If you are not following the Plan B saga, here’s what you need to know:
Plan B is one type of morning after pill. It is the hormone levonorgestrel. The brand is Plan B but there are generics as well. It does not cause abortion. It does not affect implantation. It works by inhibiting ovulation.
The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The American Academy of Pediatrics feel that Plan B should be available over-the-counter to anyone who wants to buy it without a prescription or identification. This is because
- The sooner the product is taken, the more effective it is (i.e. if you have already ovulated, it won’t work)
- There is no known medical contraindication to taking levonorgestrel. And one could take it every day, but since the generic is $25 (at least) the chance that would actually happen is 0%.
- Levonorgestrel is very safe. Far safer than many drugs already available without a prescription of identification. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is far more dangerous than levonorgestrel.
- Identification is a big barrier. Not everyone has their ID with them at all times and not everyone has a driver’s license. Especially young people.
Initially, the Obama administration stepped in and went against the Food and Drug Administration who voted in 2011 to make Plan B available to all ages without a prescription. We were left with the over-the-counter for ages 17 and up ruling.
Various groups sued the department of Health and Human Services about this decision, but in the meantime the FDA decided to to approve an application from Teva (the manufacturer of the brand name product, Plan B) to sell their Plan B product on the shelf to those ages 15 and up, albeit with identification.
Judge Edward Korman of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals called bullshit on everyone. The Obama administration, the FDA, and Teva and sided with (gasp) science. Korman agreed that the science says that Plan B is safe and not an abortifacent, but rather contraception (remembers, it interferes with ovulation) just like a condom, so it should not have an age restriction nor an ID requirement.
From a science perspective this should have been the end of the story. But it’s America and the government is cowardly and science is often viewed as witchcraft.
There has never been a levonorgestrel related death, but almost 200 children under the age of 12 die every year in the United States from gun violence, but I don’t see any federal legislation banning children from touching firearms. Every day in the United State 7 people between the ages of 1 and 19 die from gun violence, but the government is concerned about Plan B affecting the safety of the youth of America?!
Mr. President and Ms. Sebelius if you really cared about protecting young people you wouldn’t be wasting tax dollars appealing Plan B.
No one aged 19 and under will die today from Plan B, but 7 will die from gun violence.