If anyone knows anything about 17-year-old girls and their reproductive rights, it's Mike Galanos. For who better to speak about what 17-year-olds are like than a man who graduated high school roughly two decades ago?
Galanos argues that distributing Plan B to teenage girls will, naturally, increase their slut levels from 0-100, as everyone knows that high school girls are just looking for a shot to accidentally get pregnant. "We are making it available to high school girls," Galanos argues, "We're enabling teenagers to act carelessly with an easy way out. Don't tell me high school dynamics won't play in here. The boyfriend will talk his girlfriend into unprotected sex with the promise of buying the 'morning after pill' the next day. Any 17-year-old boy will be able to buy this drug, just as any 17-year-old girl will. Yes, this could encourage unprotected sex and that means a greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases." I wonder if Galanos has the same issues with 17-year-olds buying condoms?
Galanos bases his entire argument on the notion that Plan B is some kind of gateway drug that will allow teenage girls to slut it up without consequences. He says nothing about proper sexual education, nothing about teaching kids to use protection and have safe sex so as not to find one's self in a Plan B situation, and says nothing about how even the most responsible sexually active teenagers might have an accident that requires the medicine.
In his view, 17-year-olds are all idiotic skanks who don't know the first thing about safe sex and responsibility. As Vanessa at Feministing points out: "Ah yes, now we see what Galanos is really getting at: 17-year old women are not only not responsible enough to make decisions about their bodies, but will use EC as a means to have all The Sex they want and get away with it!"
"Do we really want our daughters putting something like this in their bodies without a doctor? I still want Mom and Dad in on this," Galanos argues, "Some argue that a girl can get an abortion without parental notification in some states, so why not Plan B? But just because those states got it wrong by leaving parents out of the loop doesn't mean others should follow suit. And the larger point is, society must help parents, not undermine their rights by keeping them in the dark on their child's life-changing decision."
But Galanos also fails to mention that parental consent laws have led, in several cases, to life-ending decisions, as young women who could not access "morning after pills" or abortion clinics turned to illegal methods of terminating a pregnancy, as was the case for 17-year-old Becky Bell, who died after a botched back-alley abortion that she sought out because she was too afraid to ask her parents for permission.
As someone who actually was a 17-year-old girl at one point, unlike Galanos, the idea of supplying minors with Plan B, should they need it, is a tremendous step forward, in that it allows young women to make responsible choices regarding their sexual behavior. Perhaps we should concentrate more on education, awareness, and support for teenagers, especially those on the brink of adulthood, instead of constantly attempting to push them back into a state of adolescence, where their parents make every choice for them. Galanos bases his argument on not being able to trust teenagers, which is why his argument fails. Maybe if we stop trying to shame them, and start trying to guide them to a responsible view on sex and its consequences, we'd be much better off.