FDA Plan B Ruling Outrages Conservatives

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The FDA announced Tuesday that the contraceptive pill known as Plan B One-Step can now sit on drugstore shelves instead of being locked up behind pharmacy counters.

Under new guidelines, girls will have to prove they're 15 or older before they can buy the drug. Previously the pill was sold without prescription to women 17 and older.

The FDA's decision has drawn criticism from social conservatives who say parents should be involved in major medical decisions involving young girls not government.

"It's adding to the green light that we are giving to kids for risky behavior," child psychologist Dr. Miriam Grossman said.

Kristen Hawkins, president of Students for Life, shared her insight on the FDA's decision on Newswatch, May 1.

Last year, parents in New York City were outraged to learn about a controversial birth control program in public schools that gave Plan B pills to girls as young as 14.

"What we are finding here is government trying to usurp the role of the parent," City Councilman Fernando Cabrera said.

Plan B is also known as the "morning after" pill. It's supposed to reduce the chances of pregnancy after a person has had unprotected sex.

However, Dr. Grossman and others say it's not full-proof against pregnancy and doesn't prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

"There can still be a pregnancy," he warned. "You can still get herpes. Herpes: lifelong. Other STDs, HIV -- these can all occur as the result of one poor decision."

Critics also worry that allowing Plan B for younger women will lead to more risky behavior and likely lead to more pregnancies and abortions.

"You end up with actually more sexual behavior and you end up with higher risk behavior and you end up with an increase in STDs," Greg Pfundstein, executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, said.

"And you have no change in the number of pregnancies and no change in the number of abortions because people have actually changed their behavior based on their perception of risk," he added.

The bottom line: "It is a further endorsement of this philosophy of kids know best; we are going to leave it up to them," Pfundstein said.

The product will come with this label: "Not for sale to those under 15 years of age. *Proof of age required.* Not for sale where age cannot be verified."

The product will also "be packaged with a product code prompting a cashier to request and verify the customer's age,"  according to the FDA.

Pharmacists can accept a driver's license or permit for age verification purposes. Minors can provide other forms of identification.

"A 15-year-old can use an alternative form of ID to verify their age - for example, a passport or birth certificate," FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said. "If a 15-year-old is unable to verify their age, they will not be able to purchase Plan B One-Step."

Social conservatives warn that even with the verification restrictions the over-arching message suggests there's minimal risk to unprotected sex, and this could have a reverse affect.


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George Thomas

George Thomas

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