see pregnant. So why do we want to continue to ensure that some teenage (and worse, pre-teen) girls who have sex will continue to see no alternative but to wait and find out?

You can argue about exactly how many people are actually affected by this and how many know this option exists (which seems like a funny argument to make here on the internet; sure, accurate information about different kinds of birth control and what may and may not get you pregnant can get mixed up with rumors and lies but the fact that there is an emergency pill you can take within 72 hours of having sex is the kind of information that is bound to trickle through to somebody) but a) the people who oppose making it available are pretty damn sure there are girls who know about it and b) saying "oh, most of you probably wouldn't even know about this right, so we won't give it to you" is no way to make law.

There are real people out there who are going to get pregnant because this decision is going to make it impossible for them to prevent it, either literally or because they're not mature enough to decide, within a 72-hour window, to request punishment from their parents instead of just hoping everything will be fine. Whether you condone it or not, these underage women are not, as a group, going to stop having sex (or being forced or pressured into having sex) just because they don't have access. So it is in everybody's best interest to make sure they can get birth control as easily as possible, without imposing penalties that make them feel that maybe they should just take their chances. The fact that this affects teenage and pre-teen girls makes it more important, not less.

And then there's the principle of the thing: if their bodies are capable of pregnancy, they shouldn't have to ask their parents (who could be anybody, the worst possible people) for permission to NOT be pregnant.
posted by Adventurer at 11:12 PM on December 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


Also, if it's really a health issue (as Sebelius claims) rather than a morals issue (as I think everybody recognises) then shouldn't it be illegal to give it to 16-year olds? Because girls' parents don't understand pharmacology better than the FDA.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:16 AM on December 9, 2011


However, using Plan B as primary contraception means you're not using condoms, which means you're at increased risk of STDs. Taking Plan B when you didn't have sex means you're really, really uninformed, and I'd rather you talk to someone who can steer you straight.

I too would rather you received comprehensive sex education, but when you've already reached the point that you need emergency contraception, it's time to deal with the actual emergency situation at hand first. As others have pointed out, there are plenty of reasons why a smart, cautious woman might need Plan B on an occasional basis (broken condom, etc...), and the simple fact that a woman knows enough to ask for the drug implies that she obviously has some knowledge. I think this view sounds awfully paternalistic.

Fortunately, no one is talking about putting Plan B in vending machines here. There's no reason a pharmacist (who is a medical professional and actually went to school for this stuff) can't continue to assist patients purchasing EC by answering questions, especially if he/she can avoid moralizing. The drug is certainly packaged with a medication guide and other instructional materials, and maybe that's a great place for health experts to provide more education on safer sex practices. Maybe every package of Plan B should include an 800 number staffed round-the-clock with experts trying to make up for the unbelievable lack of sexual education in this country. I don't know, but there's no reason we can't dispense the EC that young women need immediately and then provide the resources to ensure they have the knowledge they need.
posted by zachlipton at 12:40 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Child-bearing age women still need permission to control their fertility.


They also need permission to drink beer.

And full grown adults need permission to take medicine to control their depression.
posted by empath at 4:07 AM on December 9, 2011


And full grown adults need permission to take medicine to control their depression.

As far as I know, the FDA hasn't declared that any anti-depressants are safe enough to be dispensed without a prescription. Which they did with Plan B. Except that everyone's so panicked about a boogeyman 10-year-old who's having sex that well, shit, just throw science out the window and too goddamn bad for all the actual, documented women who will continue to have barriers to access.
posted by rtha at 5:12 AM on December 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


What bugs me, and why I'm furious and why I'm not accepting all the condesending explanations that this is just necessary for the greater good, is that I've been around long enough to see that there is never a good time for issues like this.

Yes, this is, perhaps, a bad time for Obama's political future for the FDA to approve Plan B for minors.

But so what? There will **NEVER** be a good time. Right now this sort of paternalistic BS is excused with dire threats about the 2012 elections. After those elections we'll have to be careful because of the 2014 mid-terms, do we want to screw up keeping/retaking Congress just for something silly and pointless like women's freedom? And then the 2016 elections will be coming up, and ZOMG of course we can't do anything about silly little inconsequential issues like women being people then!

I saw this back in during the Bush years when we were told, on every issue of importance, that the Democrats had to keep their powder dry for the **really** important fights.

All the talk about timing is just a way to say "this will never happen, shut up and take it, and don't bother us."

As Dr. King said in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, the greatest threat to rights comes not from the people directly opposed, but from the people ostensibly on the side of freedom but who continually say "not now".

If not now, then when?

You say that now is not a politically expedient time, but tell me, when will it not be a politically inexpedient time?

Not only that, but there's the Overton Window to consider. Just now, Obama allowed the Right a major victory in shifting the window away from contraceptive rights, and women having control over themselves, and towards the idea of contraception being a limited privilege dolled out only to "deserving" women, and to the idea of women being fluffheads who can't be trusted to manage their own bodies.

I agree that the Supreme Court is of extreme importance.

I do not agree that in pursuit of keeping Obama in office for possible future Supreme Court nominations it is either good or acceptable to abandon all principal.

More to the point, I question whether this issue would have been of any importance in the 2012 elections.

The Republican party will portray Obama as a secret Muslim, anti-family, pro-faggot, baby killing, pro-terrorist monster **NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES**. There is literally nothing Obama can do to stop, or even blunt, those attacks. They are inevitable. The decision to abandon women here will not lessen the attacks on Obama as a baby killing monster.

There are, in voting, three groups:

1) People who will not vote for Obama. This decision is in full, 100%, agreement with their position, and will please them, but it not only will not win their votes, it won't even lessen their inevitable and vicious attacks.

2) The mushy/idiot middle who doesn't really know anything and doesn't have any real positions and might be persuaded to vote either way. They will vote mostly based on the economy, history shows that they tend to punish incumbent presidents for bad economies and that's the single biggest predictor of their vote. This issue will be gone and forgotten to them by election time.

3) People who will likely vote Obama. Sticking to precedent and simply going with the FDA ruling will not drive them from Obama, even if they disagree with the FDA they won't vote for the Republican. But the pathetic and cowardly abandonment of principal and abject surrender to the crazy right will piss off some of them.

So it's stupid. It's the same pathetic, losing, political triangulation BS we saw fail over and over and over. It moves the national dialog to the right, it tells women that the Democrats think they're not worth fighting for, and it makes the Democrats (as always) look weak and pathetic.

And no, I'm not saying we should be voting for Ron Paul or any other idiot BS. I'm saying this is a terrible, weak, surrendering, position same as most everything else Obama and the Democrats have done for my entire life. And I'm sick of it, and I want it to end.

I don't think I'm evil, or childish, or stupid, for wanting the people who keep demanding my vote to actually stand up and stop being pathetic wimpy cowards.
posted by sotonohito at 7:55 AM on December 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


But so what? There will **NEVER** be a good time. Right now this sort of paternalistic BS is excused with dire threats about the 2012 elections.

