WASHINGTON, December 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the days after Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put the kibosh on the FDA’s plans to give minors over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill, numerous speculations have arisen as to how one of the most pro-abortion politicians in the United States - as well as Barack Obama himself - found themselves at odds with the nation’s top abortion lobbies.
The FDA on Wednesday responded to a request from the drug’s manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, to consider eliminating the need for a prescription.
But in announcing the final decision, FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg noted that, while Sebelius had struck down the change, Hamburg herself felt the pill should be free for use by “all females of child-bearing potential,” hinting at a a clash at the highest levels of the administration. Sebelius later explained in her own letter that, especially as such a move would expose the powerful drug to girls as young as 11, the lack of data on Plan B’s effects on younger girls prevented her approval.
While claiming no involvement in the actual decision, President Obama agreed that “the reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able - alongside bubble gum or batteries - be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect.”
Abortion advocates such as the Center for Reproductive Rights and NARAL Pro-Choice America were aghast at the news: NARAL president Nancy Keenan complained that “we expected this kind of action from the Bush administration.” The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) responded several hours later in a press release that it was “extremely disapointed.” PPFA president Cecile Richards followed up on Thursday with a public letter requesting a meeting with Sebelius, and on Friday with a critical editorial in the Huffington Post.
But abortion leaders were only as shocked as opponents of the industry, with both scratching their heads at such statements from a president renowned for his tight-knit relationship with the population control industry.
In addition, as governor of Kansas, Sebelius was especially well known as a strong defender of abortion, including the business of Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller.
Sebelius, who vetoed countless bills to regulate abortion clinics or strengthen parental rights, was heavily funded by Kansas abortions through Tiller’s political PAC and has been tightly connected to the industry in other ways, including being feted on her birthday alongside Cecile Richards at a local Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 2007.
Sebelius’ administration was even implicated in October after a years-long case alleging 23 felonies and 26 misdemeanors against the local Planned Parenthood hit a wall because key evidence had been shredded by Sebelius’ attorney general, Steve Six. Obama nominated Six for a Federal Appeals Court opening this summer.
Even as pro-life leaders praised the decision, speculation continues as to exactly how the decision came about. Several commentators have concluded that the move sought to remove ammunition from Obama’s conservative political opponents in the upcoming election year. Meanwhile, others say that the move to restrict Plan B access actually benefits Planned Parenthood.
“It is a huge financial boon for Planned Parenthood because it requires the teens to come into their facilities,” HLI America fellow Bob Laird, formerly of Tepeyac Family Center, told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN).
“Not only that, it further establishes themselves as the ‘go-to place for teen health care,’” said Laird. “I believe that the Administration was thinking of two things when they made this decision: it solidifies their alliance with Planned Parenthood, and it also allowed them to keep their voting base of over-18-year-old sexually active women happy by allowing them free sex knowing that they can stop in to the 24-hour drug store after its over for their Plan B.”
However, Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP) didn’t believe Planned Parenthood’s outrage was facetious.
“From what I’ve seen over the years of Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood is foremost, philosophically, a population control organization,” Sedlak told LSN on Friday. It’s for this reason, he said, that the organization has advocated for over-the-counter birth control of all types in the United States for “a long time.”
“I’ve read a lot of people saying, well, Planned Parenthood was not sincere when it issued its condemnation yesterday ... I don’t wholly buy into that,” he said. “I think that they really do want to have this, and I think their plan is to get Plan B available without a prescription because if they did that, there’s no argument left as to why regular birth control pills shouldn’t be available without a prescription.”
While Planned Parenthood clearly makes “millions” off their current arrangement distributing Plan B - “they sell it for 33-35 dollars and they pay 4 or 5 dollars for it, and they do over a million a year,” said Sedlak - the pro-life leader thinks that may not be Planned Parenthood’s only venue for profit.
“Planned Parenthood was part of the investment group that invested in [developing] Plan B ... so I am not sure they won’t make money if the sales go up dramatically from their initial investment in it,” he said.
In addition, Sebelius’ decision is far from the end of the story for Plan B among minors: a lawsuit is still pending against the FDA by the Center for Reproductive Rights demanding that younger girls be given over-the-counter access to the drug. A hearing on that case is scheduled for Dec. 13 on a contempt of court motion against the FDA for failing to lower the standards.
Troy Newman, whose organization followed Sebelius’ involvement with the abortion industry for years, said that in any event, he remained convinced Sebelius has “skin in the game.” “She’s going to do everything to benefit Planned Parenthood,” said Newman. “She can say she wants to protect women and children all she wants, but her track record is the exact opposite.”
Whichever the case, the move was patently in the best interest of young girls, said Mary Davenport, President of the American Association of Prolife OB-GYNs. Besides its abortifacient qualities, Plan B has been shown in several studies to increase STDs, while increasing risk of dangerous ectopic pregnancies, and remaining a popular “date rape” drug for use by sexual predators, Davenport told LSN.