Oh, Think of the Children!

Kathleen Geier does a good job tearing apart Kathleen Parker’s objections to Plan B availability for teenage girls. Here’s Parker:

Question 2: Do you think that girls as young as 11 or 12 should be able to buy the morning-after pill without any adult supervision? Didn’t think so.
Question 3: If you answered yes to Question 2, are you a parent? Didn’t think so.

In addition to what Geier says to this, which you can read at the link, I’ll just note that I’m a parent, of a girl, who was 11 and 12, and I answer “Yes” to 2, because the only thing more dangerous than OTC Plan B for an 11 or 12 year old is a pregnancy.

I’m sure Parker considers herself a protector of youth endangered by the permissiveness and moral relativism of our liberal culture, but I’m not buying what she’s peddling. If you consider gun fethishism, anti-gay bigotry, and  abstinence-only sex ed coupled with limits on contraception, Kathleen Parker and the rest of the right-wing moral scolds are nothing but a danger to America’s youth. They should be treated with the level of parental suspicion reserved for a scruffy old guy offering candy to kids out of the back of his van, or a Catholic priest.

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70 replies
  1. 1
    kerFuFFler says:

    I thought the age cut-off for plan B was 15, so why is Parker droning on about 11 year olds? What a deceitful bitch.

  2. 2
    Mike in NC says:

    Kathleen Parker is Bobo with boobs.

  3. 3
    scav says:

    @Mike in NC: Explain that to a dyslexic. Or, maybe they are the same person and we’re the ones getting things in the wrong order . . .

  4. 4

    ‘Think of the children’ usually means ‘Think of my right to absolutely control my children as if they were property!’ The middle step is the conservative’s deranged ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy where if you pretend sex, violence, child abuse, homosexuality, other religions, etc. don’t exist they can’t happen. They need the government’s help to create a zone of absolute ignorance where their children will have no other options than to do what their parents want.

  5. 5
    Keith says:

    On the subject of the Washington Post, does anyone else have an issue where you view a page, and in a split second, it transfers to a bunch of javascript? I had this happen on my old Win7 machine, and then I switched to a brand-new Win8 setup, and it started doing that after about a month. And it also happens on my PC at work now.

  6. 6
    YellowJournalism says:

    I (sadly and reluctantly) say “yes” to number two, not only because I’m a parent who understands the unfortunate realities of life but because I’ve also worked with young girls at or around that age who may be in danger of needing that access. One example would have been the 12-year-old who told me about missing her 24-year-old boyfriend while he was in jail for theft. (Yes, it turned out to be a true story. The girls’ mother had banned her only after concern was raised by the school, but I found out months later that she found a way around mom to see him. Mom wasn’t really “hands-on” in the parenting department.)

  7. 7
    scav says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Offer not applicable to mere women if offspring still internally housed, bien sûr. Govt and societal interest in and control of that child is overarching and paramount.

  8. 8
    Roger Moore says:

    This is a classic example of “if we ignore it, maybe it will go away” thinking. Nobody wants 11 or 12 year olds to be having sex and getting pregnant, but it still happens. Conservatives think that if we close our eyes and pretend really hard, it will stop happening. Liberals think that it’s going to keep happening no matter what we do, so we’d better have a system in place to deal with the negative consequences.

  9. 9

    @scav:
    I’m sorry, I have completely failed to parse your argument. Under what circumstances do they not think the parents (or head of family) should have absolute power over their children?

  10. 10
    aimai says:

    I have very mixed feelings about this. As the mother of two adolescent girls I think they absolutely need to have the right to gain access to necessary medical care whether I know about it or not–and I think thought that about them when they were 11. Now that they are 14 and 16 I’m even more sure of it. However: The reality is, however, that children can get pregnant as early as they get their periods (in my daughters case around nine years old, which is becoming quite common). Its not that children that young should be prevented from getting the morning after pill. I don’t think that at all. But children that young are generally not in a position to have 50 bucks to purchase anything in a drugstore and certainly should not be offered any drugs (including ibuprofen) without some adult taking responsibility for the fact that they are self medicating. If your nine year old is pregnant you have bigger problems, of course, than potential allergic reactions or misplaced diagnosis of risk. But its still the case that (hypothetically) offering people any medications over the counter is highly problematic if you think people are self medicating and are minor children.

