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Plan B's Plan B

[ Posted Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 – 16:53 PDT ]

The news that "Plan B" -- a pill to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy -- will now be sold to all young women age 15 and older (instead of 17 and older, as it was previously) is nothing short of laughable, in multiple ways. The Obama administration is trying to have it both ways on the "morning after" pill, and by doing so are taking a firm anti-scientific stand for irrationality. The only real question now is whether they will be found in contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge's ruling to let science triumph over politics, or whether they will appeal the ruling, firmly standing up for politics over science.

The first way this recently-announced decision is laughable is that the Obama administration insists that it has nothing to do with the court case or the judge's ruling. They're just (they say) approving an earlier application to sell the drug to women age 15 and 16 without a prescription. A little review of the court case is necessary to see how laughable this position truly is. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was presented with a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration which urged that Plan B be sold over-the-counter (without a prescription, in other words), with no age restrictions. Sebelius overruled the scientific evidence, and dictated that all women 16 and under had to get a prescription -- for no medical reason, merely for political reasons. This policy just lost, in federal court. The judge ruled that politics had trumped science, and that there was no reason not to sell the drug without restrictions.

In fact, the judge didn't just rule against the Obama administration, he absolutely eviscerated their legal position. He singled out Secretary Sebelius' decision, calling it "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent." He goes on (at great length) to detail how Sebelius' position was "a strong showing of bad faith and improper political influence." In his conclusion, he calls Sebelius' decisions "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable." The ruling ends with (see the full text of this scathing ruling, in PDF format):

Finally, even if the defendants' arguments would be sufficient to carry the day in the run-of- the-mill case, the bad faith that has permeated consideration of the Citizen Petition, not to speak of the Plan B sponsor's applications, should rule out such relief here. More than twelve years have passed since the Citizen Petition was filed and eight years since this lawsuit commenced. The FDA has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition. Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster. Moreover, one of the devices the FDA has employed to stall proceedings was to seek public comment on whether or not it needed to engage in rulemaking in order to adopt an age-restricted marketing regime. After eating up eleven months, 47,000 public comments, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, it decided that it did not need rulemaking after all. The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency's misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the FDA to engage in further delay and obstruction.

The judge gave the Obama administration 30 days to act. He ruled that Plan B should be made available "without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions" in that time period. The deadline is this Sunday.

And yet, the Obama administration has just announced that it will be changing the rules by only slightly relaxing the age restrictions, the prescription restrictions, and the point-of-sale restrictions -- but we're supposed to believe that this has nothing to do with the judge's order. I'm sorry, but this smells like "further delay and obstruction" to me. And it seems to indicate that the Obama administration is going to ignore the deadline and appeal the ruling.

The really laughable thing about this announcement was how Senator Patty Murray attempted to put a positive spin on the indefensible. "This decision is a step in the right direction for increased access to a product that is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies. It's also a decision that moves us closer to these critical availability decisions being based on science, not politics." Seriously? This "moves us closer" to these decisions "being based on science, not politics" -- when the entire exercise is political? Insert your own "a little bit pregnant" joke here, I suppose.

Here is a quick recap of where we find ourselves:

  • Scientists say "sell it over-the-counter to all, no restrictions"
  • Kathleen Sebelius decides to overrule scientists in an unprecedented way, purely for political reasons.
  • Sebelius loses a lawsuit in which this nakedly political and completely anti-science decision is exposed by a federal judge.
  • Sebelius ordered to follow original scientific rules, within 30 days.
  • On the 25th day, Sebelius says we're going to relax the restrictions a wee bit, but keep them in place, for no scientific reason whatsoever. Oh, and insists that the judge's ruling had nothing to do with it.

Next up on this list: "Deadline is reached." Which will be followed by either: "Obama administration appeals ruling so that it can continue to trump science with politics" or "Obama administration found in contempt of court."

The truly laughable aspect of this sad situation is that Barack Obama promised us all, in his first campaign, to do away with exactly what he's trying to defend now -- having politics dictate federal scientific policy. He promised he wasn't going to do that sort of thing anymore. Obama seems to be blowing an opportunity to live up to this pledge, and one that comes with political cover actually built in. You could have even ironically called it "Obama's Plan B" (or maybe even his "Plan B Plan B"). Obama could have directed Sebelius to throw in the towel and essentially blame the whole thing on the judge, by stating "our hands were tied, so we had to let the scientists decide without politics interfering." But, unless there's another announcement in the next few days, it looks like Obama won't be taking this route.

