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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Plan's A, B & C

Black Bedouin
On Friday, a federal judge ordered the Obama administration to allow access to OTC sales of emergency contraception (also known as Plan B) to any female without any age restrictions. It makes Plan B available to girls as young as 11-years old. When I heard about this the only phrase that came to mind was “Let the debates begin”.  And I was not disappointed….from CNN to Fox, everybody had something to say.

I was actually glad to hear that it was going to be made available.  There are still too many unwanted/teen pregnancies in this country.  Even with a drastic decline in teen pregnancies in the U.S. over the last 10-15 years, we still lead the developed world in teen pregnancies.

Unfortunately, there are many girls who are too afraid to tell their mothers or grandmothers that they are pregnant for fear of physical abuse, and in some cases, being kicked out of the family home. And while abortion is legal, financially it can be out of reach for many teens. 

Opponents to Plan B say that teenage girls should abide by Plan A – or abstinence. While that sounds like the higher path we want our girls to follow, the hideous and tragic events of Steubenville, from recent history, come to mind. I don’t want to debate the details of that incident, but what a tragedy that would be if the young lady involved had become pregnant.

Then there’s the other side – the proponents of Plan C, also known as, go ahead and have the baby.  These are decisions that should not be made without complete consideration, but watch 16 and Pregnant on MTV and you hear many girls wonder what they were thinking when they got pregnant – the weighty decision of becoming mothers, dealing with rebellious, too young fathers and the complete stopping of their own lives.

As a Global Community, we have to be realistic about what young people know about sex and what teens, in particular, are doing when it comes to sex.  While we have made much progress in our country with lowering teen pregnancy rates, we obviously have a ways to go. Not making Plan B available is not going to stop teen sex and/or pregnancy. However, it may be an alternative for some who are caught up in bad situations all the way around.

Young people need to know that they have options.  We give them options for everything from cell phones to the high schools they attend, but somehow think they are never having sex or shouldn't have choices about sex. Plan B is really emergency contraception and should not take the place of sex education and long-term birth control.

Plan B can be an option for young girls and women who are in family or living situations that are non-supportive and non-communicative when it comes to sex. When it comes to teaching our youth about sex, every family is not as savvy about educating their teens about sex as they are with cell phones. Plan B, while not optimal, can be a better choice than having an unwanted pregnancy.

Keep the conversation going!! bb