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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. How does Obama's hollow rationale and rejection of science make him any different than Michele Bachmann?

Written by Kate Stewart for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

See all our coverage of Kathleen Sebelius' 2011 Emergency Contraception Reversal here.



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.


Today, 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.


Yesterday, 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. Today, 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 today. 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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please Educate Me... (8+ / 0-)

    I apologize, and please forgive my ignorance, but I have not followed this issue as closely as some, so please enlighten me.

    It is my understanding that Plan B is now an over the counter drug, currently available to women over 18 yo... the issue here was whether it would be made available on the same basis for younger women/girls. Is that not true?

    If that is the case, there is nothing to prevent a parent from purchasing it and providing it to their under age daughters, if they choose to... much like many parents do with condoms. So how does this threaten the health of younger girls/women?

    I may well misunderstand the issue, and if I do I'd appreciate your insight.

    Respectfully...

  •  Mountain, meet molehill. (5+ / 0-)

    Sebelius' ruling took off the table one more excuse to motivate 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. Slam-dunk.

    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.

    In the meantime, I fully endorse continuing to put pressure on the Obama administration to do the right thing and make Plan B available, so it isn't forgotten after re-election. But not voting for Obama will only make things worse for every American.

    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 02:04:51 PM PST

    •  Maybe Obama needs to do more (3+ / 0-)

      wink, wink, nod, nod so that the rest of us can know his mind and plans for 2013 as well as you do.  Personally, I expect Obama to act more like Clinton in his second term (a flat out, pedal to the metal neo-liberal) than your fantasy of the progressive biding his time.

      Regardless, treating the bodies of young women as expendable for poltical advantage is despicable.  But you have plenty of company for doing so in many countries.

      •  Seriously over the top (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YoungArizonaLiberal

        " treating the bodies of young women as expendable for poltical advantage" is also bullshit.

        I'm looking long-term and wide. You're looking microscopic, as if even one under-16 girl suffering a pregnancy because she isn't able to wheedle someone older into providing Plan B for her is Obama's fault, instead of being the fault of an immature society incapable of overcoming the "ick factor" arising from the thought of daddy's little girl having sex.

        The problems these girls face will be little changed, even when Plan B is as available as gumdrops, if society as a whole has not matured enough to overcome the "ick factor"  and the host of other problems that engenders.

        If you want to accomplish something truly meaningful, that's where you need to focus your energy.

        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 04:38:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  By the way, this is pure bullshit: (7+ / 0-)
    commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

    If you aren't willing to discuss it here, don't post it here.

    This kind of spammy bullshit should be cause for HR.

    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 02:07:05 PM PST

    •  maybe it's confusing because it isn't blockquoted (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GeeBee, Orange County Liberal

      but I read that this was "Written by Kate Stewart for RH Reality Check", so the diarist likely meant you could interact with her there, the website it was originally "written for".  RH Reality Check is "an online community and publication serving individuals and organizations committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights" (in addition to being the DKOS user name of an individual presumably posting here on their behalf).  

    •  tbetz I was just going to say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tbetz

      the same thing, this is not the first of these that has been posted.   tks

      Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

      by EdMass on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 04:09:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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