The really ironic thing, however, comes from Sebelius herself, less than a year ago, when she wrote an article touting the positive things Obamacare contained for women. She ended her piece up with the following -- an ideal she might consider actually trying to live up to, right now:

"Women's health decisions shouldn't be made by politicians or insurance companies. Rather than wasting time refighting old political battles, this Administration is moving forward and putting women in control of their own health care. If women are going to take care of their families and friends, they have to take care of themselves."

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

25 Comments on “Plan B's Plan B”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Forget the scientific reasons in this particular case....

    Does anyone want to discuss the MORALITY of making it easier for girls (and guys) to have consequence free sex??

    Am I the ONLY parent of a daughter here???

    I mean, most of ya'all know me and my attitudes on sex... The more, the merrier is my motto! :D

    But that doesn't mean that I want that to apply to my own underage children..

    (Which I no longer have, thank the gods...) :D

    But still....

    Why not just eliminate the age restrictions on EVERYTHING and truly send this country on the highway to hell??

    Michale

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:
  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Does anyone want to discuss the MORALITY of making it easier for girls (and guys) to have consequence free sex??

    Am I the ONLY parent of a daughter here???

    i don't have one of my own, but i have taught hundreds of thirteen and fourteen year olds. i can tell you with absolute certainty that denying the medicine would do zilch to prevent unprotected sex. if the threat of AIDS isn't enough to dissuade teens, neither is the lack of plan-b pill. is the plan-b pill moral? hellz if i know, but not one teen will say to herself, "gee, there's no plan b pill, so i guess i won't have unprotected sex now.

  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [2] -

    Yeah, I saw the story right after I posted. I hate it when that happens, although it didn't really invalidate what I had to say here, just clarified it a bit.

    [1] -

    Is there an age limit on condoms? No, no there isn't. Should there be? I would argue no, personally. What happens if the condom breaks? Plan B. What's the problem? Why should government be the great moralizer?

    Plan B is not consequence-free. It costs something like $30-60 per pill. That may not be a lot of money to you and me, but to a teenager, that's a pretty big consequence, and one that you'll plan ahead to avoid in the future. $50 is a steep price to pay to the drug store, every time you have sex. Nobody's going to use this for their "Plan A" birth control (hence the name...) -- rubbers are cheaper. It's the kid's money, not tax dollars or anything, so what's your beef?

    -CW

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    So ya'all seem to be saying, "They're gonna do it anyways, so why not give our tacit approval"...

    Sorry, I don't buy it..

    Don't get me wrong. Your arguments for it are logical and rational..

    But it's like with legalizing drugs. There are a thousand good and logical reasons why legalizing drugs is the right thing to do.

    But some things are simply wrong, despite all the logical reasons that support it.

    Legalizing drugs is one of those things. This Plan-B availability to ANYONE is another..

    I *AM* glad to see that ya'all didn't use the "we should just trust the kids to do the right thing" argument..

    Because THAT argument takes us down a road that I don't think ANY of us want to travel down..

    As a parent, I simply cannot see any good coming from this...

    Ironically enough, I just found out I am going to be a grandpa..... again. :D

    Michale

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    As a parent, I simply cannot see any good coming from this...

    Ironically enough, I just found out I am going to be a grandpa..... again. :D

    Wow....

    Howz THAT for a contradiction, eh!?? :D

    Michale

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's the kid's money, not tax dollars or anything, so what's your beef?

    Because it gives tacit approval to kids to do very wrong things..

    It's akin to parents going out and buying booze or drugs for their kids...

    "They're going to drink or do drugs anyways, so why not make it easier for them??"

    As a parent, I don't buy it..

    And, all politics aside, I think that most parents would agree with me...

    Michale

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yeah, I saw the story right after I posted. I hate it when that happens, although it didn't really invalidate what I had to say here, just clarified it a bit.

    Yea, I find it hard to cheer on the DOJ in this case because their reasoning is just as frak'ed up as the judge's who ordered that the drug be sold across the counter w/ no age restrictions/parental consent.

