Plan B should remain restricted for young girls: 7 reasons why

The reasons given to permit girls' unfettered access to Plan B usurps parental rights and are all flawed: Here's why. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013 — Within hours after the Federal Drug Administration ruled to girls as young as 15 over-the-counter access to the morning after emergency contraception pill, the Obama administration filed papers taking the opposition position. The administration asked for a stay of a federal judge’s 2011 decision that would permit the drug’s availability to all girls starting this Sunday. 

Actually, Judge Edward Korman, this April 2013 overturned Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius December 2011 decision to strike FDA’s decision to make the pill available on shelves to all girls. The pill prohibits implantation of a fertilized egg available as an on the shelf, not over-the-counter drug. Then FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the pill’s manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals presented adequate“science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of childbearing potential.”

But as President Obama stated in a follow up interview on the topic, “Kathleen made this decision” because she was not confident “that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect. And I think most parents would probably feel the same way.”

Plan B access helps teens to hide promiscuity from parents

Here! Here! There are many people without children and without daughters who are butting in and sharing their opinions that perhaps would not be the same if they did have kids.  Also, those with liberal opinions that are more accepting of a society where kids are freely having sex, seem interested in forcing their positions and free-thinking “do whatever” attitudes and usurping the rights of parents who do not want their children to have unfettered access to a drug that prevents pregnancy. 

As could be imagined, there has been much chatter online, at watercoolers and in chatrooms on this topic this week.

Given the Politics of Raising Children’s past support of Sebelius, here are 5 answers to those supporting unfettered access to the pills for children as young as 10 or 11.

  1. If a child can have sex then she should have access to means to prevent pregnancy – Not all children who have sex are doing so willingly. Some are subjected to child predators or perhaps are being pressured by an older boyfriend and possibly a man committing statutory rape. Others are victims of incest. In any event, a kid that young should be focused on school, their future, sports and activities and if they are having unprotected sex, there’s nothing like a pregnancy scare to give parents’ a wake up opportunity to intervene back in their daughter’s life  and address whatever is going on. And should we really be advocating for children having unprotected sex?
  2. Condoms are available on the shelves without an ID, why not Plan B? – The pill must be ingested and there are side effects that include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, menstrual changes, dizziness, breast tenderness, vomiting and diarrhea. The effects are way more intense than the impact of a condom.
  3. Girls are better able to control their bodies and have rights over their reproductive health. Um, no. At age 10, 11 or 12 or even 15, parents are responsible for their children’s health. They have to take them to the doctor’s if they are ill and buy most of their medicine when they become sick. Should a child have to be hospitalized for a serious condition, she would be at the mercy of her parents to get insurance or foot the bill for the care.  Further, children are under their parents’ domain and guidance until they can make reasonable judgment that comes with age and experience. What’s the deal with burdening children with pressures without help or assistance? A parent is also in the position to provide mental care or guide the child to clergy or other educational programs to help them make better decisions next time.
  4. Kids are having sex anyway and therefore should have access to all of the available birth control options available – While it is true kids are having sex, condoms are still a better birth control tool to Plan B. There could be more instances of a boy convincing his girlfriend to give into unprotected sex promising the withdrawal method knowing that if something goes wrong, plan B is always an option. Unprotected sex equals venereal disease and things like HIV and AIDS.
  5. The pill cost up to $40 and is cost-prohibitive to teens anyway – Not true. Teens will find a way to get access.  They have 72 hours to scrounge up money from friends when they could easily and more quickly go to their parents or some other adult family member in their lives for the money to get it for them.  That humbling moment to reach out to a parent would open up a door, if it didn’t already exist, for a parent to learn that their young daughter is sexually active.
  6. Teens ought to be empowered to not engage in risky unprotected sex.


  7. Better have access to plan B than a baby and continuing the cycle of poverty – Actually, according to a 2010 study, wealthy girls had more abortions (80%) than girls from low-income households, (30%). It’s a faulty presumption that Plan B is a solution for poor teens and it also presupposes that only poor kids have unprotected sex.  
  8. There are more dangerous drugs available on shelves, why not plan B? – First, while any easily-available drug can be abused, only Plan B is created for the sole purpose of preventing pregnancy if implantation hasn’t already concerned. And that drug is tied to sexual activity possibly by a child who maybe is too young and may have engaged in risky or irresponsible behavior to be put in that position in the first place.  Getting an opportunity to sneak behind a parents’ back eliminates the parenting authority and their ability to learn of the behavior.

At the end of the day, what’s needed more than anything is quality access to education for teens of both gender, along with practical instruction and guidance on how to exercise self-control of feelings and to be prideful and mindful of their bodies. A girl who is able to reject pressure from her boyfriend to have unprotected sex is empowered. Similarly, boys must be educated on valuing girls’ rights, bodies and their decisions. They have to respect “no.”   Many are aware of a condom which has an effected 98% rate and as the reproductive rights advocates have pointed out is widely available and in many clinics and other places for free.



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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site while authoring her own influential blog which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

Contact Jeneba Ghatt


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