When minors are allowed to vote, then I guess this will change.
posted by empath at 8:02 AM on December 9, 2011


sotonohito: "2) The mushy/idiot middle who doesn't really know anything and doesn't have any real positions and might be persuaded to vote either way. They will vote mostly based on the economy, history shows that they tend to punish incumbent presidents for bad economies and that's the single biggest predictor of their vote. This issue will be gone and forgotten to them by election time.

It's the mushy middle you have to watch out for.

The strategy that's being run here is simple: tear him down in every way possible. Maintain a consistent message: Obama is not good for the country. He has taken us in the wrong direction. He's not trustworthy. He isn't like us. He's soft on the things he should be hard on. Clueless on the things he should be on top of. He's made us less safe. And his incompetence is destroying what makes the country great.

This is the same message political challengers run in every election cycle against incumbents.

And our President is playing into it.

The biggest predictor of the vote the overall disgruntlement of the population, which yes, is typically led by the economy. But if the economy recovers next year, the GOP is still going to need to continue increasing public dissatisfaction with the President's policies.

The President won in 2008 by approximately 7% of the vote. Introduce a third party candidate who appeals to Democratic voters, such as Ron Paul or Ralph Nader, and you suck away a good 2-3% of the vote, because despite the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, the voting public is still stupid enough to vote on principle rather than logically. Then if the GOP can just keep enough people home on election day and build enough public dissatisfaction, they could conceivably take the White House in 2012. I'm sure that's what they're counting on.

Politics is cyclical.
posted by zarq at 8:27 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think I'm evil, or childish, or stupid, for wanting the people who keep demanding my vote to actually stand up and stop being pathetic wimpy cowards.

no, the childish part is the impatience and apparent inability to view this decision with any sense of proportion in the context of a political universe in which there's a lot more at stake and in a system in which progress is never a straight line. i'm way liberal and way idealistic, but the inability to view this stuff in terms of reality is, to me, as senseless and as nefarious as religion.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:38 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


but the inability to view this stuff in terms of reality is

Is it possible that your view of the situation is, not more enlightened, but rather just different?

In my view, no amount of pandering on access to reproductive services will win Obama the election, and in fact only futher hurts his credibility. In your view, I suppose that some amount of pandering on reproductive services will win Obama the election. What amount, exactly, is going to be necessary? Where do you draw the line at sacficing women's rights in the name of 'progress?'
posted by muddgirl at 8:50 AM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Where do you draw the line at sacficing women's rights in the name of 'progress?'

somewhere in the neighborhood of sacrificing progress in the name of these silly histrionics.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:00 AM on December 9, 2011


@fallacy of the beard And yet, we don't make progress by surrendering in every fight, no do we?

We don't make progress by making unprecedented decisions to overrule FDA scientists for cheap, and ineffective, political pandering, do we?

Nor do we make progress by helping the Republicans shift the Overton Window further their direction, do we?

In fact, we know from history that when given the choice between a real Republican and a "Democrat" who acts like a Republican the voters will choose the real thing.

So please explain, exactly, how it happens that taking literally unprecedented action in order to advance an agenda diametrically opposed to Democratic ideals, will actually make progressive ideals advance? Because I'm not seeing it.

This won't make Republicans vote for Obama. Nor were any Democrats going to be defecting from Obama if he didn't interfere in FDA business. Nor is this going to ward off any Republican nastiness.

It seems that the only actual outcome of this bit of insanity and stupidity was to piss off Democrats.
posted by sotonohito at 9:01 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


muddgirl: " In my view, no amount of pandering on access to reproductive services will win Obama the election, and in fact only futher hurts his credibility."

Yes, but to what consequence?

When Obama Democrats turned on Hillary Supporters during the last Presidential election, the oft-repeated line was, "They may be pissed, but they won't leave the party over Obama's nomination." Which was true. It seems unlikely that women will vote for an anti-choice GOP candidate if Obama is also on the ticket, even if Obama has not supported them on important issues. Because he's the lesser of two evils.

Where do you draw the line at sacficing women's rights in the name of 'progress?'

The question is, when will women draw that line, and what will happen when they do?
posted by zarq at 9:03 AM on December 9, 2011


There's a lot of assumptions in this thread that 'women' are in favor of making Plan B available for minors, but not a whole lot of actual polls being posted here supporting that.
posted by empath at 9:09 AM on December 9, 2011


fallacy of the beard: " somewhere in the neighborhood of sacrificing progress in the name of these silly histrionics."

Access to birth control and the right to have control over their own bodies without government regulation or someone else's religious considerations are issues that matter a great deal to many women. Dismissing those concerns as "silly histrionics" is sexist and unhelpful.
posted by zarq at 9:10 AM on December 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


@empath Considering Obama's latest stab in the back just happened yesterday, I don't think it's all that surprising that there aren't any polls out yet.

But I do think that, in general, advocates of women's rights (which isn't exactly the same as "women") are pretty tired of seeing women's issues always being discarded in the name of expediency.
posted by sotonohito at 9:11 AM on December 9, 2011


Histrionics? PRICELESS! I wish I could give fallacy of the beard some kind of award. Can't actually disagree with what I say? Then imply that I am saying it in a manipulatively over-emotional manner!

The question is, when will women draw that line, and what will happen when they do?

I think it's unfair to ask "women" alone to draw the line and 'fix' the Democratic party. As a feminist, I recognize that many women disagree with me about the necessity of treating Plan B like any other drug; however, I DO expect progressive men to agree. So my question is not "when will women draw the line," but rather "When will progressives?"
posted by muddgirl at 9:12 AM on December 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


(I'm trying to say that 'women' are not a monolith - we do not and cannot act in unison or swear allegiance to a particular goal, and like any other demographic, we often vote against our own self-interest. Whether or not women unanimously agree that Plan B should be treated like any other drug is another red herring.)
posted by muddgirl at 9:18 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"When will progressives?"

Why should 'progressives' agree about everything? What if I consider myself progressive because I'm a strong believer in environmental regulation, income redistribution, eliminating the death penalty, banning torture, ending the war in iraq, but I'm also a pro-life catholic? Do I just have to turn in my progressive card because I disagree with you on one issue?

The Democratic party is a big tent, and not everyone should be expected to agree on everything. I simply don't think it's the case that the majority of Democrats even would disagree with this decision, let alone the general public.
posted by empath at 9:19 AM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do I just have to turn in my progressive card because I disagree with you on one issue?

What does being pro-life and being Catholic have to do with access to Plan B? The FDA has never mandated that Plan B is mandatory for any woman who has unprotected sex, unless I've missed something, so it is not challenging someone's religious right to forego contraceptives.

