In our opinion: The morning after

Published: Friday, May 3 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) tablet, one of the brands known as the "morning-after pill."

Teva Women's Health, Associated Press

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Just because a drug may be safe for a girl to use, in terms of how it interacts with the body, does not mean its use — and the behaviors that make its use necessary — are healthy for the normal development of a child.

That distinction seems lost on Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and on advocates such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Korman has ordered the Obama administration to make so-called morning-after pills, which can prevent or terminate pregnancies within hours of inception, available over the counter, without a prescription and without any age barriers.

Under his order, a child, regardless of age, could obtain the drug without notifying parents and without any adult involvement or consultation.

The Obama administration is correct to appeal this decision as an overreach of Judge Korman's authority. Scientific facts and politics should not be the only factors in deciding such issues.

The president, who is father to two daughters, understands this well.

If a young girl is sexually active, that ought to be of utmost concern to every adult in her life. Her parents or guardians ought to be aware and actively working with her to eliminate that behavior and return her to a path of healthy adolescent development.

Society's official infrastructure — its laws and courts in particular — ought to be aligned in helping parents reinforce these important truths, not to standing as enablers of behavior that undermines healthy development and, by extension, the familial pillar in society.

Anyone looking for science ought to be persuaded by the many studies that show the harmful affects of adolescent sexual activity. Girls, in particular, are more likely to experience depression and perform poorly in school when they engage in such behavior. They also tend to have more sex partners during their lives than their peers who practice abstinence.

Strong family bonds and parental engagement have been shown to be effective in promoting such abstinence. All branches of government ought to be promoting and encouraging these bonds, if for no other reason than for society's long-term stability and prosperity.

Earlier this week the Food and Drug Administration announced that the morning-after pill known as Plan B One-Step would be available to girls as young as 15. Currently, the age limit is 17. Interestingly, the administration has been at war with its own FDA at times over this issue. The secretary of health and human services overruled the FDA once already when it wanted to eliminate age restrictions.

The court ruling has no effect on the FDA decision, which places the age barrier far too low. Frankly, 17 is too young for over-the-counter access to a drug that would give the illusion of sex being free of consequences.

The United States is becoming saturated by a culture that suggests sexual promiscuity is inevitable and unstoppable, and even not so harmful, while it places strict age limits on other behaviors from drinking alcohol to driving and smoking cigarettes. The consequences of such negligence will destroy lives and be difficult to reverse.

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