    At the risk of sounding like a hysterical Right Wing ideological fanatic, it's crap like this that is contributing to the moral decline of our society and pits kids against their parents..

    Michale

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    Joshua,

    On another, unrelated note...

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2013/04/26/ftp255/#comment-36238

    Could you check the last comment there.. I am interested in your thoughts on it..

    Michale

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Could you check the last comment there.. I am interested in your thoughts on it..

    electronic monitoring of student engagement sounds interesting for research purposes, but the nanosecond you start to attach consequences to the results, they will lose all validity. all systems that involve reward or punishment immediately lend themselves to being manipulated for an advantage. kids would learn to play video games while highlighting passages they aren't really reading.

    and on the current thread, i disagree about legalization of plan-b being a tacit endorsement of unprotected sex. it's a question of proportion. i don't think plan-b changes society's message that underage, unprotected sex is a bad decision; it just gives kids a way to pay for that bad decision by buying an expensive pill, not by spending the next nineteen years on an unwanted pregnancy.

    ~joshua

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    and on the current thread, i disagree about legalization of plan-b being a tacit endorsement of unprotected sex. it's a question of proportion. i don't think plan-b changes society's message that underage, unprotected sex is a bad decision; it just gives kids a way to pay for that bad decision by buying an expensive pill, not by spending the next nineteen years on an unwanted pregnancy.

    As mature adults (you, more so than I... :D) that is a logical and rational point..

    To a teenager, all they think is, "Well, if they are making this available to me, then it MUST be OK...."

    As to the former, that was my first thought as well.. Any electronic process can be hacked..

    And, frankly, it seems to me that this would make it easier for teachers to further disengage from their students...

    We want to ENCOURAGE personal contact, not make it easier for teachers to avoid it..

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    So, you think condoms should have an age limit to buy? Interesting... what age would you set it at?

    You can't have it both ways. If Plan B is sending some sort of "message" then condom availability is sending exactly the same message. Right?

    [in the backseat of some car near you:]
    Bobby Joe: "Come on, baby, let's go all the way tonight!"
    Linda Sue: "Well, gosh, I saw something on the drug store shelf that gave me full permission so I guess I'll just say yes!"

    Seriously, this is where your logic leads. Keep in mind -- the pill costs FIFTY BUCKS. No kid is going to use this product unless they absolutely NEED to use it. And when they do need it, the longer they wait the less effective it becomes. So why can't they buy it and use it without having to make an appointment with their doctor? It just makes no sense whatsoever to throw this hurdle in the way when it doesn't need to be there.

    Can kids buy Tylenol today? Tylenol is a more dangerous drug than Plan B -- that's what the medical science says. And yet, Tylenol's right there on the shelf where they can buy it.

    -CW

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Seriously, this is where your logic leads.

    "Forgive me, but my logic falters where my son is concerned."
    -Sarek Of Vulcan, STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK

    For once, it's not about logic...

    It's about morality.. It's about welfare of the children..

    Do you see any difference between the Plan B option and making booze and drugs available for kids??

    "They're gonna drink and do drugs anyways, so..."

    and

    "A liter of whiskey is $30!! Kids won't be able to buy it!!"

    Seriously, this is where your logic leads. Keep in mind -- the pill costs FIFTY BUCKS. No kid is going to use this product unless they absolutely NEED to use it. And when they do need it, the longer they wait the less effective it becomes. So why can't they buy it and use it without having to make an appointment with their doctor? It just makes no sense whatsoever to throw this hurdle in the way when it doesn't need to be there.

    And parents get absolutely NO SAY in the matter???

    Tylenol is a more dangerous drug than Plan B -- that's what the medical science says.

    It's not about dangerous drugs or medical science..

    It's about setting limits and boundaries in our children...

    It's about the government supplanting parents and pitting kids against their parents..

    "Dad!! You can't prevent me from getting the It's OK To Have Sex pill!!! President Obama says I have a RIGHT to have it!!!"

    Is THAT the kind of society we want to live in??

    *I* sure as hell don't...

