After an election season infused with contraception-bashing partisanship, on Tuesday the FDA lowered the age at which a person can access Plan B One-Step to 15. The federal government had required that women under 17 years-old obtain a prescription for emergency contraception, but in early April, a federal judge ordered that the pill be made available over the counter without an age restriction by next week.*
“Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.
Does this mean we can fully ditch that god-awful ad campaign now? In March, New York City’s own teen pregnancy prevention efforts came under fire for a series of subway posters featuring tearful, defeatist babies. “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” some read. “Got a good job? I cost thousands of dollars each year,” read another.
Luckily, shame hasn’t been the only strategy deployed to reduce teen pregnancy in the city. According to a report put out by New York City’s Health Department earlier this year, teen pregnancy rates in the city have fallen by 27 percent over the last decade. Now, there are roughly 19,000 teen pregnancies a year in New York City, which plummeted from nearly 25,000 pregnancies in 2001. In February, Health Commissioner Tom Farley partly credited the reduced rate of teen pregnancies to making contraception available to teens.
“It shows that when you make condoms and contraception available to teens, they don’t increase their likelihood of being sexually active. But they get the message that sex is risky,” he told the Daily News.
See? Message received. Being bombarded with painfully self-aware babies is overkill.
*The original version of this post stated that the FDA had made Plan B available over the counter. It was a federal court order to lift prescription restrictions by next week. The Voice regrets the error.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 1, 2013