Ellen Ratner is the White House correspondent and bureau chief for the Talk Radio News service. She is also Washington bureau chief and political editor for Talkers Magazine. In addition, Ratner is a news analyst at the Fox News Channel.More ↓Less ↑
This week, a federal judge ruled that the morning-after pill – known as Plan B – should be made available to young girls over the counter.
Some folks from the older generations went crazy over the ruling that made it to the front-page of most newspapers. The sex education of these older generations was quite different than the current generation coming of age now.
The Builders, the Boomers (1946-1964) and the Xs (1965-1983) obtained information in a very different way than the current generation and had a different coming-of-age experience. Some of these late Builders and early Boomers were part of the “free love” and flower-power generation. Many of us in those two generations engaged in protests on race and war and smoked pot, among other things. We were a television generation and thought we had access to a world of information. Television, was the great leveler at that time, as was radio. The Internet did not exist, even in the futuristic television programs such as “The Jetsons.”
It was in this mix that I learned about sex. I first heard that oral sex was possible in fifth grade. I did not hear about it from the sex education teacher that put up cardboard ovaries and other organs on her flannel board. I did not hear about it when they showed the birds and bees movies with the free Kotex in our parents/girls meetings held at the elementary school. I heard about it on the rapid transit from a classmate. We had the make-out parties in grade school, too. A few kids in junior high school were rumored to have gone “all the way.”
It was not until I was 16 that the word “abortion” came into my lexicon. I did not know anyone who had even thought about ending a pregnancy until I was almost 17. Birth control pills were a new invention, having come on the market in 1960, and there was little controversy among my friends. Girls asked doctors for them and got them. Sexually transmitted diseases were thought to be easily stamped out with antibiotics. There were no worries about resistance or other diseases, and there had not even been one case of HIV/AIDS.
Fast forward to Friday, when a federal judge handed down a ruling that the morning-after pill be available to people (women and girls) of all ages. He ordered that the pill be available over the counter to all, regardless of age. The brand name is called “Plan B.” The morning-after pill has been available for more than 13 years but has not been universally available. Conservatives, who believe that they can control sexuality on all fronts, have objected. The secretary of Health and Human Services ruled that younger girls would need a prescription to get the pills. Politics clearly paid a role here, as did the policymakers who don’t understand the current young generation, the Millennials.
The federal judge who ruled to give more open access did not have to worry about politics. Judge Edward Korman, who has a lifetime appointment to the bench, can concern himself more with reality. The Millennials do not have to rely on flannel boards and birds and bee movies. They don’t have to hear the facts of life from a classmate. They get information on the Internet, and they are the first generation in human history that has not needed to go to the older generation for information. To expect that they will be asking their parents or doctors for a prescription when Plan B can be bought by their older friends in the local drug store is ludicrous.
None other than the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree. If it is good enough for the doctors delivering the care to these young women, it is good enough for me. It should also be good enough for people making policy in Washington, too.