Reproductive rights activists celebrated yesterday outside the federal appeals court in Manhattan after the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order permitting immediate, unrestricted over-the-counter sales of all two-pill emergency contraceptives. Unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step contraceptive are still on hold until the court decides the merits of the government’s appeal.
Julie Rickelman with the Center for Reproductive Rights hopes the pills will be available without restriction within a month: “The two-pill products are going to be readily available to women without age restrictions, on any drugstore shelf. It’ll be like buying Tylenol. You’ll be able to go get it off the drugstore shelf, no ID, at the regular counter.”
That’s exactly what worries opponents of the decision. Family Foundation president Victoria Cobb expressed concern about the ease with which young girls will be able to get this potent product. She points out the unintended consequences: “The government calls pre-marital sex risky behavior because of the high risk of STDs. This ruling may reduce [unintended pregnancies], but it is ignoring the STD risk.” In other words, Cobb said, we are making it sound as if kids can participate in risky behavior, and we have solved all potential problems.
Cobb also said when a pill is marketed as the solution with no consequences, people with abusive intentions will put it to bad use—potentially making it easier for child sexual abusers to cover up their acts.
The court wanted to provide easy access to emergency contraception for women of all ages, yet as Kathleen Parker pointed out in a column, “fifteen-year-olds … are girls, not women.”
Parents can no longer rely on laws protecting their rights to supervise their children’s medical care. Cobb urged parents to stay involved and “be even more diligent about what their kids are given or taking.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.