    I think the morning after pill is a ridiculous place to make a stand about parental notification. If people like Kathleen parker cared at all about children they would push for full, free, public, medical care to be provided through a comprehensive school based nurse practitioner model in which girls (and boys) could receive contraception and contraception counseling that was respectful of their situation, the abuse they may be suffering, and their medical needs/medical history. Regardless of the source of the pregnancy any teen or pre-teen who is sexually active needs help, contraception, counseling, and possibly defense against abusers in their community/family. The pharmacy and/or the check out counter is not equipped to offer this.

  11. 11
    lojasmo says:

    Currently, there are no state laws that bar minors’ right to confidential contraceptive care. Given that an 11 or 12 year old could go to the doctor to get plan B, and given that plan B is probably safe (fen-fen anybody) I would say “yes” to question two. and I am a parent.

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    Apparently words like p*ll, d*r*gs, Con*cep…etc will all put you into moderation. Too bad its the topic of the thread.

  13. 13
    Roger Moore says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Under what circumstances do they not think the parents (or head of family) should have absolute power over their children?

    Before they’re born.

  14. 14

    @Roger Moore:
    I see the argument now, but I disagree. It relies on empathy, an understanding that other people have families, and on facts. Making abortion illegal extends their power over their own family by helping keep their daughters ignorant of the existence of sex. They have no concept that they might regret this decision later – they want to force their special snowflake to remain innocent now.

    EDIT – I really must stress this. The argument is ‘*I* should have absolute control over *MY* children.’ If a law helps enforce what they think they want their children to do, it is good. If they can see that it might stop them from having absolute control over their children, it is bad. The former usually negates the latter due to ‘It could never happen to me.’ thinking.

  15. 15
    mai naem says:

    Firstly, I understood that you have to show an id showing you are fifteen to get Plan B. Secondly, it’s $50 which for most kids I know is still considered a chunk of change. Thirdly, yes, I wouldn’t have a problem with an 12 year old. I’m not thrilled about it but, for the vast majority of kids, it would not be an issue. I know kids do stupid things but the majority of the world is not filled with Adam Lanzas, child kidnappers and 11 year old girls having sex with multiple partners and getting pregnant multiple times and not having enough of a relationship with their parent to tell them that they’re pregnant. And this is coming from somebody who was absolutely petrified of my parents finding out I did anything wrong.

  16. 16
    MattR says:

    @kerFuFFler: Took me a while to realize that there were two rulings that occurred at about the same time. One was thr FDA announcing that it was relaxig its rules so that anyone 15 or older could get it over the counter. The other was a judge’s ruling saying that the previous FDA rules (prohibiting it to all minors, IIRC) had no scientific basis and that it had to be available to anyone over the counter. The Obama administration is appealing that ruling.

    I can’t quite figure out which of these rulings Parker objects to (or if it is both) as her arguments seems to bounce back and forth between them. For example, she starts by talking about the debate allowing people as young as 15 to buy these pills but then she follows that with the questions that mistermix quoted that talk about 11 and 12 year old girls.

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    As a non-parent, my stance would probably be that it’s horrifying that a girl as young as 11 or 12 might be in a situation where she would feel the need to obtain Plan B without her parents’ knowledge or consent, but the consequences of denying her that escape hatch are so much worse for everyone that, on balance, making Plan B available to her is far less morally questionable than forcing a 12-year-old to give birth.

  18. 18
    DonBoy says:

    Is it a cheap shot to notice that according to WP Parker has three sons, but no daughters?

  19. 19
    ThresherK says:

    @kerFuFFler: Slippery slope, both literal and figurative.

    I mean, if a 15-y.o. teenaged girl starts letting a boy kiss her on the neck, we all know where that’s going.

