Plan B for 17 year olds: Risky?

Mike Galanos wrote an opinion piece for the CNN asserting that Plan B is risky for 17 year olds. His argument, however, doesn't hold water. Let's take a look at it, bit by bit:

Think of a 17-year-old girl. Most of the time she's a high school senior, still living at home with Mom and Dad.

Ok, thinking, thinking... got it: A 17 year old girl, terrified to admit to her parents that she not only has sex (gasp!), but had unprotected sex. Will she take the chance at pregnancy to avoid telling her parents? Yeah, probably.

She still needs her parents in the tough times. But they will be cut out of a traumatic situation.

Wait, what's traumatic here? The sex? That's not traumatic. Unprotected sex? Not traumatic, as long as it doesn't result in pregnancy. So, actually, we're preventing a traumatic situation.

Now keep in mind birth control pills require a doctor's prescription, but a drug that is more powerful doesn't?

Ok - so maybe we should make birth control pills over the counter too? And, also, while Plan B is more powerful per pill, but birth control is a much more serious health concern because you're on it for weeks, months, years. The depression and other things that can result from birth control isn't really a risk with Plan B.

Some argue that a girl can get an abortion without parental notification in some states, so why not Plan B? But just because those states got it wrong by leaving parents out of the loop doesn't mean others should follow suit.

Let's make sure we can follow his argument here (where the ">" means "more serious than"): Abortion > Plan B > Birth control pills. States allow abortion without parental consent, but that doesn't imply allowing Plan B. But, earlier, he basically used the opposite logic: if states don't allow birth control, why would they allow a more serious drug? Inconsistent logic.

In most states, minors can't get a tattoo, body piercings or go to a tanning salon without a parent's permission, but we are going to leave them alone to take Plan B.

Well, yes, this makes sense because of the consequences of not providing access to Plan B: pregnancy. What's the consequence of not providing access to tattoos?

Timing is essential to the drug's effectiveness, Plan B supporters say, so getting parents and doctors involved would unnecessarily delay the teen's ability to pop the pill the "morning after." Does it really take that long to get a prescription?

First, it can take a while if it's on a weekend (and teens do have this tendency to have sex on weekends). Second, it would unnecessarily prevent the teen from telling her parents. Do you not know teenage girls? They don't really like getting grounded or barred from seeing their boyfriends.

The New York Times reports that since 18-year-olds were allowed to get Plan B without a prescription in 2006, there has been no evidence of it having an effect on the country's teen pregnancy or abortion rates.

True, but they also showed no increase in risky behaviors. So, 1 point for each side here.

We're enabling teenagers to act carelessly with an easy way out.

Yeah! Let's punish them with unplanned pregnancy! Brilliant!

"Teenagers are known for thinking they're untouchable and here we are saying that they can continue to do that and that there aren't any consequences."

Ah, so you admit that teens tend to think that nothing bad could happen to them? So, given that attitude, if they have unprotected sex, will they tell their parents so that they can get Plan B? I didn't think so.

The boyfriend will talk his girlfriend into unprotected sex with the promise of buying the "morning after pill" the next day.

Please, show me some data stating that this is a concern. Last I checked, boys were also scared of pregnancy - especially since, as you stated, Plan B is only 89% effective. (In fact, boys might be more scared of pregnancy, since they don't get any say in abortion.)

Yes, this could encourage unprotected sex and that means a greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases.

(A) Studies have shown that it doesn't increase promiscuity. (B) Isn't Plan B like $40 a pop? I don't think people are going to really rely on this as their sole method of birth control.

What about the 17-year-old girl who may get Plan B for her 15-year-old sophomore friend?

What about it? I'm ok with that, since it's certainly better than the 15 year old not taking it at all.

Yes, teens have sex and difficult situations will arise, but should we open the door for our girls to go through this alone? That is not what is best for our daughters.

See, here's the thing: Plan B supporters are trying to make sure your daughters don't have to go through "this" at all (where "this" is an unplanned pregnancy).

And, allow me to make a few additional points:

  1. The average age in the US for people to lose their virginity is about 17. So to say that parents need to be informed that their 17 year old is having sex is a little extreme. If you have a 17 year old, they're probably having sex. This is not a crisis that needs to be averted. It's normal.
  2. When a 17 year old girl has to chose between taking Plan B and informing her parents, and not taking it at all, she just wouldn't take Plan B. So, the parents won't be informed that their teen is having sex anyway.
  3. It's not that I want parents to be uninformed. It's that I don't want unplanned pregnancies. Given that, I'll take uninformed parents and fewer unplanned pregnancies.
  4. In an entire article about why 17 year olds should need a prescription to get Plan B, Galanos never even responds to the core reason why many people disagree. That's a rather glaring omission.