Today, another little victory was delivered to the Women’s Right’s movement, in the form of Plan-B being offered to women over the counter.
Now, for women like me, who live in a mid-sized city that has easy access to a clinic such as Planned Parenthood, as well as within a couple short miles from three well-known hospitals, getting a prescription for Plan B is a nonissue. However, for women in rural areas, or women who are otherwise disenfranchised, by being able to walk into any pharmacy and buy this pill is a huge victory.
True, if taken within 72 hours (or, even, 120 hours), Plan-B is overwhelmingly effective at PREVENTING pregnancy. If you have already implanted (the medical definition of pregnancy), Plan-B will not harm the fetus. Plan-B is not an “abortifacent,” as much as the Religious Right would lead you to believe. However, the sooner you take this pill, the more effective it is, and sometimes having to wait even a few hours (if not an extra day) for a prescription can make all the difference in whether or not you become pregnant.
However, as I noted, this is a little victory. Plan-B is only available to women over the age of 18. Never mind that, in most states, the sexual consent laws are below the age of 18 (most states have consent laws at 16 or 17). Never mind that countless doctors and other medical experts have deemed Plan-B unequivocably safe for any woman of childbearing age to take. This was the Right’s dig.
Yet, still, it is a huge victory. You do not need parental consent to obtain Plan-B if you are under 18, just a prescription – which, for some women, is far easier to obtain than the former. And, women throughout the United States now have greater access to medicine that allows them to take control of their bodies.
Those who promote what I like to call The War on Sex do not want such ready access to contraception, because they think that pregnancy should be a “consequence” to sex. The same people who rail against a women’s right to choose, calling it “barbaric” and “murderous” don’t seem to realize that it is just as barbaric to sentence a child to a life of being unwanted and unloved. Children shouldn’t be a punishment, they should be a gift! Forcing women to bear children they don’t want is hardly the solution. I think most women agree that by offering options for prevention, we can make both abortion AND unwanted pregnancies obsolete.
Yet, the road has been paved with little victories. From gaining the right to own property, the right to vote, the right to make our own decisions, access to health care not because we might bear sons but for ourselves, concentration on issues that affect us, education, equitable wages, rape laws, sexual assault laws, sexual harrassment laws … the list goes on.
Each of these victories was a small one when we got it. A victory we should have had years before. Imperfect in their wordings and applications. But, regardless, they are still victories, and we should celebrate them.