Do Those Who Oppose OTC Plan B for Teens Remember Being a Teenager?

Amanda Marcotte makes two good observations about the decision to make teens get a prescription for Plan B. First (boldface mine):

Turns out a lot of people—especially men—who think of themselves as “reasonable” or moderate or even liberal, quickly glommed on to the argument that this ruling was addressing a parent’s right to know. They falsely assumed that putting Plan B out of reach of teenagers will force teenagers to talk to their parents, and didn’t consider that for many to most teenagers who were already not talking to parents, it will actually cause them to shut up about it and hope that they just don’t get pregnant.

I would simply add that many teens will simply get an older friend or sympathetic sibling to buy it for them. But this is the key point:

The problem comes back to the phrase, “They’re going to do it whether we like it or not.”

This is a favorite phrase of liberals defending everything from sex education to condom access for teenagers. It buys into the assumption that teenage sexuality is automatically illicit, and that the ideal would be retaining your virginity until some non-disclosed point in the future. It treats teenagers having sex with each other as an unavoidable tragedy, like a hurricane. We argue that sex education is a matter of harm reduction, instead of viewing it as a baseline for one of the best parts of life. It’s in direct opposition to how we teach driving. We frame driving as an exciting new development that demonstrates that a teenager is getting closer to adulthood. Yes, it’s about responsibility, but everyone involved is happy because we know that it’s really cool getting to the point where you can start going where you what when you want, and the fun and freedom that affords you. On the contrary, most adults imagine the discovery that an adolescent is sexually active as a tragic event for the family that requires recriminations and possibly even punishment. In this environment, the idea that the government policy should be about forcing this discovery instead of protecting adolescent health makes all too much sense.

Keep in mind too that these conversations with parents will only be had by girls in many cases, even though the boy is an essential part of the process (again, I’m a biologist, I know things).

What doesn’t make sense to me is that many, though not all, of these responsible, moderate adult men, when they were teens, wanted to have sex. If they did not, it had everything to do with lack of opportunity and social ineptitude, and virtually nothing to do with ‘values.’ Most of them turned out alright.

If you’re a concerned parent, the time to have these conversations is before teens become sexually active, as uncomfortable as that might be for everybody. In the long run, it’s healthier for everyone.

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1 Response to Do Those Who Oppose OTC Plan B for Teens Remember Being a Teenager?

  1. I thought Marcotte’s take on it was pretty prescient, particularly that she went beyond the, “It’s bad, but they’re going to do it anyway,” to point out that maybe we can find a healthier way to look at it altogether.

    That said, if I had a daughter I might feel differently and certainly, even without all the baggage that society saddles us with, there are plenty of land mines to be found. But again, they will find them and it would be better, in my opinion, that they go in with the knowledge of how to disarm some of them rather than pretending in some fairy world they won’t even be on that battlefield.

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