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Morning-after pill to be sold to 15-year-olds

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Discarded packaging for the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive (morning after abortion pill) for women under 17 found on the ground in Highland Park, December 1, 2010 (Credit: waltarrrrr via Flickr)

The “morning-after pill” will soon be available to anyone age 15 and older, with no prescription or parental notification required.  Marketed as “Plan B One-Step,” the pill is intended to prevent unwanted pregnancy by affecting ovulation or interfering with the fertilization of an egg.  Unlike RU-486, it does not cause miscarriage or abortion.

The Food and Drug Administration had limited sales to those age 17 or older.  While lowering the age to 15, the FDA is also requiring proof of age.  Some are criticizing the government for requiring such proof and want the drug available to women of all ages.  According to others, “it makes no sense that kids need parental permission to take aspirin at school, but they’re free to buy and administer Plan B.”  They point out that a prescription is required for birth control pills but not for Plan B, which contains 40 times the dosage of hormone.

When the morning-after pill first became available without a prescription in 2006, some warned that it would encourage unprotected sex and raise the rates of sexually transmitted diseases.  However, a review of 11 trials involving 7,695 women found that access to such “emergency contraception” did neither.  Notably, it did not lower the rate of unwanted pregnancies, either.

Nor have other birth control medications.  Five decades after “the pill” was first made available, half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended and 22 percent of pregnancies end in abortion.  And “the pill” has produced other significant consequences.  Seen as “one of the cornerstones of the sexual revolution,” it led to a marked increase in the number of women who were sexually active before marriage.  By the mid-1970s, the majority of newly married American couples were not virgins.  Today America leads the industrialized world in teenage pregnancy; three out of 10 girls in our country become pregnant before the age of 20, 81 percent out of wedlock.

If you were in charge of the FDA, what would you do?  On one hand, emergency contraception could prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions.  (It could especially be relevant in cases of rape and incest.)  On the other, it could encourage sexual promiscuity, which is already at epidemic levels.

Here’s the best solution: Reserve sex for marriage.  Scripture says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).  As with all created things, the One who made us knows us better than we know ourselves.  If his plan for sexuality seems naïve and outdated, is that his fault or ours?