More Women Can Now Get Plan B

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Old enough to see an R rated movie? Then you’re now old enough to get the morning after pill over-the-counter. Today the FDA announced the Plan B contraceptive will be made available to anyone 17 or older without a prescription. This is in response to a recent federal court ruling which criticized the executive branch’s handling of the controversial pharmaceutical.

The change isn’t huge. The previous age for over-the-counter purchase was 18. But do not doubt that the Obama administration will not have the problems with this rule that the Bush administration had. Many abortion opponents consider the morning-after-pill to be no different than an abortion and Bush was sympathetic to those worries. Obama, on the other hand, is decidedly liberal on the abortion issue.

Of course, much of the debate comes down to when you think life begins. Is it fertilization? Implantation? The moment of “quickening” notoriously laid out in Roe v. Wade? For some people, the matter is clear-cut. After fertilization or even after potential fertilization, any interference is immoral. For others, the woman’s rights supersede the right of the unborn up to and, in some instances, beyond the point of viability outside the womb. But I think, for most people, the issue is not so clear cut.

My views on abortion are complex and too complicated to effectively describe in a blog post. But I will say that I support Plan B contraceptive. Mistakes happen, either out of foolish moments of passion or failure of other contraceptive devices. Plan B allows for otherwise responsible people to remain responsible and not have a child they don’t want or can’t care for. It’s not perfect. But doing nothing and waiting to see if pregnancy results creates even greater problems and deeper moral dilemmas. It’s easy to draw bright lines, but it’s not always what’s best for a responsible society.

Now, if you are adamant that life begins at the moment of fertilization and that doing anything to inhibit implantation is morally reprehensible, then there’s nothing I can say. But if you believe that preventing unwanted pregnancies necessitates certain compromises, then over-the-counter Plan B is a reasonable policy. At least that’s my conclusion.