The Food and Drug Administration just cleared Plan B for women ages 15 and up. Not only did the age limit get lowered, Plan B and its generic equivalents will be on the shelves with all the other over the counter medications. The caveat, you need ID.

While I applaud the lowering the age limit and putting it on the shelves, there really should be no age limit at all. Here’s why:

1) No one asks for ID when you buy a condom. Plan B is just another form of contraception. There is a multitude of scientific data proving Plan B is not an abortifacient and the idea that levonorgestrel could cause abortion isn’t even biologically plausible.

2) Requiring ID is another barrier. No everyone has their ID with them at all times, not even 46 year-old gynecologists. Also, not every 15-year-old has a driver’s license and even if they do, they might not have it on them.

3) There are no medical contraindications, so why have an age limit at all? You don’t need to be 15 to buy Tylenol or Aspirin, both of which are deadly when taken incorrectly. There are actually all kinds of toxins one can buy at the age of 10.

4) You don’t need ID to deliver a baby.  

5) Privacy. It’s hard enough to muster up the courage to buy condoms etc, why should the person ringing up your purchase get to know your name? What if they tell someone? Paying with cash and remaining anonymous should always be an option.

6) You don’t need ID to take it. My boyfriend bought 20120928-165320.jpgPlan B when I didn’t have my ID.

And for the bonus round….What about parental notification? There’s no tracking device on condoms, so again, why should parents know about Plan B? One hopes that parents talk about sex and pregnancy prevention with their kids, but it doesn’t always happen (if it did happen, we wouldn’t have so many unplanned pregnancies in this country).

And for those who think this will leads to scores of young women buying Plan B? Well, I hope so because it’s better to be 15 and taking Plan B than 15 and pregnant. Given the fact that the generic starts at around $25 it’s hard to see how putting Plan B on the shelves is going to help too many 15 year olds, however, putting it at eye level may make someone more likely to buy it and that’s a step in the right direction.

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  1. Another reason … it’s been available OTC in Canada for a while now and the sky has not fallen. Maybe too early for hard stats yet, but those who request it (no ID required but it is kept behind our counter due to high theft) tend to be adults, not young teens.

  2. I believe that the younger the female, the greater the need for ready access to Plan B. As a long-time social worker, I’m too familiar with the scenario in which the daughter gets whipped/beaten for becoming pregnant. I’ve seen this especialy in low-income families where the welfare mom who dropped out of school to start having babies in her teens says she doesn’;t want her daughter to do likewise. With roughly half of all pregnancies in the US being unplanned, & the high risks–for mother and child–of teen (& preteen) pregnancy & the greater impulsivity typical of the immature, why make it harder to prevent these? While I wish there were no unplanned pregnancies, unwanted children or out-of-wedlock sex, it’s not going to happen. I don’t see how anyone can fail to grasp the societal consequences of this–all of us pay a huge price for it.

  3. The only potential problem I have with Plan B is that it has to be accompanied by education. ie. This is not a good birth control method!! And given the fact that in the USA, lawmakers in many states are trying pretty hard to dismantle effective sex education programs, I don’t hold up much hope for that. (not advocating against Plan B being easily accessible)

  4. Is the barrier (no pun intended) to purchase misogynistic? Good points made.

  5. But what about girls who have been molested? These are not “women” – they are crime victims! Such an easy way for predators to cover up their crimes and go on to molest another…

  6. The real reason for the ID laws seems to be shaming women–especially young women–for having sex. If it were genuinely a safety issue, they would require a consultation with a pharmacist. I also think progestin-only pills should be available without a prescription. How do you feel about that?

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