Some good news on Chile and Plan B

Good news! Temporary injunction on free distribution of Plan B overturned: Got that?

Published September 26, 2006 4:16PM (EDT)

The temporary injunction against the Chilean government's plan to distribute Plan B free to women over the age of 14 has been lifted.

A brief recap: Emergency contraception has been legal and available by prescription and without parental consent in Chile since 2001, but for the comparatively steep price of $20. A couple of weeks ago the government, led by President Michelle Bachelet and Health Minister Soledad Barria, announced a plan so unbelievably enlightened and fair-minded that it boggles the American mind. Given that the prohibitive price of birth control and E.C. left poor women at a disadvantage, Chile would distribute birth control and Plan B for free, without parental consent, to anyone over the age of 14 who wanted it. Naturally, this policy was simply too smart and progressive to be real: Lawsuits were promptly filed by some affronted parents and conservative politicians, and a temporary injunction was placed on the program until those suits were resolved.

Well, now that injunction has been lifted, thanks to an appeals court panel in Santiago that overturned it on Sept. 21. A government spokesman said that the panel's decision "seems correct" and added that the decision "obligates [the government] to take responsibility for the profound and serious reality that the sexual initiation of young people in Chile is occurring at a very early age." Amen. But keep in mind that the lawsuits that precipitated the injunction are still pending; there should be rulings on them in coming weeks, so anything could happen.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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