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Disappointed doesn't cut it anymore.

Disappointed, angry, dismayed — these are only some of the emotions I am feeling this afternoon after hearing President Obama's poor excuse for restricting access to Plan B One Step.

I am also scared.

Scared about the health of my daughters.  As the mother of two daughters, just like President Obama, I try to use "common sense" as much as possible. But, also like President Obama, I am not a doctor; I am not a scientist. I use my own judgment when it comes to things I am confident I can handle — a case of the sniffles, a little cold.  

But, I also understand that it is my responsibility as a parent to know when I don't know all the answers and it’s time to turn to experts. And that, apparently, is where the President and I disagree.

When my daughter’s pediatrician gives me medical advice, I listen. Carefully. American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine make recommendations about my daughters' health, that matters to me. A lot. And I believe it should.

President Obama has made the irresponsible — and nearly incomprehensible — decision to support HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ move to block the FDA from expanding access to Plan B One-Step emergency contraception. Whether the President’s decision was motivated by well-intentioned ignorance or political cowardice is beside the point. Either way, this move will adversely impact millions of women, particularly young women, across the country.

President Obama has decided to ignore scientific research and medical advice and has sacrificed the health of young women. And I want to know why. Why, Mr. President? Why would you reject years of research and the best scientific thinking the medical community has to offer? Why, for the first time in U.S. history, did your administration intervene to overrule the FDA’s ability to make decision about medical science?

On Monday, I was optimistic. The FDA was expected to expand the availability of Plan B One-Step, a form of back-up birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if something goes wrong with regular contraception. Indeed, the FDA tried to do just that: make Plan B One-Step available to all women — without age restrictions and without needing a prescription. If either of my daughters ever needs back-up birth control, I hope I will be among the first to know and I would help them in whatever way I could. But, life is not always as we want it to be, and therefore, it is essential that young people have the access to the information and services they need to ensure their health and safety. I thought we were headed in this direction on Monday. But, my optimism suddenly turned to dismay.

On Wednesday, in a shocking move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA and blocking its decision to expand access to emergency contraception. I held out a brief hope that President Obama would intervene and allow the FDA to do its job unhampered by politics, but those hopes were soon dashed as well. Yesterday, President Obama came out in support of Secretary Sebelius' action — and, in doing so, decided to play politics with the lives and health of young women.

To say I was shocked when listening to the President is an understatement. It’s not just that I disagree with his position, it’s that his reasoning is so hollow and unsubstantiated. This Harvard-educated legal scholar who has signed presidential directives about the importance of science-based policy suddenly sounded eerily like Rep. Michelle Bachman. He framed his reasoning “as the father of two daughters,” when my own two daughters most needed him to be acting like the President of the United States. He invoked the specter of 11 year-olds buying Plan B next to “bubble gum and batteries,” as if 11 year-olds wander into CVS to buy $50 medications every afternoon. In the end, he felt that these concerns should overweigh the best advice of every major medical organization, years of research, and the recommendations of the FDA itself. How is this different than Rep. Bachman condemning HPV vaccines because of unscientific misinformation from a woman in the grocery store?

I understand that President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that young teens may need emergency contraception. That worries me too. Rather than deny them access to a fully safe medication that could help prevent unintended pregnancy, perhaps we should be doubling down on comprehensive sex education — and expanding access to contraception in the first place — so that fewer of our daughters ever need Plan B at all. But, for those who do, we still have a responsibility to make sure that any woman who needs emergency contraception has access to it when they need it.

As I write this my daughters are at school and I am figuring out how to get them a quick dinner before heading off to a school holiday party this evening. Of all the other things, on my to do list today as a working mom, I really did not believe I would be writing about my shock and disappointment in President Obama and, yes, my fear for my daughters' future.

Was this part of a back-room deal, trading away the rights of all our daughters for some inside-the-beltway political ploy? Mr. President, why? I still want to know. I need something more than your current, cowardly excuses.

Mr. President, many of us were stunned by your remarks. We need a better explanation for why you decided to sacrifice my daughters' safety and well-being.

I hope you will join me in expressing your outrage and demanding that President Obama reverse this decision. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION.

