Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has overruled a decision to make the morning-after pill available without a prescription to girls under 17—shocking pro-lifers and abortion advocates alike.
The morning-after pill has been a signature issue for abortion advocates. For years they claimed that it would reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions by 50%. Yet, like their other claims, it has proven false. Since the drug has been available to over-18-year-olds in the U.S., it has not reduced unintended pregnancies or abortions.
Sebelius raised concerns that easy access for minors could negatively impact girls as young as 11. Rightfully so—if a 12-year-old is in a situation in which she may get pregnant, then she’s being abused. She needs an adult to intervene, and one way an adult will find out is if the girl requests a morning-after pill.
Young girls are not mature enough to make this kind of medical decision, nor to know that they should be checked for a sexually transmitted disease.
When I testified at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing on this issue, I explained that the FDA has never made a high dose of a drug available without a prescription when a low dose of the same drug needs a prescription. If the morning-after pill is easy to get, young women will rely on it—even though it is less effective than any other form of birth control. Why go to a doctor when you can pick up this pill at a convenience store next to the toothpaste?
What will happen to girls—who are going through the teen-hormone years—who take this high dose of hormones? Or take it multiple times? We don’t know.
I outlined these and more reasons why easy access to the morning-after pill would be bad for women in testimony to the FDA and for state legislatures (you can read it here).
Many countries look to the U.S. as the “gold standard” for drug approvals. They should be aware that the previous decision to make the morning-after pill available without prescription for over-18-year-olds was made after massive political pressure from abortion advocates including then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.
This decision, however, reflects mainstream concerns of parents that young girls are not capable of making a medical decisions like taking the morning-after pill, that it could be detrimental to their health, and that they will be exploited if the drug is easy to get.