There’s an old saying that goes: it takes a village to raise a child. But how many of us really understand what this means? Based on the continuing ridiculous debate over Plan B contraception and young girls, apparently not too many of us. If we actually realized that our youth need the input and guidance of parents, teachers, family members, clergy, elected officials and the community at large, we wouldn’t be worried about whether or not an 11-year-old can buy a morning-after pill by herself. The fact that we’re even having this conversation makes me realize that we have all lost our damn (can I say that?) minds. Why are 11, 12 and 13-year-olds not planning for education, careers and their own lives? Or better yet simply dressing up their dolls? What ever happened to Plan A?
When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that she was overruling the F.D.A’s decision to allow the Plan B One-Step pill to be sold over-the-counter to women of all ages, a firestorm erupted. Many on the left said science was being ignored and every person of child-bearing age should have access to the medication, while the Catholic Church has been pushing for an all-out ban on the drug completely. First of all, the fact that young girls are having sex to begin with is troubling to a parent like myself, but if they are, why would we ever want them making such heart-wrenching decisions by themselves? Having unchecked access to the morning-after pill would leave these minors even more isolated, and because they are so impressionable at that age, they may easily abuse the drug as some form of contraceptive. What is supposed to be used as a last resort, could be misused as birth control or falsely perceived to prevent STDs.
President Obama praised Secretary Sebelius’ actions this week. Citing his own daughters, he said: ‘I think most parents would probably feel the same way … I will say this, as the father of two young daughters, I think it is important for us to make sure that, you know, we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.” I commend the administration and Secretary Sebelius for taking this bold action. While women 17 and older will still be able to purchase Plan B over-the-counter, all those 16 and younger will not. To me, this is a no brainer.
Our problem in society is that we in the community have stopped actively raising the next generation together. Just as we should intervene when we see our neighbor’s kid stealing, we should just as easily give advice to our neighbor’s young girl who may be missing affection as her parents work multiple jobs to keep food on the table. We used to be a community that cared. We used to help out one another even when the world’s brutality was upon us. And we must do it again. There’s absolutely no reason why a girl should be purchasing a morning-after pill on her own. We need to show her that she too has a shot at a successful, meaningful life. That should be her Plan A, bottom-line.