Double Dose: Plan B, The Gold Standard of Political Hypocrisy and Political Influence on Public Health

July 13, 2007

The Popularity of Plan B: “The popularity of the morning-after pill Plan B has surged in the year since the federal government approved the sale of the controversial emergency contraceptive without a prescription,” reports the Washington Post. But advocates for women’s health are quick to note that teenagers under age 18 still do not have access.

“There’s no medical basis for restricting teenagers’ access to emergency contraception,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, which is suing the FDA to remove the age restriction. “This not about morality, it’s about public health and cutting America’s alarmingly high teenage pregnancy rates.”

Plus: The teen birth rate hits a record low. Here’s the government study on which the data is based.

Think This Would Fly in U.S. Schools?: The award-winning Romanian film about abortion, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” will be shown in French schools, “following a u-turn by government officials who had initially vetoed plans to show it,” reports The Guardian. “As well as winning the top prize at Cannes, Cristian Mungiu’s film was the recipient of the National Education Prize, which is awarded to a Cannes-selected film with the relevant artistic, aesthetic and educational values each year. The chosen film then receives government funding to allow a special educational DVD to be produced for upper-secondary schools, which teach children between the ages of 15 and 18.”

OBOB previously covered abortion in movies and “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” here.

Going for the Gold: “If hypocrisy were an Olympic event, Senator Vitter would get the gold medal,” writes James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, apologized after his name appeared on the client list of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the “D.C. Madam.” Vitter is also chief backer of a bill to reauthorize funding for abstinence education.

But Viiter “wouldn’t be the only ‘family values’ champion lining up for the gold,” adds Wagoner, who goes on to name a few other contenders.

Reality Bites: Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified before Congress this week that his term was compromised by political pressure to weaken or suppress important public health information. The accusations would seem surreal if we haven’t all been reminded in so many ways how backward this administration has been:

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

Trading Shots Over a Vaccine: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the competition between Merck and GlaxoSmithKline to develop the world’s top cervical-cancer immunization.

That Pew Survey on Mothers And Work: Good analysis from Echidne of the Snakes on Pew’s latest survey.

Bridal Media Send “I-Do” Message on Overspending: “Where once a bride could design a memorable day using an etiquette guide and a good caterer, the specialized wedding media of today feed a $161 billion per year industry enriched at the expense of many of the people it purports to serve,” writes Sheila Gibbons at Women’s eNews.

Is Soap Clean?: This was an ongoing debate one year in my college dorm … The New York Times answers the burning question about sharing individual bars of soap.