Increasing Access to Birth Control Increases Use of Birth Control

I know this probably won’t shock many here, but still, it’s good news:

The popularity of the morning-after pill Plan B has surged in the year since the federal government approved the sale of the controversial emergency contraceptive without a prescription.

Plan B sales have doubled since the Food and Drug Administration authorized the switch for women 18 and older last August, rising from about $40 million a year to what will probably be close to $80 million for 2007, according to Barr Pharmaceuticals, which makes Plan B.

The sharp rise was hailed by women’s health and family-planning advocates, who say it illustrates the value of easing access to birth control to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.

“This is exactly what we hoped would happen,” said Susan F. Wood of the George Washington University School of Public Health. As assistant commissioner for women’s health and director of the Office of Women’s Health at the FDA, Wood pushed for the switch. “What we’re seeing is women who needed this product now finally having access to it. For a woman in that position, it can make a real difference in her life.”

So more women are using Plan B, which means fewer unwanted pregnancies and fewer abortions.  Who could be upset with that?

But conservative groups that fought the change say they are disturbed by the surging use.

“This is very concerning,” said Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council, which is among several groups suing the FDA to reverse the decision. “We think this is putting women’s health at risk.”

Why would that put women’s health at risk?  Uh — hey, what’s that?  No, behind you!  Well, I thought I saw something.

Anyhow, there’s another reason for conservative opposition than the well-documented, completely-not-made-up women’s health issues (which are much worse than, say, the fallout of being raped and having to go through either surgical abortion or forced childbirth):

Conservative members of Congress and advocacy groups strongly opposed the move. They questioned the drug’s safety and argued that easier availability could encourage sexual activity and make it easier for men to have sex with underage girls.

Yes!  Because many’s the time I’ve thought, “Boy, I’d love to sleep with that 14-year-old, if only there was some sort of birth control she could take afterward.”  Of course, I haven’t thought that since I was about 14, and the second part of the thought (the “if only” clause) actually really didn’t enter my mind at the time, because I was 14, and stupid.

It’s not so much the “men sleeping with underage girls” part as the “encourag[ing] sexual activity,” because Sweet Chocolate Jesus, we can’t have humans having sex.  That would be awful.

At least the wingnuts are still making sure that if a 15-year-old is raped, she’ll have to get her parent’s permission to get Plan B.  They’ve still got that going for them.

As for me, I’m heartened by stories like this:

Sarah, 27, a school counselor who lives in the District, was glad she did not need a prescription after the condom her boyfriend was using came off last month.

“I just went to the pharmacy, and it was so easy,” she said, asking that her last name not be used. “It’s a really good option.”

It’s almost like some magic pill that lets women not be penalized for having sex.  No wonder the right hates it so.



Filed under 10_jeff_fecke

9 responses to “Increasing Access to Birth Control Increases Use of Birth Control

  1. Constant Comment

    It’s almost like some magic pill that lets women not be penalized for having sex. No wonder the right hates it so.

    And that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it?

  2. “We think this is putting women’s health at risk.”

    Well, how wonderful for you … you go on “thinking” that, because, you know, the rest of us will follow that little thing called ‘reality’, like 99% of the FDA advisory board (the bush appointed leader was the only hold out) and 100% of the medical professionals that advised them, that all concluded that Plan B was safe (hell, that it was safe for teenagers too).

    It’s like the wingnut fundie dropkicks that continue on “well we opposed homosexuality because we think it is a dangerous lifestyle” when it’s proven that being gay has no differences than being straight.

    It’s like they see reality as this inconvenient little speed-bump that they may have to go over on the way to their goal.

  3. “Sweet Chocolate Jesus,”

    I love that. I’m totally going to start saying it, just to make my Catholic mother squirm. Thanks for the chuckle.

  4. Kelley

    I’m so glad you posted this! Allow me to rant on parental notification laws. I am preparing a petition for judicial bypass for a 17-year old client. It’s my job to prepare her for the inquisition…I mean, hearing by the judge on Monday. The whole process is absurd and demeaning, as it typically involves finger-wagging by upper-class judges who think (a) girls should not have sex before marriage, and (b) should use birth control. By and large, the whole process is merely legalistic slut-shaming. The hearing is private, which is good on the one hand. However, that means the finger-wagging is reserved exclusively for the young woman in questions. The young man *never* has to face the court, or any of this demeaning process. Needless to say, he doesn’t undergo any of the shaming process.