    On another note... Speaking of Trek:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2318237/Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-trailer-Uhura-shares-passionate-kiss-Spock.html

    Star Trek as we know it is dead.. :(

    Michale

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    The prevailing attitude around here is that kids as young as 15 or even younger can handle contemporary attitudes such as sex and pro-creation and should be allowed to make decisions on those subjects totally separate and completely divorced from their parents..

    Sounds good, right??

    Then please explain to me why these same kids are being disciplined and arrested because they wear a gun/NRA t-shirt or they possess a frakin' BUBBLE blower in the shape of a gun or (OH THE HORROR!!!) some elementary school kid makes a gun shaped object out of POPSICLE STICKS!!!

    Can ANYONE explain to me the logic of such completely diametrically opposed positions??

    What's the common denominator here???

    It's the common denominator kids and their "rights"???

    Nope...

    The common denominator is the Leftist/Democrat ideological agenda...

    Anyone wanna dispute this conclusion???

    By all means, take yer best shot...

    But please... Bring FACTS to the discussion...

    Michale

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    So, you think condoms should have an age limit to buy?

    No...

    But I also don't think we should go out of our way to insure that kids can have access to them w/o giving their parents a say in the matter...

    THAT is what this issue is about...

    Michale

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    I mean, look at it..

    Kids can have ALL the Birth Control they want (and having the taxpayers PAY for it is coming) yet kids CAN'T wear an NRA T-shirt or an American Flag bandana to school..

    Where is the logic in that??

    Michale

  17. [17] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Of course they should be able to buy birth control at any age because FREEDOM and aMurica. Oh wait I forgot those things don't apply when the GOP doesn't like it.

    Also another Plan B - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQjh9H-ymK4

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    Of course they should be able to buy birth control at any age because FREEDOM and aMurica. Oh wait I forgot those things don't apply when the GOP doesn't like it.

    So why is it that kids should be able to buy any kind of drugs, alcohol and birth control but they can't be trusted to wear an NRA t-shirt???

    Michale

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Kids can have ALL the Birth Control they want (and having the taxpayers PAY for it is coming) yet kids CAN'T wear an NRA T-shirt or an American Flag bandana to school..

    schools have dress codes, so the learning environment is not disrupted. that doesn't mean people lose their first amendment rights, but bandanas, rosaries and gang colors are very heavily policed.

    i agree that incidents of school violence have led to a ridiculous level of enforcement against anything remotely connected with guns. that's human nature, we overreact. at least in theory, people shouldn't be wasting class time promoting their views on birth control either.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    schools have dress codes, so the learning environment is not disrupted. that doesn't mean people lose their first amendment rights, but bandanas, rosaries and gang colors are very heavily policed.

    Nothing in ANY of the dress codes about NRA T-shirts.

    American Flag t-shirts!?? Com'on...

    i agree that incidents of school violence have led to a ridiculous level of enforcement against anything remotely connected with guns. that's human nature, we overreact.

    Agreed.. So let's see those Lefties ADMIT it's an over-reaction and, hell.. APOLOGIZE for it.. Whatta concept, eh??

    My point in all this is that, if ya'all want to trust kids with such adult and monumental decisions as sex, then they should EQUALLY be trusted with OTHER aspects of adult-hood, no???

    But, as with 98% of everything else discussed here, the political agenda is first and foremost...

    Michale

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    I mean, if kids are old enough to be trusted with making good decisions with regard to sex, surely they can be trusted in making good decisions with regards to guns, right?? :D

    Michale

  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Schools are a red herring which you seem to be introducing because you're losing the main argument. Want to argue that schools shouldn't administer Plan B? OK, I'm fine with that. End of discussion. We're talking about the drug store, not schools.

    As for the main subject, here's a fact for you: kids are going to have sex. They have been having sex approximately since time began, they are having sex RIGHT NOW (OMG!) and they will continue to go on having sex approximately forever. Nothing you, I, or the government says or does is going to change that basic fact one iota. Them's the facts, Jack.

    One of the greatest love stories in the Western canon just proves my point. Romeo was 14 or 15 years old. Juliet was 13. Look it up.

    So, given this fact, what should we do about it?

    Well, we obviously want to reduce teenage pregnancy, so what are the options? Make birth control widely available so kids actually use it, or make it as hard for them to get as possible?