  20. 20
    Nicole says:

    I have a son, but I sure answer yes to both questions. And during the time in which I have this alleged complete control over him, you’d better believe he’ll be getting the HPV vaccine. All I can do is teach him how to be responsible; I can’t make him actually be responsible. But I can do my part to minimize the damage his potential future irresponsibility will do to anyone else.

    I know we love to bash Ayn Rand here, but she wrote a really good piece (pre Roe v Wade) on why abortion should be legal, and why its legality was the only moral option. For someone who didn’t have kids herself she did understand that it’s a huge amount of work, best done by those who actually want to undertake it:

    “The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.”

    Someone should start asking Kathleen Parker why she hates children so much that she wants to condemn 11 and 12 year old girls to a life of misery.

  21. 21
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: Bingo. They think they the parents have absolute control over everything that enters their child’s mind or body (including healthcare) except when its the holy snowflake, in which case the govt must intervene and over-rule parental, especially maternal control. It’s their right to essentially cripple their child (shades of property) emotionally, intellectually, educationally, if not physically by some of the the odder medico-religio beliefs, but mere mothers must submit to social and governmental control irrespective of her own beliefs or risk to her own life and pop that tot out.

  22. 22
    Ash Can says:

    Considering the physical damage a pregnancy can do to a young girl, I hope to goodness that Kathleen Parker isn’t a parent.

  23. 23

    @scav:
    Again, I disagree. You’re forgetting how selfishness changes that thinking. They must own their children, and abortion being illegal HELPS them own their children. In the process they end up partly owning other people’s children, but their own rights are the only rights that matter.

    They have other reasons to want abortion to be illegal, but it does not in any way conflict with their feeling that children are property.

  24. 24
    Ruckus says:

    #2 – Yes
    #3 – No

    I don’t have to be a parent to understand that children of 11-12 probably are not mature enough to understand the ramifications of sex. But that doesn’t matter, they had sex, let’s deal with that and insure that the situation does not escalate into a much bigger long term, and to the affected person, an undesirable situation. I believe that an 11-12 yr old, or for that matter any woman of any age who needs it, should be able to control her own body, with full access to any and all necessary health care, with no one else needing to know past her Dr.

  25. 25
    cmm says:

    And of course, making everyone dwell on the imagined spectacle of 12 year olds buying Plan B obscures the completely reasonble image of a college student or 20 something or hell, 40 something year old woman able to do something as eminently sensible as buy some Plan B without going through a whole hassle with a doc appointment.

  26. 26
    YellowJournalism says:

    @lojasmo: Possible reactions to the drug are my only concern at this point, but it’s not enough to restrict it.

    And this is where Planned Parenthood or some other health clinic would be best to assist women and girls. Ideally, there would be emergency counselling and medical advice at “your friendly neighborhood PP,” and all clinics would be located in reasonably accessible locales.

  27. 27
    bemused says:

    Oy, so many parents are in denial that some teens are very sexually active and they may very well be their own kids.

  28. 28
    greenergood says:

    So she won’t let her 12 yr old daughter have access to Plan B, which could save her daughter’s life both literally and figuratively, but don’t try and take Your First Rifle from her 5 yr old son’s clumsy hands. Jeesh …

    DFH time – Kahlil Gibran via Sweet Honey in the Rock:

    Your children are not your children;
    they are the sons and the daughters of life’s
    longing for itself.
    They come through you, but they are not from you,
    and though they are with you, they belong not to you.
    You can give them your love, but not your thoughts –
    they have their own thoughts.
    You can house their bodies, but not their souls –
    for their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You can strive to be like them, but you cannot make them just like you.

  29. 29
    FridayNext says:

    Didn’t the right wing just pick its collective panties out of their ass after clutching their pearls over the thought that “it takes a village” to raise children?

    How is setting ANY legal age to buy ANYTHING not asking “the village” to help raise their children.

    Also, what people like Parker fail to realize, among other things, is that when some kids say their parents will kill them over some matter, they actually have parents who might kill them.

  30. 30
    YellowJournalism says:

    @bemused: You know what those parents get called?

