Plan B and the Choice To Become A Mother

Here’s a good post from The Feminist Breeder about the Plan B pill.  The short story is that the FDA was set to approve OTC sales of Plan B, but at the last moment the Secretary of Health and Human Services intervened, making it impossible for young women under age 17 to get Plan B without a prescription.  The issue is now before a federal judge.

Becoming a mother I think creates more nuance in one’s feelings about reproductive decisions, and this is an issue people have strong feelings about.  The topic might not seem immediately relevant to a blog about motherhood.  But it is.  I think we’re all getting this stuff wrong when we frame discussions about reproductive liberty in terms of “choice” to have an abortion or not.  In fact, I think the word “abortion” distracts us from the alternative.

I think the discussion should be from a different angle. These are the real choices:  

Are you prepared to saddle yourself with the profound physical changes and logistics of managing a healthy pregnancy?  Yes or no?  

Are you ready to be responsible for the care of your body during a pregnancy?  Yes or no?  

Do you have access to health care and a place where you can get good, caring, evidence-based prenatal, puerperal and postpartum healthcare and education about childbirth?  

Are you prepared to turn yourself inside out to meet the physical and emotional challenges of labor and childbirth?

Are you prepared to use your body and time and sanity for the care of a creature who can’t talk, can’t walk, can’t even move, and relies on your bodily fluids for her very survival twenty-four hours a day, and are you prepared to undertake this in a culture where your school or job aren’t required to even give you some time off to begin to deal with it?  

Are you prepared to reinvent yourself in the role of caretaker, guide, mentor, educator, and shepherd a new human being from tiny baby into adulthood, and are you prepared to educate yourself about how to do this in a way that she turns out happy, well-adjusted and a contributing citizen?  

Are you prepared to handle the hassles and the disappointments and the frustrations and the time-suck and the logistical nightmares that go on for years and years, and the way that society denigrates you and stops taking you seriously when you’re a mother, and the hurdles you will face in your career because you’ve got a kid?  


What kind of world is it when we say to someone:  even if the answer to all of these is NO, you have to do it.  Choice is the only civilized option.

People Are Still Having Sex; they always will.  It is what adults do, for pleasure, for self-expression, for love; not just for reproduction.  It is delusional to imagine that there could ever be a world in which adults don’t have sex for pleasure.  

But sex can lead to pregnancy.  And becoming a mother is an enormous, serious undertaking.  Whether the person confronting these questions is still a child herself, or is over 17, it is wrong to force her to do it when she knows the answer is “no.” How can we say she is too young to make this decision but also say she is old enough to become a mother, the biggest responsibility of all?

If Plan B is safe enough to be available over the counter, it should be available over the counter for anyone who needs to purchase it.