    Minors should absolutely be able to obtain emergency contraception with out parental notification. To think that every parent/child relationship allows free, non-judgmental communication is delusional. My client’s parents threatened to throw her out of house on numerous ocasions if she ever got pregnant. Frankly, the distorted world view these judges have pisses me off to no end.

    Why doesn’t she just use birth control you ask? Fair enough. I asked the same in an attempt to prepare her for her shaming…I mean, hearing. Her family doesn’t have insurance and can’t afford the cost of birth control. So what, you may say, Planned Parenthood gives away condoms for free. I say, first, she’s 17. Show me a pair of hormonal 17-year olds who *always* exercise good judgment. Second, there’s the fact that her parents have repeatedly threatened to throw her out of the house. I suspect that fact alone made her rather reluctant to have her parents drive her to the nearest Planned Parenthood for free condoms.

    What I cannot understand, for life of me, is why young women have to undergo these hearings so the judge can determine whether or not they are mature enough for an abortion and understand the consequences thereof, yet there’s no hearing to determine whether or not they are mature enough to give birth to and raise a child.

  5. sari

    It’s not so much the “men sleeping with underage girls” part as the “encourag[ing] sexual activity,” because Sweet Chocolate Jesus, we can’t have humans having sex. That would be awful.

    This got me thinking about a great article I read in Vogue magazine about an awesome woman doctor who is promoting the HPV vaccine for all women (including those older than 26).

    She held up a bumper sticker her teenage son gave her:
    “Life is Sexually Transmitted”

    I love that

  6. Christina B

    “Minors should absolutely be able to obtain emergency contraception with out parental notification. To think that every parent/child relationship allows free, non-judgmental communication is delusional. ”

    Parental notification laws are written for authoritarian parents who don’t have good communication (or probably relationships) with their daughters. Families that have good, supportive, open communication don’t need a law to make daughters communicate with their parents. They are for the father who thinks that his daughter’s body belongs to him, so that she cannot get away with sneakily acting like it belongs to her.

  7. Christina B –

    I just wanted to say I completely agree.

    Good parents are good parents, and one shouldn’t try and substitute legislation in order to compensate for one’s lacking as a parent. If one has done the right thing as a parent, then one’s child should feel like they could come to one, but if they don’t, then one has bigger issues to deal with that one’s daughter taking Plan B.

    This goes double for abortion access.

  8. boatboy_srq

    There are days I think the American lifestyle as currently iterated is essentially toxic. We as a nation have severely pressing health-related issues: lack of access to preventive medical care, enforced reliance on private health insurance, inadequate environmental concern (let alone protection), totally inadequate diet and nutrition from birth onward (and earlier if you read the right journals), an addiction to work to the point of denying reasonable sick or maternity leave, marginally safe transportation systems and work environments, skyrocketing infant mortality rates, decreasing life expectancy – and the rightwingers latch onto this as a significant health issue? Puh-leeze.

    Then again, reading the rationale for opposition to the announcement,and harking back to the recent revelations of GOP/fundie sexual misdeeds, I’m reminded what these volk think of the population at large: toys, breeding machines and cannon fodder for the Elect.

    And let’s face it: “mak[ing] it easier for men to have sex with underage girls” assumes there isn’t a proscription on that already. There’s a term for such: it’s called statutory rape, and it’s a felony most places. Disposing of the “evidence” doesn’t negate the act. If the rightwingers were so hot against it they’d actually encourage more prosecution of the act. We’ve all seen enough evidence to the contrary: I think I’ve heard just about every excuse except girls ask for it just because their privates are built in that inviting way. And, like the pro-life moms taking their pro-life kids to Planned Parenthood for a “private procedure” in the midst of a protest outside the clinic, I expect far too many opponents of Plan B are the kind of sexual predator prepared to make this noise so women won’t think about what their latchkey daughters are up to with the meter reader, brush salesman or local elected official.

  9. Pingback: ShortWoman» Blog Archive » Eight Legged Shorties

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