I don't think you can call yourself a progressive if you think that Plan B (which is not an abortifactant) should be treated differently than any other drug. Social justice is a pillar of the progressive movement, and social justice includes gender equality.
posted by muddgirl at 9:24 AM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


sacrificing women's rights is histrionics when (1) no policy changed with this decision, and (2) the controversy in this issue is not over reproductive rights for women, but the age at which a singular form (amongst several forms) of birth control is made available directly. the political reality is that a different decision here would have been a rallying and fundraising point, not to mention a distraction amidst a range of pressing issues in the upcoming election. this represents, at most, a delay in the availability of this single form of birth control to all ages, and the alternative might have been a factor in electing an administration that would, for real, have no problem actually sacrificing women's rights--thus delaying even further that inevitability. wanting to prevent that is not a sexist view.

but also, i view it from the perspective of a gay man who has heard years of complaint about how obama doesn't care about gay rights because he won't fix everything right this minute, and yet the progress, including by action of this administration, has been unprecedented over the course of his term so far.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:28 AM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


What does being pro-life and being Catholic have to do with access to Plan B?

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm pro-choice and atheist and disagree with this decision as a matter of policy. I do, however, have a large Catholic family that loves to argue politics, so we talk about this kind of thing a lot.

The Catholic Church is against contraception entirely. Now, most American Catholics don't accept that, but they do have misgivings about abortion and contraception, and are especially concerned with having control over their kids sex lives, and providing it birth control to minors over the counter is a bridge too far for a lot of them.

There are lots of Catholics out there who have voted Democratic since the Kennedy administration, and a lot of the ones that don't vote Democratic are single issue abortion voters. A decision like this is going to be something that can steal some of those single-issue voters who are on the fence back from the Republicans, particularly in swing states like PA with a large Catholic population. And the voters that are going to be upset about this are certainly not going to vote for a candidate that has promised to overturn Roe v Wade.

I'd love to see polling on this issue, though. Because I'm sure the White House has. They aren't stupid.
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on December 9, 2011


muddgirl: " I think it's unfair to ask "women" alone to draw the line and 'fix' the Democratic party.

That's not what I'm saying. However, it seems apparent that women and women's groups are going to need to be the motivating force for changing the party's priorities on issues that affect them directly. They're the ones with the money, members and political influence who are passionate about these issues.

As a feminist, I recognize that many women disagree with me about the necessity of treating Plan B like any other drug; however, I DO expect progressive men to agree.

Why the double standard? Why should progressive men be held to a different standard than women?

Also, it's worth noting that someone who self-identifies as a Progressive could conceivably be in favor of something like Universal Health Care but not necessarily free access to birth control or the morning after pill. As empath says, it's a big tent.

So my question is not "when will women draw the line," but rather "When will progressives?""

When you want to enact change, you turn to the people who care the most and have the most to lose, and ask them to lead. Then it becomes possible to convince everyone else why they should give a damn.
posted by zarq at 9:34 AM on December 9, 2011


who is on record saying he wants to see the OVERTURNING of ROE V. WADE

You realize that restricting access to birth control is one stone in the road to controlling people's sex lives, along with making abortion illegal, right? I mean, people aren't needlessly concerned, here; there is a culture war on, and these are pretty high stakes.


Ron Paul wants to make abortion illegal, full stop. Obama does not, full stop.

That's some pretty bendy logic to somehow think that a better choice would be Ron Paul if reproductive rights and abortion are your concerns.

I can understand supporting some Green Party candidate if you think Obama has gone too far. But Ron Paul getting a pass? Sometimes its about the person and not about the principle, I guess.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


no policy changed with this decision

Well, the 'policy' that changes is that Plan B will from now on be treated differently than any other non-scheduled drug. Instead of updating the restrictions on the drug as evidence shows that it is safe, we will keep it restricted.

Drugs move from prescription to non-prescription, or from behind the counter to over-the-counter all the time. It is incorrect to assume that the Plan B move would have signalled a new precendent.

The Catholic Church is against contraception entirely.

...but I'm not Catholic, so why should your belief that contraception is wrong affect me? I recognize that there are many religious people who believe that their religious precepts should become secular law, but I submit that you cannot define yourself as a progressive if you believe so.

Why the double standard? Why should progressive men be held to a different standard than women?

I don't think they should. I believe that progressive women should agree as well. I never said otherwise. I was clearly referring to "all women" vs "progressive men." Not all women are progressive and I don't expect them to be.

When you want to enact change, you turn to the people who care the most and have the most to lose, and ask them to lead. Then it becomes possible to convince everyone else why they should give a damn.

Do you believe that progressive women are not doing enough to lead on this issue? What more should we do?
posted by muddgirl at 9:40 AM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


@empath The numbers I've seen show that in the USA around 98% of Catholic women either are currently or have at one point used birth control.

So, really, among female Catholics, actually using birth control is entirely non-controversial. At least when it comes to them using it for themselves.

I've no doubt that many are quite hypocritical on the topic and might even claim, in public, to be anti-contraception. But that's just another example of the typical American behavior of *acting* liberal, but claiming to be conservative.

@Ironmouth Agree completely. But why are we talking about Ron Paul? As you said, he's a crazy, frothing at the mouth conservative lunatic who shouldn't be in any position of power whatsoever.
posted by sotonohito at 9:45 AM on December 9, 2011


...but I'm not Catholic, so why should your belief that contraception is wrong affect me? I recognize that there are many religious people who believe that their religious precepts should become secular law, but I submit that you cannot define yourself as a progressive if you believe so.

Then you're wrong. And a lot of Catholics vote to the leeft on a lot of progressive issues for religious reasons. MLK justified the civil rights movement on the basis of religion. There is nothing about progressive politics that requires one to be a secular humanist. Indeed, if there were, it would be a very tiny movement in the US.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on December 9, 2011


This is for emergency contraceptives... like RU-486.

outlawing emergency contraception & RU-486


Every time these two medications are conflated, it gives another gram of weight to the anti-choice whackos' rhetoric. RU-486 and Plan B are not in the same category; they are not the same kind of medication, they do not have the same effect.

RU-486 is an abortifacient. It terminates an existing pregnancy. It is two drugs: mifepristone, which is also used in chemotherapy and which stops cell division and therefore embryonic development, and misoprostol, which causes the woman's body to expel the embryo. It will not prevent pregnancy.

Plan B is levonorgestrel, a synthetic progesterone. It's a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone. It works by telling your body you've already ovulated, thus preventing the actual ovulation from occurring. It will not end a pregnancy that has already occurred; in fact, the same drug is given to women with a history of early miscarriage in order to help KEEP them pregnant. There is some hand-wringing about whether it would cause the endometrium to shed after ovulation but before implantation, but to my knowledge, this effect has been only postulated and has never been demonstrated. Nevertheless, this is the slender thread that people are clinging to in order to claim that it's an abortion pill and keep it out of the hands of women whenever possible, despite the fact that ibuprofen and even caffeine have a much more rigorously demonstrated miscarriage risk.

Please, please do not equate the two. It's like grouping Vitamin A together with Haldol or something.
posted by KathrynT at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


I really think this is unconscionable policy.