    Grandparents

  31. 31
    Keith says:

    @YellowJournalism: And then they start the “Ohhh, I feel so old now that I’m a grandparent at 35. Oh, woe is me!” complaining.

  32. 32
    RSA says:

    Elsewhere Parker writes,

    Universal background checks are access to Plan B is a perfectly good idea, except… Those guns prescriptions are now in circulation among an element of society that has no intention of submitting to a background an ID check or any other well-intentioned effort to ensure that only good guys girls have guns Plan B.

  33. 33
    kerFuFFler says:

    @FridayNext:

    How is setting ANY legal age to buy ANYTHING not asking “the village” to help raise their children.

    Exactly! The right wing likes to act all offended at the “apparent” collectivism of having villages raise children, but they are often clamoring for community standards to be enforced over pornography, movie ratings, dress codes…

    The “village” is not just about progressive tax rates; it’s also about community standards that protect kids.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @RSA:

    Kathleen Parker is one confused Gladys Kravitz, you know.

    Or Helen Lovejoy. Take your pick.

  35. 35
    bemused says:

    @YellowJournalism:

    Funny and too often true!

    Parents not in denial have teens that tell them the truth and they make sure their teens know about and use bc. The horse is out of the barn already and realistic parents’ priority for their teens is avoiding pregnancy and stds. If one teen is sexually active, their group of friends probably are too. When a teen couple breaks up they often remain friends and sometimes are friends with benefits which I learned from friends who had or have teens in senior high. No pregnancies that I know of either so they are obviously using bc.

  36. 36
    scav says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: The fact that they think they’re logical is not proof of logical consistecy other than in their minds.

  37. 37
    scav says:

    @scav: The gist of the problem is it’s structurally equivalent to THEIR religious freedom entailing being able to restrict and limit the religious freedom of others.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @scav:

    Absolutely. It’s pretty much like Randism, where the liberty of the Randite individual is prioritized over the liberty of everyone else.

  39. 39

    @scav:
    Absolutely true. No one else has any rights. Rights can only apply to them. It’s narcissist thinking. It’s also abusive parent thinking. And alcoholic thinking. And you’ll hear it used in most conservative arguments.

  40. 40
    Meg says:

    Fox news is really going crazy on this Plan B thing.
    Now they are asking if Obama’s daughters are on it or not.
    Also they claim Obama is promoting statutory rape.
    At the same time they think we should celebrate teen pregnancy.
    Talking about being all over the place on the issue!

  41. 41
    Nicole says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I see the argument now, but I disagree. It relies on empathy, an understanding that other people have families, and on facts. Making abortion illegal extends their power over their own family by helping keep their daughters ignorant of the existence of sex. They have no concept that they might regret this decision later – they want to force their special snowflake to remain innocent now.

    The problem I see with this argument is that for many of these parents, when the lack of a rubber hits the road, they are often more than willing to assist their own daughters in getting abortions, meanwhile not changing their position on abortion being morally wrong one whit. I agree with you about lack of empathy (many wrongs in this world, I think, can be ascribed to that) but the opposition to abortion comes out of something besides trying to keep their own daughters’ legs crossed.

  42. 42
    debbie says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Wow, I’d forgotten about Gladys, but you’re right, she’s the perfect analogy for Parker. A little less smug, but every bit as judgmental.

  43. 43
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    As a non-parent, my stance would probably be that it’s horrifying that a girl as young as 11 or 12 might be in a situation where she would feel the need to obtain Plan B without her parents’ knowledge or consent, but the consequences of denying her that escape hatch are so much worse for everyone that, on balance, making Plan B available to her is far less morally questionable than forcing a 12-year-old to give birth.

    I am a parent, of girls, and I agree with this 100%.

  44. 44
    cathyx says:

    Any 11 or 12 year old who is having sex has either absent parents and/or bad parents. Either way, not getting pregnant should be a priority.

  45. 45
    Quarks says:

    I’m not a parent, but I was 12 once, living down the street from an 11 year old who was raped. And then we all whispered “think she’s going to have a baby?”

    So, hell, yes, I would sell Plan B to a 12 year old.

