Fact: I've been with the same guy for a pretty long time now. We're both adults, by all legal and social standards. We both live in New York, although we don't (yet) live together. We don't fuck other people. He makes me want to get married and have babies eventually, and all that other queer stuff. It is the least offensive sexual relationship possible. Your grandmother wishes you could have that kind of sex.
Until recently, I was on the birth-control patch. Then my migraines started getting worse. So I went off it. My boyfriend and I had been using condoms for a while when, motherfucker, one broke. At exactly the wrong time of the month. On a fucking Friday evening. Friday evening is when all the gynecologists meet up, go to Six Flags and don’t answer their pagers. I wasn't able to get in touch with my gynecologist’s office until Saturday afternoon, when they phoned in a prescription for the aptly named “Plan B” to my pharmacy. But no one bothered to tell me that my pharmacy didn't have it in stock.
“Come back Monday!” they told me.
I did come back Monday — sixty-two hours into the seventy-two-hour window you have to take emergency contraception.
“Wild weekend?” my consistently inappropriate pharmacist asked.
If the MAP were available over the counter, I'd have been less likely to get pregnant.
“It's for my dog,” I said, as I paid him sixty dollars, which is what my dickwad insurance made me pay, even though it's double the projected over-the-counter price. After all of that, I went home, took a pill, got some cramps, took some Tylenol, took another pill twelve hours later, and didn't get pregnant. How about that.
Here's the thing. If the morning-after pill (MAP) were available over the counter — as it is in California, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and New Mexico — I could have taken it Friday night, which means I would have been less likely to get pregnant. (The overall effectiveness rate is about 90%.) The pill would have been more likely to prevent fertilization than to stop a fertilized egg from implanting, which means something if you're of the life-begins-at-conception camp. (I'm not, but for what it's worth, I do think abortion poses moral, though not legal, ambiguities.) It would have been about thirty dollars cheaper. And my interaction with my pigbitch pharmacist would have been a lot briefer.
This stochastic bullshit mires public debate.
But last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would hold off on approving MAP for over-the-counter use. Dr. Steven Galston, head of the FDA, said it was unclear whether patients under sixteen would use the pill effectively or that it was safe for them. It's against my instinct, but I'm going to take Galston at his word. I'd like to hope that all over-the-counter drugs are researched extensively and determined to be safe. Although it would be fairly straightforward to sell the pill only to girls over sixteen, I'll buy into the excuse that we're just waiting for more research to come in. I'll reserve my contempt for those who are co-opting this ostensibly objective public health decision as a moral victory. This includes the more dogmatic opponents of abortion, including (surprise!) church groups and conservative legislators.
The FDA hasn't issued any sort of ultimate decision. But at the same time, the organization has begun claiming that it's trying to prevent abortion, limit teen promiscuity and do a host of other things which are not the FDA's job, by its own director's admission. This stochastic bullshit mires public debate, making it difficult for consumers and citizens (that's you!) to follow health research and policy developments. Obtaining information becomes secondary to forming an opinion on the morality of a situation which doesn't even exist yet. Finally (and then I'm done, promise), sensationalizing the drug by constantly linking it to Nasty Wet Slutty Teenagers is an insidious way to push an agenda which limits reproductive rights. Likely as not, the majority of MAP's users will be in sexual relationships, which are much less likely to scare people than visions of eighth graders humping every third person they pass on the street because they can. I mean, they've got that pill. — Carrie Hill Wilnern°
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