We're making it harder for the very people who already have it hard. When I was 17 years old, I had lots of theoretical knowledge about sex but very little practical knowledge. I was also living in India. My boyfriend at the time and I were fumbling about awkwardly in bed, and though we didn't actually have penetrative sex, I was paranoid about the ability of those miniscule sperm to somehow enter my reproductive tract and make me pregnant. After several weeks of worrying about it, I went to my parents and told them that I was scared I might be pregnant. To their credit they reacted admirably, my father bought me two pregnancy tests, my mother helped me administer them, while my dad paced about nervously downstairs. Obviously it was negative. Yet i can tell you that telling my parents about my sexual activity was one of the hardest things I've done. And I have some of the most progressive, liberal parents around -- who gave me wonderful books about sex with full details about sex positions, details of contraception when I was 13, where academic books about menstruation were lying about the house and we actually talked about sex and the politics of sex around the dinner table. If it was that hard for me, I cannot imagine that it's any easier for a random 15 year old. In India btw, I don't know what I would have done if I had been pregnant and had not had my parents' support. Is this really the situation you want in the US?
posted by peacheater at 9:51 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're making it harder for the very people who already have it hard.

How can this possibly be the case if absolutely nothing in the law has changed?
posted by empath at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2011


And a lot of Catholics vote to the leeft on a lot of progressive issues for religious reasons.

Whether or not they have a different justification than I do for their support of social justice is beside the point. I think you are reading past what I am saying. I recognize that many progressives are religious. And I again reiterate that if one wants to apply their religious dogma to those who do not share it, one does not fully support social justice. Religious equality is as important as racial equality.
posted by muddgirl at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2011


muddgirl: I recognize that there are many religious people who believe that their religious precepts should become secular law, but I submit that you cannot define yourself as a progressive if you believe so.
empath: Then you're wrong. And a lot of Catholics vote to the leeft on a lot of progressive issues for religious reasons. MLK justified the civil rights movement on the basis of religion. There is nothing about progressive politics that requires one to be a secular humanist. Indeed, if there were, it would be a very tiny movement in the US.

Where has muddgirl said that in order to have progressive politics one needs to be a secular humanist? People are free to justify their politics any way they like, obviously. But I agree with muddgirl that if you think your religious beliefs give you the right to impose those beliefs on others, you're not a progressive. That is a very different thing.
posted by peacheater at 9:54 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of assumptions in this thread that 'women' are in favor of making Plan B available for minors, but not a whole lot of actual polls being posted here supporting that.

Oh, we're doing polls now? By all means, post the polls that show Obama had to do this to win the election.,
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:56 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I again reiterate that if one wants to apply their religious dogma to those who do not share it, one does not fully support social justice.

So when a Catholic votes to abolish the death penalty for religious reasons, is that attempting to apply their religious dogma to someone who doesn't share it? If they vote for an increase to welfare and food stamps for religious reasons, is that attempting to impose their religious dogma? If they vote to ban torture, is that a vote to impose their religious dogma? People have a right to vote their conscience. Even when you disagree with them or their motivations for doing so.

If you want to challenge it on constitutional grounds because it conflicts with the constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy, that's fine -- and you might even win it, but you can't challenge it based on motivation. That's absurd.
posted by empath at 9:56 AM on December 9, 2011


we have to keep in mind that the republican line, had this decision been different (and i hope they spent a chunk of resources anticipating a different decision), would be that obama is willing to sacrifice the health of teenage girls to pander to feminists. politically, it does not matter that it is not true; it matters that it would have worked.

it can be easy to forget if you don't travel far enough way from metafilter, but americans are dumb, and the media makes a pretty penny making them dumber. if we're lucky, we have the privilege of not catering to that stupidity in our own lives; but obama's soaking in it, and he has to work with that.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:57 AM on December 9, 2011


And I agree. This is not a progressive decision. But you can still be overwhelmingly a progressive voter and an ally to the left and still support this.
posted by empath at 9:59 AM on December 9, 2011


Republicans will already claim that Obama wants to eat the tissue of aborted fetuses. This decision changes nothing. Can Obama effectively govern if his #1 concern is what Republicans will claim in order to win the next election?
posted by muddgirl at 10:00 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


it can be easy to forget if you don't travel far enough way from metafilter, but americans are dumb

Oh, I guess we shouldn't be giving them OTC medication anyway.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2011


So when a Catholic votes to abolish the death penalty for religious reasons, is that attempting to apply their religious dogma to someone who doesn't share it?

Abolishing the death penalty does not restrict anyone's rights - there is no right to murder. Who are they forcing their religious dogma on?
posted by muddgirl at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2011


Emergency birth control isn't just "another form of birth control." if you've just had unsafe sex, either because you were immature and stupid or there was an accident or you didn't have a choice, it is the only form of birth control. Keeping it from people who will get pregnant without it even though it won't harm them is a continuing violation of their reproductive rights. Overruling an FDA decision to move forward and grant them that right is deliberately moving backwards again.

Granted, I may be a little hysterical or histrionic or whatever about this issue on account of the fact that if that condom had broken when I was 16 and living in Oklahoma, I would have probably ended up having to find some way to get myself an abortion. I may be pro-choice, but I have always preferred not to have to be flooded with insane hormones and then have to brave a phalanx of protesters in order to have a medical procedure costing hundreds of dollars that is going to fuck with my mind a little. And I'm not sure my parents would have wanted me to do it either.

Either people who are in danger of getting pregnant have the right to not get pregnant or they don't. Keeping not getting pregnant a privilege for people under 17 is backwards, counterproductive, life-destroying, right-violating, bad forcthe country, and will not register as a drop in the Fox News bucket in 11 months' time. It's not a mind-changer. It's not the economy. And it's not going to be the last time the administration tries to bargain away women's rights and doesn't get anything for it, either. Meanwhile more people nobody wants are going to continue to be born for no good reason.
posted by Adventurer at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


muddgirl: " I don't think they should. I believe that progressive women should agree as well. I never said otherwise. I was clearly referring to "all women" vs "progressive men." Not all women are progressive and I don't expect them to be.

Okay. Your sentence was ambiguous to me, not clear. Also, as I said, the progressive ideology is not uniform.

Do you believe that progressive women are not doing enough to lead on this issue? What more should we do?"

First of all, I don't think this is a progressive issue but a feminist one. I think framing it as a progressive issue is problematic for many of the reasons many people are stating above -- progressives are not all cut from the same cloth, and do not all support the same political agendas. The people who should be fighting for it are feminists.

What I would like in the short term seems to be happening after the fact. Women's rights groups are now speaking out. So the President and Secretary Sebelius will hear from them after the decision has been made, rather than before.

Note the following:
“The pro-life movement welcomes Sebelius’ decision, and hopes that HHS will revisit the question of whether Plan B should be available over the counter to anyone,” wrote the Pro-Life Action League in a post on their website.

The pro-life lobby would love to ban Plan B.

Access to emergency contraception need to be folded into pro-choice rhetoric and not kept apart from it. The media is doing a very nice job of avoiding the word abortion in their coverage. But that's ultimately what this issue is about and everyone knows it. Denying or limiting access to emergency contraception increases a woman's potential risk of pregnancy. It increases the possibility that a woman might want or need to have an abortion. It decreases the control they have over their own bodies. Access to birth control should be a civil right, not something that is dictated by the government, or legislated by a particular religious group.

