In the first 75 years of the 20th century, the United States was really interested in tackling problems affecting children. The federal government consulted public figures. Women spoke of children’s well-being: Eleanor Roosevelt, Lillian Wald, Grace Abbott. Problems like child labor, poverty, juvenile delinquency and malnourishment led to the creation of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, to “investigate and report on all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people.” Then abortion came along, which although controversial, limited the controversy to the world of adults.
Not anymore. Despite Obama’s discomfort with allowing children to buy the Plan B One-Step pill, known as the “morning after pill,” his administration and the FDA are going to stop fighting the courts on the order to make this very serious drug available to children of any age, with no prescription and no adult. Little girls won’t even need to enlist a 15 year old friend to buy it for them. Once again, we hear the voice of Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, praising one more “huge breakthrough…for women’s health and equity,” just as fervently as she condemns Cardinal Dolan for pointing out that New York has higher abortion rates than any state. But something about little girls buying and taking this pill alone or prodded by their equally young peers is profoundly disturbing to me as a woman and as a social worker.
And I can’t help feeling profoundly sad for all those girls. Now, when your daughter or niece go to Duane Reade for bubble gum, Hello Kitty pencils, and strawberry lip gloss, they can also get Plan B One-Step. Or maybe the man that is having sex with her will. Without you ever knowing.
Forgive my backwardness, but I don’t see how babies having abortions is any better than babies having babies. This turn of events should enrage humans on both sides of the aisle. How is forcing children to make adult decisions progress? And how can the abortion rights movement ignore how close this legislation brings the state to facilitating the abuse, emotional and sexual, of children? Back in 2011, I was a Child Protective Services worker for New York State. If children were exposed to their parents having sex at home, it was grounds for a finding of abuse and all manner of parenting classes, to teach parents what constitutes appropriate supervision of a child. I can easily see that if a neighbor sees the child next door buying Plan B that her report to the state of suspected abuse will stick. Get ready CPS workers, for a rough, gut wrenching ride and a lot more reports.
Given our gradual abandonment of commitment to children, it should not disappoint me so that now little girls can get Plan B. Child labor is back in the form of little kids selling candy on subway trains. We build no low income housing, but we house homeless children in places that frighten them for $3,000 a month. We have systematically chipped away at income support so that the cash assistance doesn’t even reach 40 percent of the poverty line. Our Food Stamp program only provides $4.50 per person per day in aid. Today’s children have diabetes and asthma. They are going to jail, and they learn the ways of the world from a computer instead of from parents. And now, girls who find themselves in an alarming adult situation are being encouraged to keep it from their parents and swallow a pill to get out of it. And parents are denied their right to parent in a situation in which the child would benefit from adult emotional support. Just another victory for the women’s rights movement won on the backs of children.
Kathleen Sebelius objected to giving Plan B to children and was accused of playing “politics” by Judge Edward Korman and Planned Parenthood. That we are leaving children to deal with serious adult problems on their own is a failure of our moral compass, but it never makes it into the discussion.
Today in America, we already have 1,210,000 abortions a year, 73 percent for economic reasons rather than because the women don’t want to be mothers. New York’s abortion rate is one of the nation’s highest. You would think that the abortion rights movement would rest. But driven by politics, not good sense, they fight for more abortion in any form. Even for children. And there is no curriculum in school that will help them to navigate this new landmine.
Meanwhile, women are fed a steady diet of praise for “independence,” in case they start thinking of trying to have that child instead of choosing abortion. This, plus exposure to an abundance of shoe sales, orgasm tips, and celebrity mom worship, distract women and men from the fact that abortion-as-contraception has become a social crisis that rivals China’s one child policy in callousness. And the girls are watching the women, and the policy, and learning from us.
Allowing children to buy Plan B One-Step denies mothers (and fathers) their right to parent; and it subjects kids to adult situations they are not equipped to handle. Any thinking adult will have a hard time accepting the public comments that this policy is a win for women’s rights rather than a defeat for childhood. But we are in this hot and heavy culture war and no one, not even a child, can be spared.