Plan B’s age limit adds to teen pregnancy problem


This week a federal judge ordered the FDA to make Plan B One-Step, a brand of emergency contraceptive, available to women 15 and older without a prescription.
This is great – if this isn’t appealed by the FDA by May 5. This means that Plan B will be more readily available to teens between the ages of 15 and 18.
However, there shouldn’t be an age restriction on this in the first place.
America has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any country in the industrialized world. Unfortunately, this statistic includes teens from ages 13 to 15. The FDA should be doing anything and everything within their power to lower America’s teen pregnancy rate.
Clearly, there’s no age restriction on sex. And the average age of puberty is right around 11, meaning that kids become sexually curious at this time as well. The fact that Plan B is not available to under 15 year olds will not discourage kids from experimenting sexually.
Preventing under 15 year olds from purchasing Plan B could, instead of preventing sex, allow for an unwanted pregnancy. There are few pregnancies that are less wanted than ones involving an under 15 year old.
In addition, Plan B is expensive. There is little risk that teens would use Plan B as a regular contraception. Depending on where its purchased it can cost anywhere between $30 to $60. It doesn’t cost so much that its impossible for a teenager to purchase, but I doubt that any teen would prefer to purchase Plan B over a condom, which can cost as little as 50 cents per condom.
Not to mention, a person doesn’t need to be of a certain age to buy condoms. If the FDA is trying to prevent teen sex by making Plan B unavailable to those under 15, shouldn’t condoms also be made unavailable?
And what about sex education in schools? Should schools not talk to kids under the age of 15 about sex and how to have sex safely?
It’s worth noting that approximately 80 percent of teen moms end up on government welfare. So the FDA could be allocating government spending for girls who could have just spent the $40 on emergency contraception and prevented teen motherhood.
And then there’s the requirement that in order to prove one’s age upon purchasing emergency contraception, an I.D. is necessary. In urban areas, it is far less common for kids between the ages of 15 and 21 to have identification, because drivers’ licenses are less necessary, not to mention expensive.
So the FDA is not only preventing under 15-year-olds from accessing Plan B, but also those without identification. Before I had my driver’s license at age 16, I didn’t have an I.D. card with my birth date on it, and I doubt that I was the only one.
By preventing those under 15 and without an I.D. from purchasing Plan B, the FDA is effectively preventing two groups of women from acquiring Plan B, who are perhaps most needy in terms of contraception availability.

– Chapman is a senior from Lake Bluff, Ill. majoring in English writing.