In the long term, we need better education about what emergency contraception is and isn't, so idiocy like this doesn't continue to happen. We need to promote and elect candidates to higher office who aren't going to give lip service to womens' rights issues. Or throw women under the bus out of some sort of non-existent sense of political expediency.
posted by zarq at 10:41 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Adventurer: " Either people who are in danger of getting pregnant have the right to not get pregnant or they don't. Keeping not getting pregnant a privilege for people under 17 is backwards, counterproductive, life-destroying, right-violating, bad forcthe country, and will not register as a drop in the Fox News bucket in 11 months' time. It's not a mind-changer. It's not the economy. And it's not going to be the last time the administration tries to bargain away women's rights and doesn't get anything for it, either. Meanwhile more people nobody wants are going to continue to be born for no good reason."

Well said.
posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on December 9, 2011


The people who should be fighting for it are feminists.

I'm going to take a little issue with this and add: and people who believe that solid scientific evidence should not be ignored or brushed off without a damn good reason. Are there really good health policy reasons why access to Plan B should be restricted by age? Then let's talk about that. If keeping Plan B off the shelves next to the Tylenol and the 40-proof cough syrups is because ick, we don't want to think about kids having sex - guess what, bullshit.

There are times when the science on Thing A says that Thing A is okay, but the complexities of implementing Thing A (cost, infrastructure changes, etc.) mean that implementing it will have to go slowly or be more piecemeal. Fine. But no one here, or from Sibelius' or Obama's offices, have offered such an analysis. (Obviously, I am not counting "But it will make the right wing mad!" as a good reason.)
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are there really good health policy reasons why access to Plan B should be restricted by age?

Health policy reasons aren't the only reason you restrict minors from doing things.
posted by empath at 10:54 AM on December 9, 2011


rtha: "and add: and people who believe that solid scientific evidence should not be ignored or brushed off without a damn good reason."

Completely agree.
posted by zarq at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2011


Access to emergency contraception need to be folded into pro-choice rhetoric and not kept apart from it.

On the contrary, in a sane world, access to emergency contraception should be folded into anti-abortion rhetoric. Ok, so you're opposed to abortion, wish it were banned, protest at clinics, the whole nine yards. What if there were a simple pill that women who might wind up getting an abortion could take instead that would keep them from getting pregnant in the first place? And it could be safe, widely available, and relatively low cost? What if it was even safe to take if you were already pregnant and couldn't cause a dreaded abortion? Wouldn't that be awesome, preventing abortions because some women would simply not get pregnant? You mean this already exists? Wow.

Of course, it's still not good enough for them.
posted by zachlipton at 11:02 AM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


zachlipton: "On the contrary, in a sane world, access to emergency contraception should be folded into anti-abortion rhetoric."

In a sane world, perhaps. But this runs counter to the pro-life party line: pregnancy is good no matter the circumstances, preventing pregnancy in any way is an evil which should not be tolerated, every sperm is sacred, and abortion is murder.
posted by zarq at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2011


Health policy reasons aren't the only reason you restrict minors from doing things.

In this case, what are those reasons?
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


empath: " Health policy reasons aren't the only reason you restrict minors from doing things."

For what other reasons should minors be barred from Plan B?
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the contrary, in a sane world, access to emergency contraception should be folded into anti-abortion rhetoric.

Exactly. Taking that sort of common ground position used to be something Obama took a lead on in his rhetoric. It's going to be a bit tougher for him to use this sort of line going forward.

Slate: "Our goal is to reduce the need for abortions. ... If people have better access to contraception, that's a way of addressing the issue at its root, rather than do a tally of abortions."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2011


@Ironmouth Agree completely. But why are we talking about Ron Paul? As you said, he's a crazy, frothing at the mouth conservative lunatic who shouldn't be in any position of power whatsoever.

It was mentioned upthread that he should get a "pass" for his anti-abortion stance, but that Obama shouldn't get anything of the sort.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:16 AM on December 9, 2011


It was mentioned upthread that he should get a "pass"

Ron Paul is a doctor and he has delivered babies, he generally does not mold his policy based on what religion says so I cut him some slack on this since he believes abortion is wrong for his own reasons. If that is a dealbreaker, obviously you don't vote for him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2011


@empath I think one other important part is the fact that this decision was the very first time any Secretary for Health and Human Services has ever directly overridden the FDA on food and drug decisions. Ever.

Which means Obama has now set a precident and given the highly valued stamp of bipartisanship to the practice. Which means the next Republican president, and there will be one someday, can order his Secretary for Health and Human Services to override FDA rules on just about anything and point to Obama as his justification. Any Democrats who try to object will be shut up with the fact that Obama did it first.

So, as with so many things, Obama seems hellbent on not merely pissing off liberals in the short term, but establishing precedents that will allow for vastly worse things in the long term. Like his decision to take talk of cutting Social Security out of the category of "shit we don't do" and put into the category of "totally cool to talk about". And just as with the Social Security decision, he made the decision to completely uncouple science from FDA decisions entirely on his own and with no prodding from the Republicans.

@Ironmouth Pfft, Ron Paul shouldn't get a pass for anything.

@furiousxgeorge Um. No. I agree with a lot of what you say, but that falls into the "not even wrong" category of being wrong.

He deserves no slack at all. If anything he deserves less slack because he's (so he claims) an OB/GYN. But, for a claimed OB/GYN "Doctor" Paul sure has some weird holes in his education, like the time he claimed that there is never, ever, under any circumstances, such a thing as a medically necessary abortion. Which means "Doctor" Paul apparently doesn't even know what an ectopic pregnancy is.

So no. No pass. No Paul, not now, not ever. Progressives should not be giving "Doctor" Paul any support at all.
posted by sotonohito at 11:25 AM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


And, really, being anti-choice should be a dealbreaker for anyone who calls themselves progressive or liberal.

Women's rights are human rights. You can't pick and choose. You can't say "well, yes, I support GLBT rights, but women are sub-human and shouldn't be allowed to control their fertility". Or, rather, you can but it automatically disqualifies you from being really liberal or progressive.

Big tent is one thing. But there have to be lines drawn or the party is meaningless.
posted by sotonohito at 11:28 AM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Again, Ironmouth invented the word pass. My comment was suggesting someone who wanted to protest with a vote should instead vote for the Libertarian Party candidate since they have a pro-choice platform.

I give him slack on a personal level because it seems a possibility that anyone who works closely on these issues might develop empathy, right or wrong, with a fetus. I give less slack to those who are simply ignorant bible thumpers.

