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Thursday, May 06, 2004
 
The Calculus of Teen Pregnancy

A few months back a FDA Panel overwhelmingly recommended making "day after" birth control available without a prescription. Mind you this is *not* RU-486, the abortion pill. This is simply two double doses of the regular birth control pill. It can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex.

This potententially could prevent tens of thousands... make that hundreds of thousands of unintended pregnancies and prevent tens of thousands of abortions a year!

But the wing-nut right has flexed its collective muscle and forced the FDA to reject the idea of "Plan B". Undoubtedly they believe that access to birth control will promote teen sex. I've got news for them. A large percentage of teens already have sex. This has been true for... well.... as long as there have been teenagers. Granted the percentages change... but they are are always there. And birth control has become more availabe and pregnancy rates have gone down. hmmmm.

Forcing girls to see a doctor after a condom fails will not prevent them from having sex... but the delay (longer than 72 hours) may lead to an abortion or a baby.
The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) was under intense political pressure from both sides on whether to lift the prescription requirement for emergency contraception. Conservatives argued doing so could encourage unsafe sex. Proponents said easier access to the pills could prevent thousands of abortions and the FDA's own scientific advisers had overwhelmingly backed the change.
...
Within the FDA, the decision was mixed. An internal agency memo, obtained by The Associated Press, suggests medical reviewers backed nonprescription sales of Barr's brand, called Plan B, but were overruled by senior officials.
...
The FDA has left some wiggle room by claiming they can revisit this decision if Barr Laboratories, the drug's manufacturer, provides data for Plan B and girls younger than 16. IMHO, this is simply a bid to delay the decision and gauge the reaction of the public.

I'm sure the Bush administration is trying to figure out which position will win more votes. The last thing they care about are the lives of the women involved and their potential offspring.

[edited for clarity]
 
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