(Cross-posted from Amplify)

Originally posted to Amplify Your Voice on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:15 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good point I did not think of: (6+ / 0-)
    He invoked the specter of 11 year-olds buying Plan B next to “bubble gum and batteries,” as if 11 year-olds wander into CVS to buy $50 medications every afternoon.
    •  My suggestion to all disappointed and scared (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anna M, Statusquomustgo, awcomeon, tbetz

      mothers is ti buy this medication and hand to your daughters now if they are under the age of 17, this way they will have it and you won't have to worry that they will not be able to get.

      For those of us who do not agree with your position, we do not want girls under the age of 15 buying this drug. And I am as liberal as they come and have fought for a woman's right to choose before it became law.

      •  I don't know if it is a good idea... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        demoKatz

        ...or not to allow 15 year olds to buy it or not, I have to think about it more, for sure.

        But for Pres Obama to make a comment that he doesn't want them to buy it with "batteries and bubble gum" was a trivial comment on his part, in my opinion. It did not help the argument at all, I thought it was a cheap shot and unnecessary.

  •  I respect your opinion but this decision (13+ / 0-)

    does not " adversely impact millions of women." Women and girls over the age of 16 will be able to get Plan B OTC. Girls 16 and younger (not women) will have to get it by prescription. You may disagree with that decision, but these girls are not women. Also, while the benefits of Plan B may well outweigh the negatives, synthetic hormones are not "fully safe."  

    I have no problem with people coming to different conclusions about this decision, but to say that "women" are affected or that there are no side effects (some of which may not be known for years) for young girls based on clinical trials for women seems to me to be not quite fair.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:45:22 AM PST

  •  Sebelius took one more motivating GOTV issue... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k6007, awcomeon

    ... off the table for GOP Fundies and Forced-Birthers for the 2012 election. After Obama has been sworn in for his second term in 2013, Sebelius' replacement can reverse her ruling without the need for further FDA study and Plan B will be freely available.

    Don't delude yourself; this was a purely defensive political play, and from a purely political standpoint, probably a good one. GOP voters are getting less enthusiastic every day; the Obama administration will do well for the next year not to stir up the hornets' nest by pushing past the status quo things that can more easily be done a year from now.

    Changing the availability of Plan B right now would have done little to motivate Obama voters, and would have done much to motivate opponents.

    Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright, April 2008:
    BO: ‘You know what your problem is?’
    JW: ‘What is that?’
    BO: ‘You have to tell the truth.’
    JW: ‘That’s a good problem. That’s a good problem.’
    http://bit.ly/rl6UqP

    by tbetz on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 08:04:45 AM PST

  •  As a mother who has had to see her daughter (8+ / 0-)

    through her teenage years, I believe this diary is way over the top.  If you feel this pill will save your daughters' lives, have the conversation, purchase the pills yourself, and either give them to your girls or keep them on hand.
    This is lunacy, I'd been Horrified to find out my teenager (Who was NOT a "women", btw!) needed this pill for Any reason.  Whether it was because she was having unprotected sex, or because she was violated.  If it was the first, I'd question my own parenting.  The second, and she should be going to the police, not the drugstore.  Please, I'm as liberal as they come, but the potential for abuse is a real concern for me.  Don't get me to talking about the potential for corruption at the drug company funded FDA...I'll be here all day.

  •  If you are 16 and over (6+ / 0-)

    you can buy OTC.Right?I am very pro choice but do not feel it is right to give 11 and 12 year olds access to any drugs without some adult supervision.They are children not women.

  •  Another vote for diary over dramatization (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k6007, awcomeon, TooFolkGR, tbetz

    As a woman, I FULLY understand this decision. A girl who's below 16 years of age is NOT a woman, that's a child! Even if yes, they are having unprotected sex. I would support my children but DEFINATELY would like to know and be involved in the process, which she wouldnt feel the need to if she could just reach over the counter.
    If this makes me less of a feminist, so be it.

  •  Whenever *anyone* says, "As a parent... I... " (4+ / 0-)

    then I know what follows will be irrational and/or indefensible.

    Even when it's the President.

    If you're below the age of 16 and can't talk to your parents about your pregnancy, maybe there's a good reason. And maybe you shouldn't have to.

    You and your parents might want to improve the relationship between you to the point where you could discuss it, but using your pregnancy as a bargaining chip to make that happen is frankly psychotic.

    If you can get pregnant, safety tip: you're not a child.

    So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. --Charlie Chaplin, pacifist

    by khereva on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 10:47:53 AM PST

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