The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Progressive Heresy: Why Plan B Logically Should Not Be Available Over-the-Counter

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On the issue of abortion and reproductive rights, the Democratic Party and the left have a gag-reflex to any sort of restrictions of any sort, regardless of their validity. Granted these are important issues, and this author supports a woman’s access to safe, legal abortions. However, in the battle over Plan B, the left is being intellectually dishonest.

First, this author does not believe Plan B causes an abortion. It merely prevents fertilization. Nor does this author believe that human life begins at the moment of conception. It is the drug itself that poses a problem. Plan B is simply a higher dose of the hormones that are in oral contraception. However, oral contraception requires a doctor’s prescription, as well as visits and checkups every three months. It simply makes no sense to make a higher dose of prescription drugs available over the counter.

This argument is too often used by individuals with an underlying intent to keep women from seeking control over their reproductive systems and undermining family planning. However, it also has some validity. The hormones in normal oral contraceptives can have dangerous effects on the cardiovascular system, interact badly with nicotine and cigarettes and can be dangerous to people with cardiovascular-related diseases like hypertension, and diabetes. Current policy treats these drugs as they should be treated – to be used under the supervision of a physician.

Again, there is a valid and compelling interest in allowing women emergency access to these drugs as quickly as possibly, and it often takes time to get a physicians’ prescription. At the same time, a valid case can be made that a stronger dose of oral contraceptives should not simply be made over the counter. A solution is for federal law to require every Emergency Room, and medical facility with a physician on hand to stock the drug. The law should require that ERs and physicians prescribe the drug upon request, if there are no mitigating medical circumstances or conditions present. If pharmacists or doctors refuse on moral grounds, the medical facility must get another pharmacist to dispense the drug or a doctor to prescribe it. If a woman believes that a physician is unjustly withholding the drug, she has the right to a second opinion from a different physician at the same medical facility if possible. Hospitals, medical centers and doctors refusing to prescribe Plan B to women would face a loss of license.

Of course, the other option is to simply make it over-the-counter, a move that this author does not necessarily oppose. However, at the same time, those advocating the immediate availability of these drugs as over-the-counter should at least consider that there are valid reasons that the lower-dose versions require a prescription, and the higher dose versions should as well. People who believe this are not necessarily regressive social conservatives who want to ensure that the woman’s place is in the kitchen, and the maternity ward. They may be progressive or independent-thinking individuals who are perplexed by the logic that a higher-dose of a currently prescription-only drug should be available unregulated by doctors.

-E. Desiderius

Posted by George Gordon | Saturday, April 08, 2006 | E-mail this post

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