President Obama: Don't Play Politics with the Health of Women and Young People
TAKE ACTION: On December 7, the FDA was poised to expand access to Plan B One-Step emergency contraception for all women. Shockingly, President Obama and HHS Secretary Sebelius blocked the decision from taking effect. No presidential administration has ever overruled the FDA’s ability to make a decision on medical science – until now.
President Obama objected to allowing younger teens to purchase emergency contraception without a prescription, but this age restriction causes huge problems for women of all ages.
I should know. It happened to me.
One time during my freshman year in college, the condom broke. I wasn't on birth control because I couldn't afford it at the time. I was suddenly facing the possibility of getting pregnant my first semester in college and I was terrified.
I knew I needed Plan B. I was over 18, but I didn’t have identification to prove it. I've never felt so powerless, never so at the mercy of someone else for something so important. Thankfully, the guy I was seeing stepped up and bought it for me – but I know not everyone has someone they can turn to.
Many women face similar barriers: nearly 20% of women ages 18-24 don’t have government issue photo ID, and even if you do, you still may face stigma, cultural barriers, or flat-out refusal trying to get Plan B. Plus, you’re out of luck at night or if the pharmacy counter happens to be closed – which is a pretty huge deal since Plan B is much more effective the sooner you take it.
I was astonished that President Obama said he made this decision “as a father” because he’s uncomfortable that young teens could find Plan B One-Step in the aisle at the drug store, rather than behind the counter. I expect him to make policy decisions about science as the President, based on the evidence and the best medical research.
The FDA looked at all existing research and peer-reviewed medical science before deciding that "determined that the product was safe and effective [including] in adolescent females…" Even the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all support access to emergency contraception for all females of reproductive age.
Tell President Obama and Secretary Sebelius to stop blocking the FDA from doing its job. Medical experts have spoken: it’s time to make Plan B One-Step available for all women.
Almost immediately after you came into office, you signed a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity stating, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health…The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions.”
I could not believe that you blatantly broke this promise by supporting HHS Secretary Sebelius’s decision to override the FDA and disregard the scientific and medical community, which strongly supports over-the-counter access of emergency contraception for all women of reproductive age.
It was shocking that you decided to play politics with Sasha and Malia, framing your decision “as a father of two daughters.” I expect you to make decisions like this as the President. Your daughters deserve better – and the rest of us do to. Hold Secretary Sebelius accountable to your own memorandum and instruct her to reverse her decision and let the FDA do their job.