Yesterday the FDA approved plans to sell emergency contraception over the counter to anyone over the age of 15. This is a good thing, but it is not in compliance with a federal ruling that ordered Plan B be available to ANYONE who walks into a CVS and buys it. To quote the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “The medical evidence demonstrates that EC is safe and effective in preventing pregnancy for all reproductive-age females.” ALL females. ALL.
When I was a teen, before I had my state-issued driver’s license, I relied on these thin plastic cards to get discounts at the Southdale movie theater:
Don’t I look awesome? Matt calls it my Julia Cafritz period, but my ferocity was all an act. Inside I was a trembling, anxious, fearful mess. My contraception was my mother’s insistence that should I require it, she would be only too happy to help me procure some. This embarrassed me into celibacy until I left for college (though my scowl may have been a contributing factor).
Yesterday’s announcement is a small step forward for girls like the one in the plastic card pictured above. We cannot forget, however, that the arbitrary identification requirement is a serious barrier for people who don’t look like her. With this policy in place, 13-year-olds and undocumented women can purchase Tylenol and Robitussin, both extremely toxic in large doses, but they cannot buy Plan B. Why?
Conservatives who protest the availability of condoms in high school health clinics are suddenly horrified that Plan B doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. The drum of “parents’ rights” is beaten long and loud. Safe, FDA-approved medications are “dangerous.” Human sexuality is scary and wrong. There is no right to premarital, non-procreative sex. Since no one fears eternal damnation these days, fear of pregnancy needs to keep kids out of each others’ pants.
This has not been one of my happiest parenting weeks. I received some very disappointing news about my son’s grades, which led Matt and me to have THAT TALK with him. While he curled into a surly ball in the corner of the couch, a very familiar scowl on his face, I could almost hear the thought “this sucks” rattling around his teenage brain. While my mouth was blabbering all the Very Important Lessons that my son needed to learn about his school responsibilities, inside my head I was thinking the same goddamn thing: “this sucks!”
So much about parenting sucks. It sucks to be the bad guy all the time, it sucks to clean up all the messes, both emotional and literal, it sucks to send the person you love the most in the world to the place you hated the most in the world (middle school). It also sucks that there is tremendous social pressure to say WHY NO, PARENTING DOES NOT SUCK AT ANY TIME EVER, IN FACT IT IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME.
Which it is, of course, but it’s not a gig for the faint of heart or the unprepared. It really needs to be your Plan A.
If all sex can’t be planned, at least parenthood ought to be. A person’s ability to decide her future, whether it’s Plan A, B or C, ought not to depend whether she has an ID card in her pocket.