Debate Club

Access to Health Care and Birth Control Is a Civil Right

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The Obama administration's decision to appeal a judge's order to make the so-called "morning after" pill available over the counter to women and girls of all ages is punitive, dangerous and appallingly irresponsible. Does Barack Obama really want to be the president whose misguided policies could end up forcing pregnancy and childbirth on young teenagers? Or does he want to be the president who upholds the rule of law and champions the constitutional right to birth control?

When, in December 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled the Food and Drug Administration's decision, based on scientific research, that emergency contraception should be available over the counter without age restrictions, it was the first time in U.S. history that an FDA decision had been overruled. Ronald Reagan's administration never did it. Nor did Richard Nixon's or George W. Bush's. And as Judge Korman in his thoroughly researched and carefully reasoned April 5 ruling demonstrated, the Obama administration's action was pure politics, unsupported by science or evidence.

[See a collection of political cartoons on health care.]

Look, I get it: The thought of a tween girl having unprotected sex and then purchasing and consuming a medication to prevent pregnancy makes many people uncomfortable. Of course we don't want girls – or boys, for that matter – to engage in inappropriately young sexual activity. But to deny them their health care rights as defined by the courts is as wrong as obstructing any other civil right.

Numerous studies have disproved the myth that giving girls access to birth control – including emergency contraception – leads to risky sexual behavior. And no caring parent thinks the response to young teens having sex is to punish them by withholding health care. It's also incredibly naïve to think that girls in need of emergency contraception will always have a trustworthy adult to go to for help. Being able to obtain emergency contraception off a drugstore shelf gives girls power over their own reproductive health that can otherwise be impossible.

Just one week ago, Obama told the Planned Parenthood convention, "We shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to a woman's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you." Lofty rhetoric – if only he would live up to his own words.

Terry O'Neill

About Terry O'Neill President of the National Organization for Women

Tags
women's health
birth control

Other Arguments

#2
87 Pts
All Women Should Have Quick, Confidential Access to Emergency Contraception

Yes – All Women Should Have Quick, Confidential Access to Emergency Contraception

Deborah Nucatola Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America

#3
75 Pts
It's Time to Eliminate Barriers to Safe Pregnancy Prevention

Yes – It's Time to Eliminate Barriers to Safe Pregnancy Prevention

Jessica Arons Director of the Women's Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress

#4
67 Pts
This Is About Health, Not Politics

Yes – This Is About Health, Not Politics

Susannah Baruch Interim President and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project

#5
-36 Pts
Plan B Creates a Predator's Paradise

No – Plan B Creates a Predator's Paradise

Bryan Fischer Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association

#6
-37 Pts
Plan B Leaves Too Many Questions Unanswered

No – Plan B Leaves Too Many Questions Unanswered

Teresa Donovan Associate Scholar of the Charlotte Lozier Institute

#7
-40 Pts
An Irresponsible and Dangerous Contraception Decision

No – An Irresponsible and Dangerous Contraception Decision

Anna Higgins Director of Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity

#8
-73 Pts
A Deepening of America's Moral Crisis

No – A Deepening of America's Moral Crisis

Andrea S. Lafferty President of Traditional Values Coalition

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