The big news out of Washington today is that the FDA, after years of politically motivated foot-dragging, suddenly approved over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, a so-called “morning-after” pill. According to the Washington Post, this decision was part of a deal that will allow Bush FDA appointee Andrew von Eschenbach obtain a permanent position (the nomination had been held up by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray precisely to obtain this result).Predictably, social conservatives blasted the decision and the underlying deal as another sell-out by the administration to business interests.
The group Concerned Women for America has led the opposition to wider availability of Plan B, and its president, Wendy Wright, criticized the administration last week for its apparent change of position. She called for von Eschenbach’s nomination to be withdrawn, citing his “pandering to political activists and a drug company.”
Whatever its motivation, the decision will presumably take distribution of Plan B out of the hands of those self-styled Pharmacists of Conscience around the country who have refused to fill prescriptions for panic-stricken and clock-watching women seeking emergency contraception.I guess now we can expect to see a new movement among Clerks of Conscience who refuse to ring up the over-the-counter drug.One thing is clear. Over on the demand side of the equation, the decision should encourage Men of Conscience to exercise a little responsibility for their own contributions to potential unwanted pregnancies by trotting their own butts down to the pharmacy and buying Plan B for their worried partners. Let them deal with the disapproving glares at the drug store counter for a change.