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Can We Ignore Obama’s Plan B Diversion, Please?

[ 66 ] December 11, 2011 |

I buried this at the end of another post, but according to the most recent data I could find, of the roughly 758,000 teen pregnancies a year 212 of these involved girls 12 and younger.   If you’re getting into a debate about Plan B and 12-year-olds you’re being played for a sucker.   The relevant Plan B debate is about 15- and 16-year olds, and people who are bringing up the 0% of teenage pregnancies among 11-year-olds are trying to make paternalistic regulations seem more reasonable.  (Which, of course, should not imply that making it more difficult for the infinitesimal number of 12-year-olds who get pregnant to get emergency contraception is anything but a terrible idea.)

 

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  1. Mo says:

    And, of course, if a 10 or 11 year old is being repeatedly raped by a man who is dosing her with PlanB afterwards to make sure she doesn’t get pregnant, what we really should be worrying about is the potential dangers of the extra hormone doses.

    And no one was pointing out that for a medication that needs to be taken within 72 hours, forcing everyone to obtain it only during pharmacy operating hours is a serious impediment.

    It’s like they don’t realize that fear of birth control is being used to derail health care reform.

    • Exactly. As you note, the under-12 set that’s, ugh, “sexually active”, looks a lot different than 16, 15, 14, and hell, even 13-year-olds having sex. Most of the very young girls are being exploited by adult men who can buy Plan B without a prescription. This ruling only affects teenagers who are having age-appropriate, consensual relationships.

      • Well, mainly. I mean, it does affect rape victims who are afraid to speak out, too. But no matter how you slice it, the notion that getting pregnant is the best option for any of these groups is baffling. The rule of thumb that I follow is that getting pregnant for someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant is bad 100% of the time. Duh.

    • wiley says:

      I pointed out the unpleasantness of the hormonal effect in order to bring into the conversation the fact that most women aren’t going to rely solely on Plan B. And because there are and should be other options for abortion. Many posters here were speaking as if girls/women should or invariably would know they were pregnant within 72 hours and resort to Plan B lest they be branded irresponsible.

      It’s good news that the number of girls getting pregnant that young is small. It is, however, a small subset of the number of girls (and boys) who are being raped/sexually abused; and I think it would be a mistake to completely dismiss the possibility that the problem of very young pregnant girls could more easily be swept under the rug with an over-the-counter drug.

      It is a fact that girls as young as twelve are used as “prostitutes” (i.e. forcibly raped by multiple men) and I don’t think that that needs to be swept away with a declaration of “small numbers” or “it’s better that they use the pill than stay pregnant longer than 72 hours”. There are other options for abortions, some of them including social services that would remove young girls from situations in which they are being raped.

      Obviously all girls/women should not be lumped together as one category of problem pregnancies for their own good.

      • Zaewen says:

        Plan B is not an abortion pill nor can it cause an abortion. Its simply a huge dose of birth control hormones to stop ovulation from happening while sperm remains in the reproductive tract. Which is why it must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

        • wiley says:

          Thank you for pointing that out to me. I had no idea. And after what I just said, the importance of informing me about what Plan B is, cannot be overestimated. We can’t refer to a pharmaceutical agent that ends pregnancy as being abortive lest the right-wing men have control over the language of women’s and girl’s bodies and the reproductive decisions we make instead of liberal men.

          • T. Paine says:

            The illogic here is truly something to behold:
            (1) Plan B doesn’t “end a pregnancy,” so it’s not an abortifacient. Your failure to understand basic science doesn’t provide a good reason to prevent women (of any age) from buying Plan B over the counter;

            (2) “[Young girls] forcibly raped by multiple men.” Perhaps you missed it up thread, but adult men can buy Plan B without a prescription. Or do you imagine that these victimized children will also be sent down to the corner CVS to pick up some milk and Plan B, without any of these notional criminals watching them? Seriously, this whole line of supposition is so unrealistic and irrational that I think you’re trolling;

            (3) While your sentence is written confusingly, it seems you’re suggesting that either both right wingers and “liberal men” want to control women’s bodies. Unless you’re referring to Saletan et al, you’re wrong. The pro-choice people writing here (men AND women) explicitly or implicitly DON’T want control over women’s bodies, and also want the State to give up any control it asserts as well.

            • wiley says:

              IT ENDS PREGNANCY. WOMEN AND GIRLS GET THE MORNING AFTER PILL TO END THE STATE OF BEING PREGNANT SO THAT THEY DON’T CONTINUE TO BE PREGNANT AND AREN’T REQUIRED TO TAKE OTHER MEASURES TO END THE PREGNANCY, GIVEN THAT NATURE ITSELF DOES NOT TAKE CARE OF IT FOR THEM.

