Tina already covered the news coming out about Kathleen Sebelius pulling the plug on plans to allow pharmacies to dispense the Plan B “morning after pill” to children “of child bearing age” today, but I was left with some other thoughts on the subject which I’d like to toss out for discussion this evening. But before we start, I’d like to get one thing out of the way. It would be very easy to turn this into yet another discussion about abortion, given the nature of the product, but that’s not what has drawn my attention.
Long time readers already know that I have a somewhat annoying, libertarian view on the entire abortion question, which leaves social conservatives calling me a baby killer and progressives saying I want to shoot abortion doctors and keep women barefoot and preggers in the kitchen. It’s not something I care to tear up the interets with yet again. The question for me here is the profoundly illogical idea that Plan B should be available to children in the manner described.
The response from the Obama administration was half hearted at best, mostly because the statement issued by the president began at a starting point of effectively saying, “we would have allowed this change, but the science isn’t convincing enough to persuade us that younger girls would understand the directions and use the product safely.” That was enough for me to begin throwing things at my television.
The real question here isn’t whether or not the product is “safe” enough, or the directions for use are “clear enough for a child to understand.” The real issue is that we are talking about children and the dispensing of a product which profoundly impacts their development and level of supervision. I really don’t care how you may feel about the whole issue of abortion, birth control or medicine in general if you’re an adult in this case. But you can’t even have a teacher giving an aspirin to a 13 year old girl in school without the permission of the parents. You can’t legally let a child get a tattoo without the parents signing off on it.
Are we to seriously consider the question of whether or not a child should be able to get birth control (of any form) without the parents being involved in this decision?
I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. A progressive or a conservative. If there’s anything in this world we might be able to agree on, wouldn’t you think that it might be that parents have a responsibility to be involved in these intimate aspects of their child’s life? Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that you are a very liberal minded parent who – for reasons that boggle my mind as a man – doesn’t mind the idea of your 13 year old daughter having sex. Fine. It’s your family. But wouldn’t you want to know? Wouldn’t you want to be involved in the process of educating her about the dangers of STDs, unwanted pregnancy, and the social complications which arise from entering into that type of physical relationship when their body may say it’s ready but their mind hasn’t matured enough to handle all of the baggage such things entail?
Plan B isn’t a miracle drug that cures acne. If it were, I might consider the possibility that it could be dispensed to a teenage child who was embarrassed about the teasing they received at school. It also doesn’t cure the common cold. (Wouldn’t that be nice, though?) This is a product which has no use for anyone who isn’t engaged in – or considering being engaged in – a sexual relationship. And aren’t parents still, even in this modern age, at least somewhat responsible for guiding their children through that potential minefield? My God, it’s hard enough to deal with as adults!
Sebelius may have made the correct decision – endorsed by the President – but it was for all the wrong reasons. I have libertarian roots which make me tend to want the government to stay out of the business of adults who live their lives and don’t cause harm to anyone else in the process. But surely most of us can agree that the government can acknowledge that parents need to be intimately involved in these matters with their own children.