Shame on Obama and Sebelius. This isn’t like the compromises on reproductive freedom in the ACA, which were necessary to appease fanatical anti-choicers who were in a position to blow up the legislation. This is an indefensible decision that wasn’t in any sense politically necessary, and indeed might be politically counterproductive. Appalling.
But there is no honest public-health reason to force teenage girls to see a doctor before accessing emergency contraception. There are only political ones. (The morning-after pill will still be available at pharmacies without a prescription for women over 17.)
So what happened? Although it’s hard to believe that conservative voters would be particularly swayed by the president’s capitulation on this front, teen sex has always had a special place in paternalistic and politicized approaches to public health. It doesn’t matter that teenagers can, and do, get pregnant (or contract sexually transmitted diseases) just like women over 17. They still have to be “protected” by parental-notification laws about abortion or from comprehensive, scientifically grounded information about sex. Politically speaking, teenagers aren’t exactly a powerful voting bloc — but their terrified parents are presumed to be.