Kathleen Parker: Prude or prudent?

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: May 7, 2013
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They lost me at the word “women.”

As so often happens with contemporary debate, arguments being proffered in support of allowing teenagers as young as 15 (and possibly younger) to buy the “morning-after pill” without adult supervision are false on their premise.

Here's an experiment to demonstrate.

Question 1: Do you think that women should have access to Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, to be used at their own discretion? Yes!

Question 2: Do you think that girls as young as 11 or 12 should be able to buy the morning-after pill without any adult supervision? Didn't think so.

Question 3: If you answered yes to Question 2, are you a parent? Didn't think so.

Perhaps a few parents answered yes to Question 3, but I suspect not many. Yet repeatedly in the past several days, we've heard the argument that any interference with the over-the-counter sale of Plan B to any female of any age is blocking a woman's right to self-determination.

The debate arose after a federal judge last month ordered that the government remove all obstacles to over-the-counter sales of Plan B. Administration policy is that children as young as 15 can buy the drug without a prescription or parental knowledge. They do have to show identification proving they are 15, which, as critics of such restrictions have pointed out, is problematic for many teens.

The Justice Department has given notice that it will appeal the judge's decision, a move that could potentially backfire and, in fact, remove all age barriers.

The dominant question is legitimate: Even if we would prefer that girls not be sexually active so early in life, wouldn't we rather they block a pregnancy before it happens than wait and face the worse prospect of abortion?

The pros are obvious: Plan B, if taken within three days of unprotected sex, greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy. If a child waits too long to take the pill, however, a fertilized egg could reach the uterine wall and become implanted, after which the drug is useless.



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