I'm not sure why a 5 year old would want it, but have you heard about this ruling?

A federal judge ruled Friday that the morning-after pill, known by its brand name of Plan B, should be available without a prescription or any age or point-of-sale restrictions within 30 days. (source)

With the drug having become available over the counter, the judge ruled that the FDA had overstepped it's mandate, which had only to do with determining the safety of drugs. They have no mandate to set age limits or set standards for the sale of safe drugs.

Anyway, the question here is directed at the parents among us, and especially those with children at or approaching an age when sexual activity potentially begins. Do you have any mixed feelings about this? Do you feel that up to a certain age (16? 18?) children should at least have to see a physician before obtaining them? Not to talk them out of abortion but at least to discuss the medical issues (potential exposure to STD's, side effects, etc.).

Please identify yourself as a non-parent when you comment, if that is the case.

Tags: after, birth, contraception, control, morning, pill

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Those side effects are listed on virtually every medicine known to man.  Plan B is very safe, and would not be offered OTC were it not.  I would consider this a better option than a pregnant 14 year old or abortion, though not as well thought out or mature as condoms/birth control/abstinence. 

There are many drugs available OTC that aren't suitable for young children, yet people don't seem to be as worried about them as they are about this one. Why is that?

So that if the law prevents THEM from playing the role of parent, maybe a doctor can?

Non-parent.  Though I have noticed that when someone is expecting a baby girl, jokes about buying a shotgun for them for the baby shower are generally considered funny.

We are trying to balance the issue of making sure someone doesn't do something harmful to themselves (via taking a potentially dangerous drug) out of ignorance vs. causing it to happen because they are afraid of retribution from knuckledragging parents (because they beat the tar out of their daughter for having sex).  The latter fear is the rationale for insisting that adolescent girls be allowed to seek out risky medical procedures without their parents' consent, which would normally be required without controversy.  (You need a parent's consent to get your ear pierced, but apparently not for an abortion, a far more invasive procedure.)

Factual question:  does "over the counter" mean you have to ask someone to hand you the package over the counter?  (If not, the phrase "off the shelf" should perhaps be used.)  If so that would be the person who should warn of the side effects; the teenager in the "oops" situation already has to tell them she's going to take it. 

Even having to ask a stranger in a pharmacy might be considered too much of a barrier to access, so perhaps it's truly "off the shelf" then go through the self-check-out and pay cash (though as I recall the stuff is pretty expensive).  At which point the only way to ensure that the side effects are known is to make a discussion of the side effects part of sex education; that way the information gets broadcast rather than targeted to someone in the sticky position of needing the drug RTFN while having to keep it a secret.  Of course that assumes that sex ed is taught (again over the objections of the knuckledraggers) and that the girl paid attention.

The fundamental issue is that people are physically ready to do some very adult things long before society actually frees them to do so on their own responsibility; childhood is artificially lengthened.

Factual question:  does "over the counter" mean you have to ask someone to hand you the package over the counter?

From what I've read, no. It can be on the same display where condoms, pregnancy tests, personal lubricants, etc., are on display. I suppose the drugstore could voluntarily put it behind the counter. Unless the teen plans to steal it (one reason for keeping behind the counter) they still have to go to the checkout line, as you noted.

The fundamental issue is that people are physically ready to do some very adult things long before society actually frees them to do so on their own responsibility; childhood is artificially lengthened.

People are physically ready to drive at age 8 or 10, I suppose, but we don't let them do that by just going out and starting up a car and driving away. We want them to know some things first. Most of the societies where childhood isn't artificially lengthened are societies that aren't ready to join the club of nations which don't artificially lengthen childhood,

Anyway, how long childhood should be may be relative to the complexity of the world they are moving into.

As for avoiding knuckledragging parents, no one is recommending sending them somewhere to be pressured into adoption or giving the baby away, least of all their own parents. However, is seeing a doctor or counselor first too much to ask?

RE: "Your 5 year old can now buy the morning after pill!" - not unless I raise his allowance, which I have no intention of doing --

His? Hmmm. 

Well "he" could always shoplift it if it isn't behind the counter or subject to Rx.

Well, you weren't specific --

Inasmuch as virtually all medical authorities have said that the “morning-after pill” is perfectly safe, I see no need for it to be regulated any more than, say, aspirin, in terms of who may or may not purchase it.  I am not a parent.  But I do have a 13 year old niece, and I would prefer she purchase the pill rather than be forced to carry an unwanted fetus to term, or undergo an abortion, just because she feared telling her parents she had sex.  Admittedly, though, I have no idea where her parents stand on this issue, and it's none of my business. 

The people who are outraged over this are the same ones who are outraged over sex education in schools.  They think that if you keep children ignorant about sex they won’t ever have any.  In this case, they seem to think that if children under a designated age are denied “Plan B,” they won’t have sex.  Yeah, right!

But the biggest reason I support free access to the pill is that it will enrage the euphemistically-named “Right To Life” crowd.  If, in their fevered delusions,  some imaginary 5 year old were able to get pregnant, they would demand that she bear the child, because she is - you know - female, and thus not entitled to make any decision regarding her own reproductive health.     

I see were others here are objecting because of various possible side effects.  But if that's the basis of their objections, they should be consistent and demand there be no such thing as over-the-counter medications of any kind, since they all come with possible side effects.  The aforementioned aspirin, for instance, can be quite dangerous if used improperly.  I, personally, rarely purchase any of the OTC nostrums because of possible side effects.  However, if I don't take some OTC medication, the consequences, IF ANY, would most likely be temporary.  But if my daughter did not have access to the pill, her consequences could last the rest of her life.

@ Bella Rose..

" And while we're at it we may as well designate a place where teens can get dank and coke. They're going to need it for their night out. May as well throw in a free hotel room. They need to be comfortable. Their parents won't find out right? It's a personal choice."

I would liken this to the argument against gay marriage that keeps popping up, that if it is allowed then all of a sudden beastiality and pedo's will have all that they want as well.  Dealing with the reality of teens having sex and also not having the best judgement about most things is why this pill should be available OTC.  The side effects, as Korsan stated, are far outweighed by having a child when one is not ready for it. 

oh yeah, non parent

@Jimmy Russell: I can see why you may think "liken" one statement to the other but you are missing one crucial element here. I'm all for gay marriage/equality etc. But I'm personally very protective of the teenage population because I myself did a lot of dumb shit during those years and I have made it a point to invest in teenagers to prevent them going down the same road. I worry about girls thinking they can pop these pills like they are candy. And if no one warns them they COULD have lasting effects. The side effects previously stated are assuming the drug is taken "as recommended" and not abused. But 12 year old girls don't know necessarily to do this. I agree it should be available but after atleast talking to a nurse. That's how it was available to me when I was a teenager, my parents never found out and I never ended up with any unwanted pregnancies.

Remember, Belle, Jimmy Russell is a non-parent. He is more likely than a parent to see things from the teen's point of view UNTIL he has children of his own. 

To the same degree a sober person sees things different than a drunk one. Of course people see things different when they're parents, biological factors and chemicals jump in.

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