              Can you follow that? When you’re a woman, and you think you’re pregnant, the SCIENCE doesn’t mean a fucking thing, really. What matters is that you think you’re pregnant, you have to decide whether or not you want to be, and you have to decide what to do about that.

              Is that too difficult for you? Is that not scientific enough? Perhaps more women should ask SCIENTISTS how to feel about their pregnancies.

              I’VE BEEN PREGNANT THREE TIMES, MOTHERFUCKER. I’VE HAD TWO ABORTIONS, AND ONE FULL-TERM PREGNANCY, AND HAVE BEEN USING BIRTH CONTROL FOR THIRTY FIVE YEARS—ALL KINDS OF BIRTH CONTROL. YOU CAN STUFF YOUR SCIENTIFICALLY SUPERIOR THINKING UP YOUR ASS.

              Was that clear enough for you? Or should I parse some sentences for you?

              There were responses to the possibility of eleven year old girls going to the drugstore to get the morning after pill to the effect that that should be unchallenged because it was better that she end the pregnancy quickly and easily. If it bothers you so much that I assert that it is not really o.k. for pregnant eleven year old girls— regardless of how FEW of them there are— to just end their pregnancies quietly (like that boy in the shower with Sandusky was just engaging in sexual activity, right?) without the intervention of responsible adults to find out WHY an eleven year old girl is pregnant (rather than just assuming that she’s “sexually active” because she’s a slut) then maybe the problem is with YOUR understanding, and your insistence that you have ALL the answers, because you assert the supremacy of science here, and that this messy problem with females and their messy pregnancies can be put down with a few snappy phrases to sum up every impregnable female in the country in as pithy a manner as possible so that we can move on to some IMPORTANT issues.

              This is just another example— like Sandusky’s enablers— where, for some reason, a lot of men have a shocking lack of interest in protecting children from male predators.

              • Anonymous says:

                IT ENDS PREGNANCY.

                This is simply false. It prevents pregnancy from occurring.

              • ema says:

                IT ENDS PREGNANCY. WOMEN AND GIRLS GET THE MORNING AFTER PILL TO END THE STATE OF BEING PREGNANT SO THAT THEY DON’T CONTINUE TO BE PREGNANT….

                I’m not sure if you’re saying that this what young users mistakenly believe or if you’re asserting it as fact, but just to be clear. ECPs prevent pregnancy; they have no effect on an established pregnancy.

                ECPs do not terminate a pregnancy. Other drugs, like methotrexate and misoprostol, do. And mifepristone (RU-486), depending on dosage and regimen, can either prevent a pregnancy or terminate it.

                Also, this:

                I assert that it is not really o.k. for pregnant [sexually active] eleven year old girls— regardless of how FEW of them there are— to just end their pregnancies [prevent a pregnancy] quietly … without the intervention of responsible adults to find out WHY an eleven year old girl is pregnant [sexually active]….

                • wiley says:

                  Jesus fucking Christ you people are stupid with your scientific knowledge.

                  Okay, you take the morning after pill to PREVENT pregnancy. Does that have anything to do with a female going to take a drug to keep herself from being pregnant, because if she didn’t take the drug she might continue with her pregnancy.

                  Or might not because a lot of pregnancies don’t continue beyond the first 72 hours—intervention or no— but when you’re a woman with a POTENTIAL PREGNANCY that YOU have to deal with— that YOU have to bear the consequences of — YOU are FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES PREGNANT, AND IF YOU WANT TO END IT YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION, SOONER OR LATER, if you don’t have the good fortune of having an unwanted pregnancy ended by nature.

                  If a woman chooses to wait to see if the implantation does happen and begins to develop into a blastocyst and then a fetus, then– IN THE WOMAN’S MIND—she’s STILL PREGNANT.

                  On the earlier thread there was someone suggesting that if the woman didn’t intervene in the first 72 hours then she was likely to just blow it off until it became a REAL problem, as if women had a mechanism in them that informed them that the sperm met the egg within 72 hours of having sex.

                  If the quest to fight Republican messaging about abortion and the morning after pill is leading to a discussion of pregnancy for women AND eleven year ikd girls as a series of being in various stages of biological status instead of being a rather necessarily subjective state for women to be in—and an extremely questionable state for an eleven year old girl to be in— that is WHY Roe vs. Wade and privacy are such important issues—these choices are very personal and have a profound effect on a woman’s life and body— We should have our choices because we are adults who are citizens who are entitled to our rights and control over our bodies.

