A couple of weeks ago, sex specialist Dr. Laura Berman told millions of mothers across the nation on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to buy vibrators for their 14 to 16 year-old daughters. Vibrators? Seriously? Why are we trying to make kids grow up so fast? What happened to the days when all you had to worry about in high school was being in the house before the streetlights came on? Or who you were “going out” with that week, even though you actually didn’t go anywhere and when you did, you were hopefully supervised or had strict restrictions? What is even more shocking is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Plan B, also known as the morning after pill, for 17-year-olds without parental permission or a prescription.
The drug consists of two pills that can prevent conception if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled in February of this year in a lawsuit filed in New York that President George W. Bush’s restrictions on the pill were ruled by political beliefs and not scientifically sound facts. The restrictions were lifted after 30 days of the ruling, and the pill can now be purchased over the counter by anyone 17 and older.
The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy, and every year about 820,000 teens get pregnant, according to Family First Aid. Furthermore, when the FDA approved the drug for 18-year-olds in 2006 without a prescription, there was not a decrease in the amount of abortions and unwanted pregnancies in the U.S., as America remained in the top position for teen pregnancies.
Approving Plan B for 17-year-olds seems to encourage a mentality that sex and its potential consequences can be taken lightly. It’s as if proponents of this measure are saying, “Oh, how wonderful! No more worries girls and boys! You can have sex and not have your baby too! It’s birth control you can get at Rite Aid, right next to the DayQuil! The problem of teen pregnancy has been solved!”
However, it should be noted that Plan B is not birth control. Birth control is a preventive measure a responsible couple takes care of before sex, whether it’s securing that condom for the man or popping the pill for the woman. Plan B is not for the responsible. It’s for the irresponsible (a trait that most 17-year-olds share). In a rush of attraction, lust and hormones, things can happen. For instance, the condom breaks or you haven’t had sex in a while and stopped taking your pill (and of course you don’t have a female contraceptive). Whatever the case, before you write that post on FMyLife.com, you run to the nearest drug store to fix what could potentially change your life forever. And just like the water in your glass disappears after swallowing your Plan B pill, so does your maybe-baby.
This type of solution seems to fit the times. Everyone is always looking for a quicker way to do something. If we were smart, we would instead focus on trying to prevent teens from having sex so that they don’t end up pregnant. Why didn’t we think of that before?
Erica Frazier is a fourth-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at email@example.com.