  46. 46
    Maude says:

    @cathyx:
    What would you do? Lock up the girl 24 hours a day?
    Girls can be very sneaky.

  47. 47
    cathyx says:

    @Maude: So it’s either total freedom or locked up 24 hours a day as a choice? What about supervising them? Knowing where they are and who they’re with all of the time is a good start.

  48. 48

    @Nicole:
    Anti-abortion has multiple causes. I’m claiming that ONE of them is that it (in their heads) helps them own their children. It is consistent with the view of children as property.

    I personally think the main motivator for anti-abortion movements right now is tribalism. By screaming ‘baby killers!’ they can get a really warm feeling that Xtians are the good guys and everyone else is evil. Since fundamentalist Christianity is slowly dying, they have a rabid need to impose their culture on everyone else. Together, abortion (a minor issue fifty years ago) is now the #1 issue for zealots all across the Christian spectrum.

  49. 49
    Keith says:

    @Meg: It seems like only yesterday that Fox News had little to say when Rick Perry was *mandating* that “statutory-aged” girls get vaccinated against HPV.

  50. 50
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Kathleen Parker is Bobo with boobs.

    Excuse me while I find my neuralizer. Ahhhhhh! Now, what were you saying?

  51. 51
    Tonal Crow says:

    @aimai: JC won’t fix the “spam filter” until we Go Galt on his “site rebuild” campaigns.

  52. 52
    Maude says:

    @cathyx:
    They can have cell phones and call their mothers or the mothers can call them. The girls can lie.
    They can say they are in one place and not where they are at all.
    You can’t control people every second.

  53. 53
    JoyfulA says:

    @Maude: And why would you want to know where a school-age child is every second? That’s a hell of a way to raise an independent adult.

    The kids I know who grew up that way did not turn out well.

  54. 54
  55. 55
    Nicole says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I personally think the main motivator for anti-abortion movements right now is tribalism.

    I absolutely agree with you. Didn’t the Southern Evangelists go all Pro-Life after Carter moved to end tax breaks on so-called religious private schools that really were just an excuse to keep their kids from having to attend integrated schools?

  56. 56
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    While I think that concerns about how any drug will behave with an adolescent vs an adult are perfectly valid, I have one huge reason to want this made available to young teens.

    Sexual abuse.

    If making it available means that an 11 or 12 year old doesn’t have to carry her father’s/uncle’s/neighbor’s baby to term when her mother refuses to believe such a thing could have happened until it’s way too late, then I’m all for it.

  57. 57

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:
    Here here. Hint, folks: Most of those sexually precocious tweens were jump-started by their parent or guardian. One of the major pillars of treating children as property is pretending that doesn’t happen.

  58. 58

    […] Obviously, I’m not the only parent who feels this way: […]

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Nicole:

    Didn’t the Southern Evangelists go all Pro-Life after Carter moved to end tax breaks on so-called religious private schools that really were just an excuse to keep their kids from having to attend integrated schools?

    Yup.

  60. 60
    cathyx says:

    @JoyfulA: @Maude: Ok, now I know who’s kids are having sex at 11 and 12.

  61. 61
    nellcote says:

    I’d like to see some safety testing by someone other than the manufacturers. The FDA is relying on their honesty in this.

  62. 62
    dabba says:

    A kid can “own” and use a gun at age 12 (or age 5), but can’t buy a Plan B pill at the drugstore.

    Interesting.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @nellcote:

    Various formulations of the Pill have been in public use since 1965 and all of the side effects seem to be pretty well-known. The Plan B type of formulation has been in use via prescription since at least 1997. I’m not sure what new and dangerous side effect you’re picturing could be.

    Keep in mind that most of the serious side effects of the Pill (blood clots, depression, etc.) are tied to daily use. Plan B is two doses in two days.

