BY ALEXIS JONES
The recent debate over Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, has garnered a lot of attention in the news since it just became legal to purchase it over the counter. Since 2006, the pill required not only a doctor’s prescription, but demanded that you were at least 17 years old to request it without a parent or guardian present. This presented many complications and deterrents for people (even those well over the age of 17) who for a variety of reasons wanted access to this kind of emergency contraceptive. Unfortunately we still live in a country where not everyone has access to health care, so going to the doctor may be too expensive. Taking the time off work to go to the doctor or a Planned Parenthood location could also be deterrents to using this form of contraceptive.
While it’s easy to make this an emotional debate by saying that nobody wants a 10-year-old walking into a pharmacy and buying this over the counter, the reality is that when you look at the data of sexually active youth, the percentage of 10 and even 11-year-olds having sex is virtually miniscule. Even 16-year-olds having sex make up less than 25% of the teenage population. The reality is that there continues to be a debate over the religious and political views on a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her body.
At the end of the day, I have my own opinions. While fortunately I have never had to walk in the shoes of a woman choosing between keeping a child, giving it away for adoption or opting to terminate the pregnancy, I certainly don’t envy a girl presented with any of those options. I also believe that my own religious and political views should have no bearing on another person. While my faith guides my life, I’m certainly not here to tell anyone else how to live their life, nor do I think anyone else should stand on a pedestal preaching their beliefs to others.
I strongly believe that a woman’s body is her own and what she chooses to do with it is her own decision. I believe that access to contraceptives should be available to women and that making access to them difficult only complicates a girl’s life and thrusts her into a stickier situation. I hope that at some point, there is not a room full of predominately men arguing over the right a woman does or doesn’t have to her body. I hope that we see the value in freedom of choice as much as we do freedom of speech and our freedom to bear arms.
More than the laws created or undone, I think if we spent a fraction of the time educating girls and empowering them to make good, wise decisions, this whole issue would be greatly diminished. I believe that if we were raising strong, confident and driven young girls, teen pregnancy would drop significantly. Too many people want to argue over the symptoms and not address the real problem. I see young girls often having unprotected sex in the hopes of getting approval, which only feeds insecurity. If we could exchange this people-pleasing tendency with an unwavering sense of self-esteem and empower girls to use condoms without shame, then maybe this debate would slowly fade away. Until then, people will stand around pedantically throwing religious quotes, political slander and self-righteous jargon instead of really hearing the voices of those most affected.
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