The pro-life women I know, none of them thumpers, claimed they felt such empathy for their children during their own pregnancy. That's subjective, anecdotal, but on a personal level I wouldn't think of them the same way I think of Ruch Limbaugh's pro-life views. So I cut them slack.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:34 AM on December 9, 2011


Also, as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the *only* reasons that Sebelius should be saying nay to the FDA decision are health policy reasons. That's her fucking job, to stand up for and promote good, sensible health policy. Which this decision is entirely not.
posted by rtha at 11:34 AM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Women's rights are human rights. You can't pick and choose. You can't say "well, yes, I support GLBT rights, but women are sub-human and shouldn't be allowed to control their fertility".

Children have fewer rights than other adults. That doesn't mean anyone considers them subhuman.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on December 9, 2011


The problem with Plan B is that conservative demagogues intentionally conflate it and the "abortion pill" mifipristone. They do this so often that this confusion even showed up in this thread.

It doesn't matter that they're completely different drugs. The ads would still say "Obama approved the over-the-counter abortion pill," and Glenn Beck would recite it a hundred times a day on his show. The news would have a two-minute debate between a doctor who thinks Plan B constitutes an abortion, and one who doesn't -- and that's all most Americans would know about the issue. Maybe Obama allowed 10-year-olds to buy an abortion in a bottle at the drug store. Maybe Obama was born in Kenya. Conservatives don't have to convince anyone, they just have to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

So buy Plan B for your daughters, and maybe get them a couple of extra packs for their friends. Educate them on how to use it. But don't expect the law to change any time soon.
posted by miyabo at 11:45 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Children have fewer rights than other adults. That doesn't mean anyone considers them subhuman.

You're arguing against the rights of minors to not be pregnant. I think this is a right children have.
posted by Adventurer at 12:10 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're arguing against the rights of minors to not be pregnant. I think this is a right children have.

They still have that right. They can

A) Not have sex
B) Use protection during sex
C) Talk to a doctor after having unprotected sex to get a Plan B prescription.
D) Get an Abortion

Absolutely nothing has changed from what the policy was last week, and C wasn't even an option until fairly recently.
posted by empath at 12:19 PM on December 9, 2011


or E) Get a birth control prescription before having sex.
posted by empath at 12:19 PM on December 9, 2011


You keep missing the part about this being the first time the Secretary of Health and Human Services has overturned a FDA decision. That's not "nothing."

And it wasn't done for even weak health policy reasons. (I'm not even sure there are weak, let alone strong, health policy reasons for restricting access to 16-year-olds but not 18-year-olds. For instance. Because I'd really like to get away from the mythical 10-year-old.)
posted by rtha at 12:27 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


@empath wrote "Absolutely nothing has changed from what the policy was last week"

Well, yeah, that's kind of what we're objecting to. I don't understand why you keep saying that as if somehow it's a valid argument against our complaints. We were expecting the scientific and medically justified decision of the FDA to change the status quo in a way that would expand human rights for women.

And, as rtha observes, something has changed: now the Secretary of Health and Human Services has, for the first time ever, overturned an FDA decision. That's a pretty big something.

There's another thing that has changed since last week. Last week Obama hadn't declared that he agreed with the flipping American Family Association in their position that women were sub-human vermin who didn't deserve rights. This week he did.
posted by sotonohito at 12:46 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath: " C) Talk to a doctor after having unprotected sex to get a Plan B prescription."

empath: "or E) Get a birth control prescription before having sex."

Unfortunately, neither is an easy process for many minors in this country. Many American parents don't teach their children about sex properly, if they broach the subject at all other than to say, "Don't!" Those that do may not want their children to have access to birth control because they might think of it as encouragement to have sex. Look at what happened with the HPV vaccine. Parents were fighting over whether their kids should be given a vaccine agains cancer, because they thought it would make teens think they could safely have sex.

Total insanity.

We have a high rate of teen pregnancy. About 10% of all pregnancies. About 25% of all unmarried pregnancies. Abstinence-only education is a dismal failure. But we can reduce those numbers in part by creating an environment with proper social and health support services for teens, and by properly educating them about sex and how they can become pregnant. Also, what steps they can take to avoid pregnancy.
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Adults don't have to do those things. Requiring a minor who in some cases will not have had a real choice to use birth control during the act to have the presence of mind and the means to see and pay for a doctor who will agree to write a prescription (there are places where you can't take this for granted) within that limited timeframe (this happens Friday evening, by the way, and she might not have time to do anything but go to urgent care, which in her neck of the woods may not exist) is limiting that girl's rights in a meaningful way. Saying that she could just waut around and have an abortion is a bad joke. In most places abortion is likewise treated as a privilege. 35 states currently require some form of parental notification for abortions. They're also expensive for people who are still in high school, and not necessarily easy to get to. Lord have mercy on the unlucky teenage girl who lives in South Dakota.

Saying "well, she could have used birth control beforehand, when she still had the right to at her age" and not letting her use it afterwards is nothing but a punitive measure. You can't have birth control because it will reward you for having sex in an immature way. I'm afraid you'll have to ask an adult for permission to not get pregnant now.
posted by Adventurer at 12:47 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


A lot of the anti-abortion folks who do support contraception will tell you the same thing about all the other available options to prevent pregnancy. But we are talking about specific moments in time here and obviously there is already an understanding that the other options have failed or not been used. Sending these people to a doctor when there is no medical reason to do so is a paternalistic restriction on their reproductive rights.

The ability of the President to decide instead of the FDA is not a power I want to give to Republicans, even if it could be justified for Democrats.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:48 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Requiring a minor who in some cases will not have had a real choice to use birth control during the act to have the presence of mind and the means to see and pay for a doctor who will agree to write a prescription (there are places where you can't take this for granted) within that limited timeframe (this happens Friday evening, by the way, and she might not have time to do anything but go to urgent care, which in her neck of the woods may not exist) is limiting that girl's rights in a meaningful way.

The fact that you are limiting the rights of a minor is not a compelling argument on its own. Minors do not have the same rights as adults and have never had the same rights as adults.
posted by empath at 1:23 PM on December 9, 2011


C) Talk to a doctor after having unprotected sex to get a Plan B prescription.

That you think this is simple is just unbelievable. Literally I cannot believe you would seriously suggest this is a valid option.

In any case, the whole reason for doctors to be involved is if the medication has some dangerous side effects or there are concerns about the health and safety of the user. The FDA looked into this, decided there was no such risk, and therefore advised that it should be made available WITHOUT a prescription. What part of this do you find confusing?
posted by odinsdream at 1:33 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Minors do not have the same rights as adults and have never had the same rights as adults.

And this is not a compelling argument in this particular case. What are the health and health policy reasons for restricting Plan B from being on-the-shelf-available to those who need it, regardless of age?
posted by rtha at 1:39 PM on December 9, 2011


What are the health and health policy reasons for restricting Plan B from being on-the-shelf-available to those who need it, regardless of age?

As I've said before, if health policy reasons were the only reasons that drugs got regulated, there would be a whole bunch more drugs that would be legal. It's not the only consideration.
posted by empath at 1:46 PM on December 9, 2011


The fact that you are limiting the rights of a minor is not a compelling argument on its own. Minors do not have the same rights as adults and have never had the same rights as adults.

