The Birds and the Plan Bs
There are precious few areas where FRC and the Obama administration agree--and this morning, a district judge tried to rob us of one of them: the age restrictions on Plan B sales. One of the few admirable things this President has done is resist pressure from his friends in the abortion movement to make the "morning-after pill" available to anyone--of any age--without a prescription. Naturally, the Planned Parenthoods of the world assumed that the Obama administration, headed by the most militant pro-abortion President in history, would go along with the idea.
They assumed wrong. About a year and a half ago, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that she was overruling the FDA in one of the most shocking decisions of the White House's term. Sebelius, one of the abortion movement's most reliable allies, agreed with groups like FRC that making Plan B as easy to buy as aspirin was a dangerous decision, especially for young girls. Like us, she thinks the FDA hasn't produced enough research to demonstrate that kids 16 and under can effectively and safely use the pills on their own. It was a rare moment of agreement between the White House and pro-lifers, who strongly oppose the drug for its life-destroying potential. (Even the pills' packaging warns that it can abort a pregnancy.) As the father of two girls, even President Obama sees the dangers of stocking Plan B "alongside the bubble gum or batteries."
Unfortunately for parents, District Court Judge Edward Korman doesn't believe in decisions based on reason and science, and instead injected himself into a debate that could have serious implications for America's daughters. Despite strong arguments from the Justice Department, Korman struck down HHS's ban, giving the agency 30 days to lift the age and sale restrictions on Plan B. Calling Sebelius's decision "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable," Korman insists that the morning-after pill "would be probably among the safest drugs approved for over-the-counter sale for the pediatric population" and claims "the Secretary does not define any harm that could result."
How's this for harm: young people under 25 are infected with about half of the sexually transmitted infections nationwide--and Plan B doesn't protect against a single one. Not only was Plan B found to have zero impact on teen pregnancy rates, but a 2010 study found that it's partially responsible for a spike in adolescent STIs. Making these pills available over-the-counter means that more girls will bypass their doctors' advice and the routine medical visits that screen for these diseases. That's why most developed countries (including Canada and the majority of Europe) require a prescription for kids. They understand what Edward Korman does not: that there is a legitimate danger in lining store shelves with a drug packed with four times the hormones of a single birth control pill and encouraging young girls to buy it without any supervision.
Even if an 11-year-old can access the pill, there's no guarantee that she'll use it correctly or responsibly. There's also a real danger that Plan B would be given to young girls (especially sexually abused children) under coercion or without their consent. Surely, moms and dads have a right to know that their daughters are considering the risks.
Meanwhile, abortion groups are fighting the administration as if it had outlawed Plan B altogether. (If only we were so lucky!) All Sebelius asks is that girls under 16 consult their doctors first. Until they do, Plan B should stay behind pharmacy counters--where it belongs. For more on the fallout from this ruling, watch for the Director of FRC's Center for Human Dignity, Anna Higgins, JD, on media across the country, including ABC's "World News Tonight" and on the CBS Evening News.
A Tough McNutt to Crack
If Texas A&M won't protect campus values, students will! That was the overwhelming feeling at an emotional student senate meeting late Wednesday night, when young leaders fought to pass a bill that would let co-eds opt out of funding the university's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Resource Center. After three hours of debate, which included lots of tears and angry discussion, leaders voted 35-28 to protect the conscience rights of any student who objected to the program on moral grounds.
Staring down his openly hostile peers, student Aaron Ackerman stood his ground and compared forcing students to pay for the homosexual center to forcing doctors to perform partial-birth abortions. "Our decision here is not going to reach that far," he said. "I just want to show how dangerous a philosophy is that some organization--government or otherwise--can make a person do what is against their most deeply held beliefs." Others, like the bill's co-author, Thomas McNutt, who, at one point, had to tell students to "just chill out and calm down," read from the First Amendment and the Texas Constitution to make his case.
Back in March, another student pointed out the inequality of it all. If the school wasn't going to match these funds with a traditional values center, students "should be able to choose whether to pay for it or not." Despite an outburst of profanity and other senate leaders storming out, McNutt and Ackerman prevailed--and showed great courage in the process. For now, the proposal is in the hands of the student body president, where we hope he recognizes the fundamental right to freedom.
What to Expect When No One's Expecting!
Is the world overpopulated? The good news is a resounding "no!" For proof, you can visit FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), or watch yesterday's lecture with Weekly Standard writer Jonathan Last. Jonathan is the author of new book, What to Expect When No One is Expecting. The facts are sobering and can be summarized in five words: We aren't having enough children. Jonathan argues that the Left's anti-kid agenda is beginning to have a devastating impact on the global economy, families, and future of our country. Although the topic is dead serious, Jonathan's good humor makes the lecture also highly entertaining. Watch it here:
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.