Column: Practicality over morality

By Todd Swiss

In an age when women have more rights than ever, it would seem that emergency contraception would be something readily available. The morning-after pill, also known as the Plan B pill, is not available for over the counter consumption even though it is completely safe. Basically, the Plan B pill is used when a couple’s chosen form of contraception fails in some way, or if women have had unplanned or unprotected sex. It is also used when a woman has been raped and does not want to get pregnant.

Now, I would understand the Food and Drug Administration’s reasoning for keeping a drug available only from a doctor if the drug had some possibly serious side effects or if people became insanely addicted to it. But, that is not the case. The scientific advisors at the FDA say that Plan B is completely safe for women. So why do women have to continue to go through the ordeal of a doctor’s visit? The only reason the FDA is still disallowing Plan B from being sold in drugstores is that some people believe that it should not be sold to girls under the age of 17 without parental consent. Withholding a drug from over-the-counter sale for purely moral reasons is a disservice to the public.

Critics of the Plan B pill say that letting girls under the age of 17 purchase the drug over-the-counter, without parental consent, will cause a rise in sexual activity of that specific age group. This is not only wrong, but completely ludicrous. People saying that 16-year-old girls will have sex just because they could buy a pill is ignorance at its worst. 16-year-olds do not think of situations like that. They do something that they want to do and think about the consequences later. This is why 16-year-olds should have the right to buy the pill. Additionally, the last thing a 16-year-old girl wants to tell her parents is that she is having sex. If it is not available to teenagers this young, we will just end up with the same amount of teen pregnancies.

Many women in America do not have health insurance. These women would have to pay the full doctor’s fee. After paying the doctor’s fee (which is usually at least 50 dollars), they have to go in and tell their doctor about their sex life. In many cases, this problem of a potential pregnancy is not only an expensive one, but humiliating as well. Even if a woman has health insurance, she still has to make an appointment with her doctor, go to the doctor’s office, and pay a minimal fee that nearly every insurance company requires. While it is easier on the pocketbook to only be charged a ten or fifteen dollar co-payment, it is still not ideal by any means.

People are very busy. Not many people have an extra couple of hours to burn during the hours that a doctor’s office is open. Most doctors have the same working hours that people in the business world have. Many women have to make the choice to either lose money by going into work late or be inconvenienced by being forced to stay late to make up for the time lost while at the doctor. Even on this campus, it is a hassle to see a doctor at McKinley. While I do not support promiscuous behavior, it is a fact of life on campus. People go to the bars, get drunk, and do things that they may regret in the morning. McKinley is the major source of health care for all 40,000 students on campus. Having less people come in for a drug that should be sold at drug stores would surely be appreciated by the McKinley staff.

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Plan B should not be withheld from drugstores any longer. Having it in stores will save many women time and money, the two most valuable things in the world today.