                  Eleven year old girls aren’t entitled to that, for good reason. And eleven year old girls are NOT women.

                  It’s sad to see Republican fetus worshiping, male-dominating bullshit that attempts to control our lives refuted with an argument that dismisses pregnancy among eleven year old girls as not being significant because of the numbers, instead of framing it as an important and separate issue.

                  This obsessing over the biological status of the potential fetus focuses on the mass of cells just a little bit less than the anti-choice nutters.

                  Pregnancy—all stages of it are subjective experiences for women, who should have the right to manage it as they see fit for their benefit, and is completely inappropriate for eleven year old girls, no matter how few eleven year girls have been impregnated.

                  Thanks for the biology lesson though. I don’t know how I’ve dealt with three pregnancies without it, or how I knew exactly where, when, and with whom I got pregnant. Or that I even know HOW I got pregnant without all this precious scientific insight.

                  What pals you guys are.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  I still fail to see why we’re having a discussion about 11-year-olds at all. They represent a less-than-trivial percentage of the young and adult women affected by the regulations upheld. Once all women 14 or older have OTC access to Plan B we can discuss how to deal with the .0002% of non-adult pregnancies that occur among girls 12 or under. (I will still disagree that interposing a doctor and pharmacist between any woman and emergency contraception makes any sense, but at least we won’t be discussing regulations that are ludicrously overbroad given the alleged objectives.)

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Jesus fucking Christ you people are stupid with your scientific knowledge.

                  Not a promising opening line.

            • wiley says:

              prevent women (of any age)

              It’s right fucking there, pal. An eleven year old girl is NOT a “woman.” That’s the kind of thinking that pedophiles do. She’s bleeding—I can FUCK the BITCH.

  2. sparks says:

    But using one’s daughter politically solely to derive some specious electoral benefit is easier than addressing the real issue of the consequences of hetero teen sexytime being borne by only one half the participants. The most feared phrase in political circles is, “s/he was courageous”. He’s not a Janus like Romney, but if you poke him politically (from the right, anyway), does he not bleed strawberry-banana gelatin? At this rate, Obama won’t need to run for reelection, he could just have Bill Cosby shill for him in a series of commercials with the jingle O-B-A-M-A!

    • Ed says:

      But using one’s daughter politically solely to derive some specious electoral benefit is easier than addressing the real issue of the consequences of hetero teen sexytime being borne by only one half the participants.

      As the father of Sasha and Malia, and indeed, the Father of Us All, Obama knows best.

  3. sherifffruitfly says:

    Really? Limiting the availability of hormone pills to 12 years is a horrible idea?

    Will you still say that as soon as some dumbass 12 year old (and ALL 12 year olds are dumbasses – that’s why they’re called “kids”) passes along the sage medical advice to her friend “I heard that Plan B makes your boobs grow bigger!” ?

    Many things that are “safe when used as directed” have restrictions for kids. Because kids are too dumb to use the shit as directed. Again, that’s why they’re called “kids”.

    • Malaclypse says:

      They don’t need Plan B to get size enhancements – they need merely to open any spam e-mail folder.

    • McAllen says:

      While we’re at it maybe we should ban sale of lipstick to teens to prevent rainbow parties.

    • DrDick says:

      Obviously there are many who are no longer kids who also “are too dumb to use shit as directed”. You know, like their brains or the internet.

    • ema says:

      Really? Limiting the availability of hormone pills to 12 years is a horrible idea?

      Yes, limiting the availability of levonorgestrel (an equivalent of the body’s progesterone) in this instance is a bad idea.

      Will you still say that as soon as some dumbass 12 year old (and ALL 12 year olds are dumbasses – that’s why they’re called “kids”) passes along the sage medical advice to her friend “I heard that Plan B makes your boobs grow bigger!” ?

      The FDA’s panel of experts already said the drug is OK for OTC use. It’s up to you, Secretary Sebelius, and President Obama to present scientific evidence to the contrary.

      Many things that are “safe when used as directed” have restrictions for kids.

      Forget many, name just one OTC drug with similar restrictions.

    • Mo says:

      It’s a horrible idea if it means that it will be unavailable to teens and far less easily available to adult women than it should be.

    • Helen says:

      It’s quite possible to die quite horribly from simple over-the-counter paracetamol. I don’t hear of hordes of twelve-year-olds dying from paracetamol abuse. This is eyerollingly stupid.

    • Njorl says:

      While I think you’re wrong, for the reasons stated above, I must admit that this was also my first reaction. I think the people who want to tar and feather you are going a bit too far.

