President Obama continued to fight against access to birth control for young women yesterday by vowing to appeal a federal court ruling that would have made emergency birth control available over the counter to women of all ages. Instead, Obama wants to set a new minimum age of 15 (previously, thanks to a separate edict from the Obama administration, it was 17); girls under 15 would be required to get a doctor's prescription for the pill
Emergency contraception works by preventing ovulation or fertilization when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It is not abortion, and there is no scientific basis for age restrictions on access to the morning-after pill.
At the Nation, Jessica Valenti sums up several of the many reasons why Obama's political capitulation to anti-choice forces is bad for women. First, setting an age limit of 15 means that women will have to present government ID to prove their age at drugstore counters. That effectively puts over-the-counter EC off limits to most girls younger than 16 or those without government-issued ID.
Second, the age limit affirms the bizarre (but apparently common) notion that if we restrict access to birth control, kids will stop having sex. Valenti writes: "I think it’s fair to say that most people are uncomfortable with the idea of a 14-year-old having sex. But here’s the thing—access to Plan B isn’t about keeping a 14-year-old from having sex—by the time she gets to the pharmacy, that ship has sailed—it’s about keeping a 14-year-old who has already had sex from getting pregnant."
Opponents of allowing young women over-the-counter access to EC argue that girls under 15 are too young to understand how the morning-after pill works. Apparently, by that logic, those same girls are more than ready to become mothers of unwanted children. The mind reels.