  64. 64
    gvg says:

    Incest is the whole reason for wanting Plan B availible for OTC no prescription for very young girls. I had not known this until a couple of years ago when Sister Doc causally mentioned the fact that multiple states have had legal requirements to genetically test babies born to underage girls and found a very high percentage were from incest. Also it was mostly in the 11-13 age and dropped off sharply towards 16. I can’t recall the exact % but I would never have guessed there was that much incest in the world. She also said the states that had tracked that, varied quite a bit in demographics and religiousness but the results were pretty much the same.

    We are both foster mom’s and part of the training was that a lot of bio parents had trouble not blaming/guilt shaming children who were abused young. they could be supportive at the time but several years later when the child reached normal sexual interest there could be problems. Sexual child abuse is horrible and causes a lot of long term problems. We all know that in theory but the case studies I had to learn were…hard.

    Which brings up the point that maybe we need to track when a kid needs the plan. Problem is, that probably will only scare them off.

  65. 65
    kdub says:

    I’m reminded of the scene in that movie 1964, where the male character had to go to the drugstore and buy condoms, and of course they were kept behind the counter. Now, its no worry but I think the same process is underway here. I don’t know enough about Plan B, but some of the pushback is probably old-fogeyism and KP imagining all the sex she may have had in her youth if only she didn’t have the persistent threat of pregnancy hanging over her head.

    Since I don’t have kids, and otherwise don’t plan to, I don’t have a dog in this fight, so it has been interesting to see the various scare tactics employed from both sides trying to hit emotional buttons.

  66. 66
    Djur says:

    @Maude: What do you expect from someone who wanted the military to continue discriminating against women because it slightly reduced the tiny chance that her daughters might be drafted and killed in a war?

  67. 67
    Larkspur says:

    @cmm:

    And of course, making everyone dwell on the imagined spectacle of 12 year olds buying Plan B obscures the completely reasonable image of a college student or 20 something or hell, 40 something year old woman able to do something as eminently sensible as buy some Plan B without going through a whole hassle with a doc appointment.

    Thank you, cmm. We’re discussing this as if 11 – 15 year old girls are the main prospective consumers of Plan B.

    It’s similar to the question of later-term abortion. Most abortions are early. (More would be early if it weren’t so hard to find a provider these days.) Women who want a late-term abortion want it because of something catastrophic, something unexpected, in really dire circumstances.

    Similarly, I’m guessing that most women and girls seeking Plan B are doing so because their usual birth control failed, or some other anomalous circumstance that can happen in the life of a sexually active woman. I do not think the main users of Plan B are going to be 12 year-olds. I think that getting too focused on very young girls skews our thinking in a similar way as can happen when we think of abortion as typically late-term. Late-term abortion is not typical, it is rare, and it is essential for those who need it. Look, most 12 to 15 year olds will tell their parents. Those who can’t or won’t need us even more. If a very young acquaintance of mine asked me to buy it for her, I’d try to get her to involve her parents, or consult with a doctor at Planned Parenthood, but yes, I’d buy it for her.

  68. 68
    maurinsky says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m the mother of 2 daughters, and this is where I am. I think a 12 year old girl who is pregnant may have been coerced into having sex in the first place, or has other issues that require assistance that led her to having sex when she’s too young to do so, both of which would make her unfit for motherhood, let alone the dangers of pregnancy.

  69. 69
    keestadoll says:

    Have I missed a comment or two in this thread that mentions the probability that a 15 year old girl likely has no fucking clue about her family medical history or possible underlying genetic predisposition that might make taking Plan B a dangerous option? I’m assuming this notion has been vetted and the smartest decision makers have concluded that the vast majority of otc Plan B purchasers will read the insert and take all medical risks into consideration before popping one in and washing it down with a diet coke or a red bull.

  70. 70
    Not Sure says:

    I would think if we had a girl that age who got in trouble, God only knows what would be going through her mind. I would think she’d get her mother alone and talk about it (she’s pretty progressive about this stuff), but you never know. A sixth-grader carrying a child to term is a profoundly dumb idea, in my opinion as a non-MD, so however she deals with it is fine by me as long as she deals with it in a safe way.

    Of course, I would prefer that we parents would have the opportunity to talk to her about the whole thing, just to make sure she’s got her head screwed on right. But in the real world…

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