But they have some rights. The right to not get pregnant even when your parent says "sorry, I would prefer that you be pregnant" strikes me as a fundamental human right akin to the right to not be enslaved or physically attacked or imprisoned without cause.
posted by Adventurer at 1:56 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please share with the rest of us what these "other reasons" are in this specific case.
posted by odinsdream at 1:56 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's not the only consideration.

Of course not, but that's the very reason why people are discussing this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:58 PM on December 9, 2011


The right to not get pregnant even when your parent says "sorry, I would prefer that you be pregnant" strikes me as a fundamental human right akin to the right to not be enslaved or physically attacked or imprisoned without cause

Explain to me how that is the case after this ruling? There is absolutely about this that has anything to do with parental notification.
posted by empath at 2:02 PM on December 9, 2011


Last week Obama hadn't declared that he agreed with the flipping American Family Association in their position that women were sub-human vermin who didn't deserve rights. This week he did.

yep, i'm sure that's exactly what he thinks.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:07 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Explain to me how that is the case after this ruling? There is absolutely about this that has anything to do with parental notification.

It is if you can't get a prescription any other way. But you could replace "parent" with "adult." It's as arbitrary as the adult can be. The issue is that somebody has to give the minor permission. She can't just desperately want to not be pregnant. That doesn't matter.
posted by Adventurer at 2:10 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


... and of course in most states it does eventually turn into a parental notification issue, if you can't get that prescription for yourself within 72 hours.
posted by Adventurer at 2:22 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


if health policy reasons were the only reasons that drugs got regulated, there would be a whole bunch more drugs that would be legal. It's not the only consideration.

Are you talking about recreational drugs? I'm as big a legalization booster as you will ever find but there is a legitimate categorical difference between them and drugs approved by the FDA for medical uses.

(Or if that isn't what you mean, could you clarify?)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:35 PM on December 9, 2011


On page 22 of this report (.pdf) from the CDC, we see that the rate of births to girls age 10-14 was .4 in 2010 - a total of 4,500 girls.

The rate for girls age 15-17 was 17.3, or 109,193.

It's likely that at least some of them wanted to become pregnant and have a baby. It's likely as well that a whole lot of them didn't, and being able to get Plan B as easily as possible would have made a difference.
posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Minors do not have the same rights as adults and have never had the same rights as adults.

I'm still chewing this over. And because I do think you're smart, empath, I'd like to entreat you to abandon this argument, because in fact when it comes to buying OTC meds that just sit there on the shelf, minors have the same rights as adults. There has never been a restriction on minors buying Tylenol, or cough syrup, or vitamins, or homeopathic woo pills, or etc.

And for god's sake, the Secretary of State just got up in front of the UN and said that human rights are LGBT rights and vice versa, and she explicitly said that using religious reasons to deny rights to LGBT people was bullshit (my word, not hers). Pardon me for being surprised that the administration is okay with this, and yet shrivels up in a corner when it comes to Plan B being available without a prescription or having to to get it from a pharmacist.

And if you think the right wing isn't losing their shit over Clinton's speech, head over to free republic.
posted by rtha at 3:22 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


My comment was suggesting someone who wanted to protest with a vote should instead vote for the Libertarian Party candidate since they have a pro-choice platform.


Right, but insofar (as noted above, before I got a time-out for telling you to -- albeit less poetically --"make love to yourself") (A) there are no members of the Libertarian Party (1) who are going to fucking win a Presidential election, much less (2) run as de jure Republicans, and (B) Ron Paul is explicitly anti-abortion (also too, racist and a host of other otherwise anti-Progressive qualities save for his not-being-Obama, I guess), your comment has basically zero grounding in reality.

But go ahead and vote anti-choice Libertarian if that satisfies your political Id or whatever.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:06 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anti-choice Libertarian: tragedy, farce, or band name?
posted by joe lisboa at 10:16 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


But go ahead and vote anti-choice Libertarian if that satisfies your political Id or whatever.

I'm sorry that times are tough, but handing another woman's civil rights over to Obama so that you can get a lower tax bill is a pretty crappy deal — for women.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 PM on December 9, 2011


As a woman, though not speaking for all women, I'd like to go on the record as saying I prefer Obama in the White House to any of the other candidates who have made an appearance this campaign. Not a tough decision.
posted by rtha at 5:15 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Adventurer, for all your great comments in this thread.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:10 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) who are going to fucking win a Presidential election, much less

We are talking specifically about protest voting.

(B) Ron Paul is explicitly anti-abortion

I know, which is why I said to vote LP instead.

But go ahead and vote anti-choice Libertarian if that satisfies your political Id or whatever.

The Libertarian Party has a pro-choice platform. It generally runs pro-choice candidates for President, Paul and Barr being notable exceptions, which is why I suggested that someone planning to make a protest vote consider them depending on who they ultimately nominate and the views of the voter on these issues.

You and Ironmouth have both had stupid temper tantrums over a totally benign comment for no apparent reason, can you stop now?

Anyway, are we sure this particular twelve dimensional chess move is actually to Obama's political benefit?

Digby: Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said she could “not even remotely” understand the political calculus of the decision, saying it “alienates the base, causes conflict with women in the base, [is] bad for key groups of women like younger women and unmarried women, and doesn’t win the swing independent women.”
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:49 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not the only consideration.

Still waiting for you to let the rest of us know what the other considerations were in this particular case, empath.
posted by odinsdream at 1:11 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


A true libertarian is pro-life. I don't see how anyone could think otherwise. If you take a life then you have deprived that person of liberty and freedom. This is consistent with other libertarian positions.
posted by republican at 10:29 PM on December 10, 2011


No true Libertarians, then, I guess.

Begs the question just a teeny bit, as well.
posted by rtha at 10:34 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question as regards to rights is obvious, a Libertarian should oppose depriving people of their lives. As always, the problem is with how one defines a human life. Even pro-choice Democrats, of course, agree that it is wrong to kill people.

If we are talking about the Libertarian political party in the US, we are talking about a party with an officially pro-choice platform.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:41 PM on December 10, 2011


Fundamentally, the way politics works in the US is that some group starts a fringe party, and that party makes a lot of noise until one of the major parties makes a slight shift in their platform in order to absorb them.

So while the Libertarians will never be able to run a serious presidential candidate, they could have some impact on which candidate gets to run. Of course right now it's the GOP that's absorbing the Libertarians. If the Libertarians were really, stridently pro-choice, they might manage to move the GOP very slightly on this issue. Maybe getting them to allow Plan B, for instance. But of course they care much more about economic liberty than personal liberty, so that's never gonna happen.
posted by miyabo at 11:00 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


[ buncha comments deleted. Joe lisboa and furiousxgeorge, you two absolutely have to leave each other alone now. Serious warning. Damn.]
posted by taz at 12:35 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


But, again, have fun treating American presidential electoral politics like it's some MMORPG. God knows a cluster of well-fed and well-paid MeFites will jump to your defense.

Your assumptions about how much money I make are not warranted.

