Allowing over-counter sale of contraceptives to all ages ‘simply wrong’

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — An April 5 decision by a New York federal judge to lift age limits on purchases of over-the-counter emergency contraceptives should be “appealed and overturned,” according to an official of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said a U.S. District Court judge's decision giving 17-year-olds over-the-counter access to the morning-after pil l known as Plan B "will put minors' health at greater risk." McQuade is pictured in a 2005 photo in Washington. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“No public health consideration justifies the unregulated distribution of such drugs to children,” said Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro Life Activities.

“Many studies have shown that wider access to ’emergency contraception’ among young people does not reduce pregnancy or abortion rates, but can contribute to higher rates of sexually transmitted disease,” she said in a statement.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, N.Y., said that within 30 days, the Food and Drug Administration must make emergency contraceptives available to women of all ages.

Korman said the case wasn’t about the potential misuse by 11-year-olds of the contraceptive called the morning-after pill or “Plan B.” He said the number of girls that age likely to use the drugs was minuscule.

Plan B, known generically as levonorgestrel, uses large doses of birth-control pills to prevent conception up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of Plan B to women 18 and older; three years later, a court ruling made it available to women 17 and older without a prescription. Until Korman’s ruling, anyone younger still needed a prescription.

According to McQuade, “Plan B does not prevent or treat any disease, but makes young adolescent girls more available to sexual predators.”

She said the court’s action “undermines parents’ ability to protect their daughters from such exploitation and from the adverse effects of the drug itself.”

Sean Fieler, chairman of the Pro-Life Commission of the Archdiocese of New York, similarly disapproved the decision saying it takes away from parents “their legitimate rights to know what medical care and medications their children are receiving.”

“As a society, we properly regulate the decisions that children can make on their own, and so a child can’t be given an aspirin without parental supervision, get an ear pierced, or, here in New York, even use a tanning bed! But now young girls can be given these strong dangerous abortion-inducing drugs without a parent’s approval, or even a doctor’s supervision. This is very sad and simply wrong,” he said.

Korman’s decision came in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights over a decision by the Obama administration to set the age limit on over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly American Catholics have “in bread” hang-ups when it comes to ALL issues sexual!

    The “Morning After Pill” is another form of contraception and contraception is, within certain doctrinal venues, sinful and or wrong for Catholics to practice. (A foundational reaffirmation can be found within Humanae Vitae; remembering that much is missing w/re to the intimacy of love and marriage within that document.)

    In many ways the morning after pill is no different then the purchasing of standard male contraceptive devices which are over the counter items along with having been in vending machines for decades!

    I shall not argue the pharmaceutical dangers inherent within this drug or within ANY drug currently on the market. Time & Usage will tell that tale. (Thalidomide)

    Ms. McQuade is simply trying to throw a blanket on a fire which may or may not exist.

    The sexual proclivities of those persons under the age of, let us say, eighteen are becoming more prevalent and reoccurring. WHY? I have not functional answer to that question.

    I could, probably incorrectly, postulate that the “children” engaging in sexual activity are highly uninformed, have no competent parental direction or example, they have a family life absent of a “belief system or foundation”, and that peer pressure in the 21st Century in America is driven by a multi-media “sexting” community.

    For Ms. McQuade to castigate a decision by a Federal magistrate is sadly laughable.

    The statement by Ms. McQuade, “…“Plan B does not prevent or treat any disease, but makes young adolescent girls more available to sexual predators.”

    What is laughable is that Ms. McQuade (probably) has little concern for ANY Product, of a sex nature, that has as its intent to be a preventative in the transmission of communicable disease.

    Her answer would be abstinence! Probably very true, yet equally very unrealistic.

    Whether a plan “B” drug will create more sexual predators is such a blatant red herring along with that of a “bomb throwing” phrase it should only have been made while she was comfortable sequestered behind a bungling board!

    Is it not better to try and act somewhat proactively then is to sit in the corner of the kitchen crying into your apron while the good Father from county Tipperary comforts you about your pregnant daughter? It’s the 21 Century not the 19th Century.

  2. You said, “Her answer would be abstinence! Probably very true, yet equally very unrealistic.”
    I say it should be obvious that abstinence is the only thing that will work.

    Contraception surely has failed. Look at all the STD’s, unwed mothers, broken families, more divorces, more abortions (not to mention infanticides), and an increase in breast cancer. It’s unrealistic and inhuman. Welcome to the 21st century indeed!

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