In the Left's never-ending effort to enable girls and women to have recreational sex without being "punished with a baby" (as President Obama put it in reference to his daughters awhile back), emergency contraception will now be less expensive and more accessible because of two new developments.
Instead of having to take two Plan B pills, a new single-dose version - referred to as Plan B One Step (PBOS) - has been rushed through approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); further, a generic version - at roughly half the price of the original Plan B - can be purchased over the counter by anyone (even though the fine print stipulates that it is for women age 17 and older). So, anyone can go into any drug store and purchase a relatively inexpensive version (at $20 to $40) of a high-potency pill that used to be available only by prescription and under a doctor's supervision.
Lots of folks are going to make a lot of money. The bad guys are going to have an easier time convincing girls to forego the condom. Girls and women are, once again, going to be the guinea pigs for a broad, general experiment in social engineering; it will be several years before we learn about the young girls whose bodies weren't able to handle such high-powered drugs in such a strong dosage. It won't be too long before some vulnerable girls are victims of unscrupulous guys who exploit them and then hand them a PBOS as they walk out the door. Even if a girl's body can take the chemical assault, what of her emotions, her sense of self-worth, when he doesn't call afterwards and it dawns on her that he wasn't really attracted to "her" … just sex.
Thanks, FDA! You just made the nation's girls easy prey for the bad guys. The "reproductive rights" advocates are doing handsprings. The Huffington Post is calling the new ruling a victory of science over politics. The PR flacks are keeping a low profile, hoping for minimal pushback so the new drugs will quietly become entrenched as normal.
Now the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services are trying to reassure the public that PBOS is perfectly safe and that it is 95 percent effective within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex (though some studies show discrepancies in effectiveness). Obviously, the drug will be misused since it is cheap and readily available, despite there being a long list of predictable side effects (nausea, etc.) which the advertisers have conditioned everyone to tune out. How many young teens (or grown women for that matter) are going to read the fine print? We have to assume some girls and women will use emergency contraception too often. Even though we still don't know the effect of long-term use or how female hormones will response to these dosages, particularly if repeated, the manufacturers - trying to shield themselves in the event of anticipated lawsuits - do issue warnings against repeated use. All this risk and, thus far, the data don't show the use of already-available emergency contraception lowering the number of non-marital pregnancies or abortions.
The FDA agreements contain some notable inconsistencies and favoritism. Teva Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Plan B, will be the only company able to sell the drug over the counter without age restrictions. Generic versions have to include a statement about being intended for women 17 years or older; except the FDA does not require drug stores to check IDs, so the warning label is a "wink and a nod" to caution, and it means absolutely nothing. Without requiring proof of age from buyers, the restriction on the label is meaningless.
The widespread, inexpensive availability of emergency contraception has been a goal of the "reproductive rights" movement for at least two decades. This victory is viewed as a major political achievement; however, it is important to note: removing the age restriction was the result of a judge's order. In addition, political appointees and accomplices in the media ignored legitimate concerns and put the very best spin on every aspect of the evaluation process. Any dissent has been described as "playing politics with women's bodies" or a "war against reason," and the favorite line of defense is to describe emergency contraception in any form as "safer than aspirin." That may be true for some girls and women, except when it isn't.
This column originally appearing in The Amerian Spectator.