    Condoms are currently sold everywhere (at least where I live). There is no age restriction, they're right there on the shelf. They are for males to use.

    They are not perfect. Sometimes they break. But there's a pill available (which is safer than Tylenol) to females at a steep price (for a teen) which is more effective the sooner it is taken.

    So, what do you do? Make it harder and more time-consuming for teens to use it, or make it easier so they can get it at maximum effectiveness?

    Remember, condoms are available to all, no age limit.

    Why is the government involved in this decision? It's a private person, and a private business, and use of the pill is beneficial and not harmful (unlike your red herring about alcohol). No tax dollars used.

    So what's your problem? Gee, it'd be nice if every parent was loving and communicative and every kid was also communicative and lived in an ideal home setting. Guess what? That's not factual, that's a fantasy.

    What happens if a 13 year old is raped by her father? Do you want her to have access to Plan B, or not? Why?

    If you had a son, and he was having sex without telling you about it, would you want him to be using a condom? When you had your first sexual experience, how soon afterwards did you tell your parents? I think the answer with me was "never," personally. And yet I like to think my parents and me got along well enough. To put this another way: What age did you start carrying a condom in your wallet?

    Deal with the facts, and not with "I want the world to be this way, and I want the government to agree with me," and I'll take your argument seriously.

    -CW

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Schools are a red herring which you seem to be introducing because you're losing the main argument. Want to argue that schools shouldn't administer Plan B? OK, I'm fine with that. End of discussion. We're talking about the drug store, not schools.

    No, I am just EXPANDING the argument..

    Ya'all seem to want to say that we should trust the kids to make the smart decision when it comes to having sex..

    I am simply asking ya'all to be CONSISTENT in ya'alls arguments and not give in to ideological arguments..

    Further, there really is no "wrong" or "right" position in this, because it's a judgment/morality call...

    As for the main subject, here's a fact for you: kids are going to have sex. They have been having sex approximately since time began, they are having sex RIGHT NOW (OMG!) and they will continue to go on having sex approximately forever. Nothing you, I, or the government says or does is going to change that basic fact one iota. Them's the facts, Jack.

    That argument doesn't hold water...

    Kids are going to drink and do drugs and tons of other stuff that is flat out WRONG....

    Does that mean the government should make it EASIER for them to do it??

    One of the greatest love stories in the Western canon just proves my point. Romeo was 14 or 15 years old. Juliet was 13. Look it up.

    OK, if you are advocating a return to that simpler time, I am CERTAIN I can find some aspects of that time ya'all would just hate, right?? :D Should I?? :D

    Well, we obviously want to reduce teenage pregnancy?

    Or, we "obviously" want to instill in our children a sense of responsibility and maturity...

    How will making it easier to have consequence-free sex accomplish that, exactly??

    What happens if a 13 year old is raped by her father? Do you want her to have access to Plan B, or not? Why?

    Of course.. WITH PARENTAL CONSENT....

    When you had your first sexual experience, how soon afterwards did you tell your parents?

    Ummmmm NEVER... :D

    Deal with the facts, and not with "I want the world to be this way, and I want the government to agree with me," and I'll take your argument seriously.

    This is not a "fact based" argument. As I said from the outset, this is one of my few (VERY few) arguments that is not based in logic..

    I have done my best to answer your points. I am hoping you can answer one of mine..

    Do you think it's a good call, from a parenting point of view, to make it EASIER for children to make stupid decisions??

    How is allowing access to Plan B w/o parental consent any different than allowing access to alcohol and drugs??

    Finally I would like to hear from any parents here in Weigantia that disagree with my arguments..

    If there are, exactly what about my argument is "wrong"??

    Michale

  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Let's approach this from a different angle..

    I have already stated why I am opposed to this. Giving kids access to a I-Can-Have-Consequence-Free-Sex pill w/o parental involvement is a bad bad thing.

    Why are you for it??

    Michale

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    The problem with the "they're going to do it anyways" argument is that it can apply to MANY other issues, some of which Democrats would find abhorrent..

    For example, in the discussion David and I are having in the WEDGES/EDGES commentary, I could easily say, "People are going to get guns if they really want them, so why bother with background checks??"

    It's one of those slippery slope arguments that might lead ya down a road you do not want to travel...

    Michale

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