      It’s reasonable to have an instant gut reation to be protective of children. The problem in this case is that what seems superficially to be protective, isn’t. The ban protects children from nothing.

      The purpose of the ban is to give parents one more chance to find out if their kids are having sex. While one could argue the relative merits of that, I don’t think any possible benefit outweighs inflicting an unwanted pregnancy on a child.

  4. Yeah, we need to force pregnancy on unwilling girls because someone has a paranoid fear that girls will use a $50 drug in a way they just made up off the top of their heads.

  5. T. Paine says:

    @sherifffruitfly
    I look forward to hearing all about your passionate and demanding campaign to prevent “kids” from buying Tylenol, a drug that’s actually deadly when used incorrectly.

    Also, nice misogyny! You assume young women are (a) too stupid to know Plan B won’t change their bodies and (b) too vain to care.

  6. wengler says:

    This is so stupid because it hurts people for no reason other than poorly perceived political benefit.

  7. Vance Maverick says:

    My one quibble with this post is its title. Yes, the business about 11-year-olds is BS. But I strongly object to my government making BS policy arguments, and we should not ignore the fact that they’re making arguments that should be ignored.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Fair.

    • Ed says:

      But I strongly object to my government making BS policy arguments, and we should not ignore the fact that they’re making arguments that should be ignored.

      And by making these terrible arguments they give them the force of government endorsement. The negative effect on the public discourse regarding Plan B are already evident, with otherwise intelligent people repeating Sebelius’ nonsense.

  8. wiley says:

    I started looking into “Progressive” political movements during the 2008 election campaigns. Spent a lot of time at Think Progress and Yglesias initially, then delurked here (I was reading LG&M regularly before 2008) and I noticed, especially at Yglesias, that whenever he linked to an article at Jezebel or Bitch PhD or any other decidedly feminist website that the overwhelming majority of self-declared Progressive men bragged about how they don’t bother with such “garbage” and other dismissive terms.

    I have found the Progressive movement to be a refresh of eighties misogyny with an added “look at my link, I’m smarter and more feminist than than you are because I use evidence and studies, and none of that anecdotal experience from life as a woman that is so unscientific and unsound for the linear arguments that are the only kind of proof of one’s seriousness”.

    It might do the movement some good, if, instead of congratulating itself on how much it represents women and how much better it does so than the right-wing or the mainstream Democratic Party; it might be wise to ask if the Progressive movement actually does represent and welcome women as much as the Democratic party as a whole. From where I’m sitting—on my female ass— the Progressive movement on the whole, in the main, doesn’t really have much to offer women besides pat advice and condescension, and the occasional link.

    • Pamoya says:

      Your argument is that supporting over-the-counter plan B for all ages is anti-feminist? Allowing women, including teens, control over their own bodies is anti-feminist? Please get over yourself. An opinion doesn’t automatically become feminist because it is a woman holding the opinion.

      On the contrary, I think that easily accessible birth control is at the *core* of feminism.

      • wiley says:

        Your argument is that you haven’t heard a fucking word I’ve said,possibly because you have such a strong investment in “proving” something that you don’t LISTEN.

        • T. Paine says:

          We understand what you’re saying, it just makes no fucking sense:
          (paraphrasing here)
          1. “I repeat stupid rightwing talking points that birth control = abortion;”
          2. “If you argue against me, you hate women, because I’m a woman;”
          3. “Anyone who thinks people 11 and up should be able to buy Plan B OTC support child rape, probably want to or are raping children, and also disrespects women”
          4. “MOTHERFUCKER!!1!one1!!!

          So, a dog’s breakfast of illogic and ad homimen attacks. The reason no one listens to you is because these are stupid arguments.

    • Anonymous says:

      A bunch of blogs do not the “Progressive Movement” make.

  9. MikeJake says:

    You know, if they wanted to restrict minors’ access to Plan B, they could just regulate them like cigarettes. Make them OTC, but require buyers to show their ID at the pharmacy counter and prove they’re 18 or older. It wouldn’t totally prevent minors from getting the pills without their parents knowing, but it would be better than nothing.

    • Mockingbird says:

      That is how it’s done. It’s not out on the shelves, it’s behind the counter and you have to ask the pharmacist for it. In theory the pharmacist would counsel the buyer on proper use and side effects, but I’m not sure what training they are given.

    • Anonymous says:

      Uh, yeah, that’s exactly what’s going on, and that’s the problem! We don’t think it should be restricted in the first place. Nor does the FDA. We want minors – and adults – to have unrestricted access. (Because make no mistake – requiring adults to show ID and request it from a pharmacist DOES restrict access to adults in many ways.)

