Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Why does Obama want your innocent little girl to have sex without you knowing?
The fear of an attack ad along those lines must have motivated the Obama administration’s decision today to overrule the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to allow emergency contraception to be sold on store shelves, and made available without a prescription to those under 17. There’s certainly no explanation based in science.
In an extraordinary statement, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said she agreed with an internal study that “there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for non-prescription use for all females of child-bearing potential.” But, she said, the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, disagreed. Sebelius issued her own wishy-washy statement, claiming there wasn’t enough data on the drug’s effects on adolescents.
But there is no honest public-health reason to force teenage girls to see a doctor before accessing emergency contraception. There are only political ones. (The morning-after pill will still be available at pharmacies without a prescription for women over 17.)
So what happened? Although it’s hard to believe that conservative voters would be particularly swayed by the president’s capitulation on this front, teen sex has always had a special place in paternalistic and politicized approaches to public health. It doesn’t matter that teenagers can, and do, get pregnant (or contract sexually transmitted diseases) just like women over 17. They still have to be “protected” by parental-notification laws about abortion or from comprehensive, scientifically grounded information about sex. Politically speaking, teenagers aren’t exactly a powerful voting bloc — but their terrified parents are presumed to be.
The administration also appears to have bungled its handling of natural allies. Two congresswomen, Reps. Louise Slaughter and Diana de Gette, sounded preemptively triumphant in a Huffington Post Op-Ed yesterday, calling this week “the cusp of an exciting milestone for women’s health.” Women’s groups also seem to have gotten the signal to start celebrating — whoops! Meanwhile, public health officials, who were promised “scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,” are surely feeling demoralized right about now. So is anyone who cares about reducing the country’s catastrophically high teenage pregnancy rate.
Irin Carmon is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @irincarmon or email her at email@example.com.More Irin Carmon.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.