A new plan for Plan B

Emergency contraceptives should be easily available.

by Hemang Sharma


“Think being a teen parent won’t cost you? Think again,” read a huge ad on the New York City subway. My first visit to the Big Apple and the historic Grand Central Station turned into a public service platform against teen pregnancy.

The sign, along with many others throughout the city and on the Internet, will manage to scare teenagers away from sexual activities that would end in pregnancies and, ultimately, be a burden on the parents and the state.

Unwanted pregnancies aren’t undesirable only to teenagers in a particular city or to specific people. They are the nightmares of young men and women who aren’t ready, willing and capable of raising a child. Teen parenthood can be a detriment to not only the child and its parents but also to taxpayers who then have to fund someone else’s offspring.

 An April Fools’ joke from a wonderful girl I met during spring break — in the form of a text message — read “I’m pregnant.” The prank sent my head spinning. For one long second, my thoughts went to being forced to give up my aspirations of joining the entertainment industry and getting some other job because I was required by state law to pay child support, sharing the cost of her pregnancy and being unable to seek the truth via paternity test on “Maury.” “Not funny!” I replied back.

Things happen; she forgets to take the birth control pill and only remembers that midway of your unprotected sexual excursion. Or your plan A, which is a condom, decides that you aren’t in the 99 percent, when they usually work just fine. The bottom line is she is pregnant, and something must be done.

That’s when Plan B, Ella and Next Choice come into play. Available without any prescription to women 17 and older, these pills work to impede the fertilization of the human egg for up to 120 hours of conception. Of course, they are most effective in the first 24 hours, hence, the term “morning-after pill.” They are lifesavers — quite literally, if an abortion is not a consideration.

A President Barack Obama administration action banned the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception to women under the age of 17, who would need a prescription. The reason behind making this pill a prescription only to people under 17 is irresponsible on the part of lawmakers, as it is for the teenagers who think they are ready to be parents.

Regardless of the ads I see on the subway, teenagers are sexually active and often not as careful in using protection. Due to many states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, etc. issuing ridiculous restrictions on abortions, it only makes sense to make these contraception methods readily available.

 I salute Federal District Court Judge Edward Korman  for ruling that Plan B be sold without a prescription or other restrictions to women of all ages. Korman’s opponent in this area is Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services, who overruled the FDA’s recommendation to make emergency contraception more readily available.

There are zealots who turn an important women’s issue into theological, philosophical and often political discussions — about when life actually begins, how moral is birth control to begin with, etc. — but these discussions, while important, need a realistic and respectful basis.

The tremendous delay in this decision is indicative of a broader failure of the system, encompassed by poor sexual education, lack of our ability to have a civil discourse and resolve issues in a timely manner.