  10. Joseph Slater says:

    Ridiculously pedantic point: how could the pregnancy of 11 or 12 year olds count in “teen” preganancy stats? Or is “teen” a term of art in these studies that means something other than “an age that ends in the suffix ‘teen’”?

    It’s semi-substantive, because, as folks have noted, 16-17 year olds are pretty different from 11-12 year olds.

    • wiley says:

      It appears that soon as a girl enters menses that she’s both “fair game” and that she is also capable of making medical decisions for herself. Shit. Might as well give her a driver’s license and let her vote— must be mommy-magic.

      • Njorl says:

        I certainly don’t think that way. In a perfect world the 11-year old kid would get good guidance from her parents.

        In the real world, the person most likely to be in control of the kid’s medical decisions is the person who got her pregnant.

        There is no doubt that when an 11-year old is in danger of becomming pregnant, something is terribly wrong. Society should be doing its best to stop it. It’s also true that if an 11-year old is able to deal with that potential pregnancy on her own, that we are less likely to be able to deal with the root cause. But we have to weigh the harms against each other.

        Your argument boils down to: An increased chance of pregnancy from the rape of a child is worthwhile if it increases the chance of catching the rapist. I don’t think your argument should be dismissed out of hand, but I do think it is wrong.

  11. cpinva says:

    so, anything else new on the political front?

    If you’re getting into a debate about Plan B and 12-year-olds you’re being played for a sucker.

    we (meaning, we, the american public) have been getting played for suckers since richard nixon announced he had a plan to end the vietnam war, but he had to be elected president, before he would tell us what it was. we’ve been pretty much circling the drain since.

  12. Voice of reason says:

    Is everybody brainwashed so much that they’ve forgotten who Mae this decision? Who overrode the FDA?
    It appears that this administration can do as it pleases without any repercussions or blame.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Do your mighty reasoning capabilities preclude reading the fourth word in the post title?

      • elm says:

        I can’t speak for the Voice, but the tenth word of his response has now totally distracted me into thoughts of Mae West. What are discussing here again?

        • Michael H Schneider says:

          I think we’re disussing whether chicken should be sold otc, because
          a. some 11 year olds may think that eating chicken treated with hormones will cause breast enlargement; and
          b. some 11 year olds may think that eating chicken causes breast enlargement by the principles of sympathetic magic (eating buxom chicken will make you buxom – hey, it works for Kuru).

          Protecting kids from chicken is currently being blocked by the pharma-chicken complex. Personally, I’m still concerned whether calling a life vest a “Mae West” is offensive if done in mixed compay.

  13. TG Chicago says:

    [O]f the roughly 758,000 teen pregnancies a year 212 of these involved girls 12 and younger.

    Well… no. There were zero teen pregnancies involving girls 12 and under in every year in history. Girls 12 and under aren’t teens.

    But more importantly (well, a little) your numbers don’t seem to fit the data you linked to. I’m seeing 208 births to girls 10-12 in 2002 out of the 7315 births to girls 10-14.

    That compares to the 757,000 pregnancies among teens 15-19; 425,000 of those pregnancies resulted in births. If that ratio holds out for 10-12 year olds (no idea if it would), then there would be around 370 pregnancies among 10-12 year olds.

    I’m not suggesting that this has much impact on your actual point, though. Just want to double-check to be sure the numbers are right.

    • Njorl says:

      I wouldn’t expect the rates to be uniform over age. I would expect more abortions and miscarriages in the younger girls. This would make the percentage of pregnancies even higher. The percentage would still be very small, though.

      I don’t think it is right to consider it “trivial”, though. Some could argue we execute a “trivial” number of innocent people. I wouldn’t buy that argument. I disagree with Obama’s argument, and believe it was an entirely political move, but I think nothing is gained by saying the number of 11-12 year olds becoming pregnant is trivial.

  14. [...] thing even more ludicrous, the President openly invoked a red herring, scaring Americans with the vanishingly small number of pre-teens who are sexually active, instead of addressing the actual 15- and 16-year-olds who would make up [...]

  15. [...] in girls as young as 11—despite the fact that the number of 11-year-olds who get pregnant is vanishingly small. And, of course, allowing that tiny minority—only around 200 pregnancies each year involve girls [...]

  16. [...] in girls as young as 11—despite the fact that the number of 11-year-olds who get pregnant is vanishingly small. And, of course, allowing that tiny minority—only around 200 pregnancies each year involve girls [...]

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