On Tuesday January 22nd, members of National Women’s Liberation gathered at New York City’s branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to protest the agency’s decision, one year ago, to overrule FDA scientists and restrict the Morning-After Pill (also known as Plan B) from females under the age of 17.
It was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and despite 20-degree weather a small group of 10 to 15 people assembled to make a simple point: All females who are old enough to be pregnant should have access to all forms of birth control.
From the press release: “Restricting the Morning-After Pill to females ages 17 and older makes it physically inaccessible to all females because it is kept ‘behind-the-counter’ at pharmacies. The Morning-After Pill is already available without a prescription [in] at least 63 other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, and Ghana.” View press release.
From a December 2012 article in the Examiner:
“The FDA wanted to remove any Plan B age restrictions, based on research showing that access to the morning-after pill does not increase a woman’s likelihood to have unprotected sex, and that this drug is safe for use by girls as young as 11.” Studies have also indicated “Plan B is safer than many other current OTC medicines, such as aspirin and other painkillers. While an overdose of any of these medications can have dangerous consequences, it is actually impossible to overdose on the morning-after pill. And any theoretical risk is far outweighed by the risk of an unplanned pregnancy in girls and young women.” (View source.)
If the FDA wanted to remove Plan B age restrictions, why isn’t the drug over-the-counter? The answer: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in an unprecedented decision, overruled the FDA decision a year ago to expand access to the Morning-After Pill.
This is the opening statement from the demonstration.
Three women now testified about their experiences.
A woman named Annie spoke next.
A satirical street theater piece came next.
This protester showed how someone underage may be treated when requesting the Morning-After Pill at a pharmacy (refer to street theater video)…
This protester showed how someone with no ID could be restricted from access to the Morning-After Pill (refer to street theater video)…
This protester showed how someone asking for “3 packs” of the Morning-After Pill may be treated (refer to street theater video)…
This concluded the demonstration and it was time for some more information on the restrictions surrounding the Morning-After Pill. At the 0:49 mark of the clip the interviewee explains Obama’s position on the issue. I further asked her to be more specific about the President’s opinion on the subject. Her report of where the President stood did not seem likely.
But no, here is a quote from a New York Times article where he supports Kathleen Sebelius’ decision:
“I will say this, as the father of two daughters: I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,” Mr. Obama said.
“And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect. And I think most parents would probably feel the same way.”
Please compare the ending of that quote to the FDA’s findings with regards to the Morning-After Pill. “…research showing that access to the morning-after pill does not increase a woman’s likelihood to have unprotected sex, and that this drug is safe for use by girls as young as 11.”
“Plan B is safer than many other current OTC medicines, such as aspirin and other painkillers. While an overdose of any of these medications can have dangerous consequences, it is actually impossible to overdose on the morning-after pill.”
Let’s also understand no one is actually encouraging 10 or 11 year-olds to start experimenting with unnecessary pharmaceuticals just because of their placement in a pharmacy. The idea however is to ensure, for those who have matured to the point where they can become pregnant, that women will have access to a drug which will give them more options should unforeseen circumstances arise.
At this point everyone packed up and rushed inside the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts for a warm escape from the 20-degree environment.
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