Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Removing Consequences

According to the New York Times, a Congressional inquiry has concluded that federal drug officials did in fact decide "to reject an application to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill months before a government scientific review of the application was completed."

Why did top officials at the FDA intercede you ask, before a complete review had been conducted? Why, especially when the FDA itself had determined that the pill, Plan B, should be considered birth control and not an abortifacient?

One might be forgiven for thinking that these high-level officials were less interested in following whatever recommendations those reviewing the product made, based up on the evidence offered by the science at hand, and were more interested in attending to political concerns. One might also be suspicious of the fact that former agency commissioner, Dr. Mark B. McClellan's notes and emails on the subject were all destroyed.

Apparently, it doesn't matter what benefits to women Plan B may contain, doesn't matter if it prevents unwanted and accidental pregnancies before they occur. The facts of the situation and the benefits of the science are irrelevent if, in the minds of some, it makes it easier for folks, especially adolescents, to have sex without consequences.

This take on this subject, this brutish sensibility is also reflected by those who criticize efforts to vaccinate young girls against cervical cancer, for fear of promoting sexual activity.

I think that if you look at the evolution of sexual mores from a sociological perspective, you'll find that many of them simply evolved as a way to protect people from the consequences of having sex. Now that science has removed many of those consequences, social conservatives are in mourning rather than celebrating. They'd rather keep condoms and Plan B and vaccines from young people--and I know some would probably like to keep them from unmarried adults--in order to ensure punishment for an increasingly harmless pastime.

Now, that doesn't mean I would want my (non-existent) 16-year-old daughter having sex. I just mean that if she does, I don't think she ought to be punished for it with an unwanted pregnancy, a venereal disease or cervical cancer.

To attempt to maintain that sort of status quo when science offers simple and inexpensive solutions is utterly inhumane.

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