I strongly disagree with the idea that out of all the pieces of culture war ammunition Fox News has already acquired since 2008 and will continue to pile up and shout hysterically and continuously about over the next eleven months, this particular one would have changed any undecided voter's mind next November. Much of the outrage here is in fact about what appears to be the incredibly unnecessary uselessness of the gesture. It certainly didn't win us anything in the payroll tax fight.

Note, by the way, that the administration has already traded federal funding for abortion (which he supported during the campaign) in order to get health care passed, and agreed to forbid D.C. to spend city money on abortion in order to avoid a government shutdown. And this, which is about birth control, which is about preventing abortion, they apparently did for free. Carving reproductive rights down to the bare bones of Roe v. Wade is doing the very least you can do hang on to women voters who have nowhere else to turn, not actually protecting the rights of women.

It's true that women aren't the only "special-interest group" being held hostage by the radical right. But it's also true that it's deeply frightening that the administration doesn't think it's that big a deal to effectively force people (who aren't even trying to get abortions!) to be pregnant. (And yes yes yes nobody's forcing these women and girls to have sex, except when sometimes they are being forced to have sex, but whether they deserve to be punished for being sluts or not doesn't make it any easier for them to get Plan B or an abortion. I'd like to expand on what I said about having to request parental permission to get a prescription, by the way. Requiring a middle or high school student who's too young to drive or legally have a job to make, travel to, and pay for what is likely, given the 72-hour timeframe, to be a same-day Monday doctor's appointment plus subsequent pharmacy visit is making it very, very difficult for that kid to get Plan B without asking for help from an adult. Knowing that there's a possibility that they could get lucky, a significant percentage of panicky kids are not going to confess to those adults, some of whom are in fact going to be genuinely abusive and untrustworthy, before the 72 hours are up. I would also like to note that having grown up going to an OKC-area pediatrician who suddenly started asking me about my personal relationship with Jesus when I started high school, I'm not convinced that being able to get to a doctor is going to be enough for every at-risk minor.)
posted by Adventurer at 1:28 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sen. Patty Murray: “I’m very disappointed that Secretary Sebelius has chosen to override the careful scientific analysis of the FDA by blocking further access to emergency contraception," Murray said. "When it comes to the reproductive health of women, I’ve consistently said that we need to put science and medical evidence first. In this case, both the FDA and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research did careful analysis and determined that Plan B is safe and effective for over-the-counter use by more women."

Hillary Clinton Pushed For Wider Plan B Access During Time In Senate: In April 2005, Clinton and Murray announced they were blocking the nomination of Lester Crawford, President George W. Bush's choice to head the FDA, until the agency made a decision about whether to make Plan B available over the counter, without a prescription.

"We appreciate Dr. Crawford coming in to meet with us today, but the bottom line is that the FDA has had the Plan B application for years and the American people simply need an answer yes or no. Science should never take a back seat to politics and ideology," Clinton said.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:28 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Salamandrous. I think the key is to over-identify with terrified 13-year-olds who just screwed up in a major way.
posted by Adventurer at 1:32 AM on December 11, 2011


Are men allowed to purchase plan B? (presumably for a woman) And if so, is there an age requirement to purchase it?
posted by raccoon409 at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2011


Yes, men 17 and older can buy Plan B. I think you can even give it to a woman who isn't a family member, as long as you don't sell it.
posted by miyabo at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2011


I’m very disappointed that Secretary Sebelius has chosen to override the careful scientific analysis of the FDA

Poor Sebelius, taking one for the team, like that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


"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,"

President Obama, on the importance of science and the importance of not bowing to political pressure to distort or ignore scientific conclusions. He said that back in 2009.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why many of us on the left feel betrayed by Obama. It's not because we're impatient and don't understand that politics often proceeds by baby steps [1], it's because he keeps betraying us. He says something that sounds good, and then he goes and does the opposite.

See, when Obama, back in 2009, said he'd listen to scientists on scientific issues, even when it might be politically inconvenient, we expected him to do just that. Instead he did the opposite, thus the feelings of betrayal.

[1] Except for right wing politics, which proceeds not by baby steps but by giant leaps, only progressive politics happens by baby steps it appears. Same as the rule that it takes 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate only applies to bills proposed by liberals and conservative bills only take 51 votes to pass.
posted by sotonohito at 8:43 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's a lot like that speech he gave awhile back, saying that we needed a system to protect everyone's right, while in the exact same speech, proposing a new justice system that will remove them from anyone he chooses.

The man is an absolute and utter liar. He can look you straight in the face, tell you five untrue things, and you'll believe them, plus the sixth he didn't directly claim. Anyone who votes for him is a fool, even given the paucity of other options.
posted by Malor at 4:37 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, naive question here, and forgive me if it has been answered upstream:

It's my understanding that Plan B is nothing more than an extra-high dosage of birth control pills. If that's true, why aren't there grassroots programs educating teens that they can get around all this prescription for Plan B nonsense by asking friends on the Pill to give/sell them X doses? (And then, presumably, the friend just tells her doctor she lost X pills down the sink this month, so could she refill early, please?)

I know it's not a perfect answer, but it's a path that would remain open for many girls, regardless of prescription law. Not a legal path, but a viable one.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:09 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


If that's true, why aren't there grassroots programs educating teens that they can get around all this prescription for Plan B nonsense by asking friends on the Pill to give/sell them X doses? (And then, presumably, the friend just tells her doctor she lost X pills down the sink this month, so could she refill early, please?)

This is a seriously bad idea that would lead to more teen pregnancies. Y'know how the pill needs perfect usage to be as effective as possible? That involves taking the pill at the exact. same. time. every. day. Even fudging it by a couple of hours can make a serious difference - which when we're talking about something preventing pregnancy is non-trivial.

You shouldn't give away your birth control pills, ever, because it's not at all like giving away a condom where you can just get more. This isn't like the "trick" where you can skip the placebo week of the pill and not get your period. You should never mess with the active hormone pills unless you really think a surprise pregnancy would be tops.

Teens are famously less good at taking the pill perfectly than older women - partly because they're new to contraception in general, partly because most teens aren't known for their time management skills. Trying to "game" that isn't going to help anyone. Teens who take the pill need to take it seriously. The pill is seriously far from perfect - the friends I've known personally who got pregnant while using contraception? ALL used the pill. These were adult women who had been using it for years. I know more women pregnant while on the pill than I know of women who got pregnant from a broken condom. Anything that encourages teens to use the pill... creatively... even if good-intentioned is potentially encouraging more teen pregnancies.
posted by sonika at 4:21 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, thanks for that education, sonika.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2011


Amanda Marcotte has a good roundup of links to studies about the impact of leaving Plan B in its current status. Plus some commentary.

The short form is: keeping Plan B prescription even part way is denying it to a lot of women, including women over the age of 17.
posted by sotonohito at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Time for Plan B on Plan B? New research proves progressives were right to be upset by restrictions on emergency contraceptives.
posted by homunculus at 9:45 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


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