Friday, June 14, 2013

Better Late Than Never

Ralph Nader is right.  And so is Barack Obama, whom Nader refers to as a "con man."   In December, 2010 the legendary consumer advocate realized the President "has no fixed principles. He's opportunistic — he goes for expedience, like Clinton. Some call him temperamentally conflict-averse. If you want to be harsher, you say he has no principles and he's opportunistic... He's a con man. I have no use for him."

His impressions confirmed, Nader, according to Mediaite, last week maintained Obama lacks "The one ingredient you want when you vote for somebody… it’s their moral courage and the fire in the belly... That’s what makes all the difference in the world.”

Still, let's give the Administration credit for a wise judgement made recently, when Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius reversed an earlier action defended by the President.   The Guardian of the United Kingdom- Glenn Greenwald's current employer- reported Monday

The Obama administration will stop trying to limit sales of emergency contraception pills, making the morning-after pill available to women of all ages without a prescription.

The US justice department said in a letter on Monday that it planned to comply with a court's ruling to allow unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step and that it would withdraw its appeal on the matter.

The move is the latest in a lengthy legal fight over the morning-after pill, which was until recently only available without a prescription to women 17 and older who presented proof of age at a pharmacist's counter.

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the FDA said the limit unfairly kept women and girls from accessing the drug, which is most effective when taken within 72 hours of intercourse.

On 5 April US district Judge Edward Korman said the US Food and Drug Administration had been "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable" in rejecting a citizen petition to make emergency contraception available over the counter to girls of all ages.

Korman ordered the FDA to make emergency contraception available without age and point-of-sale restrictions but said the agency could lift restrictions on only the one-pill version of the drug, Plan B One-Step, if the FDA believed there was a significant difference between that and the two-pill version.

The justice department will not seek to lift restrictions on the two-pill Plan B product, which it says is significantly different from the one-pill version.

The FDA in April granted a petition from Plan B One-Step's maker, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, to make the pill available without a prescription to girls as young as 15.

The FDA said it would lift the remaining age restriction on Plan B One-Step once it received the appropriate application from Teva. Teva declined to comment.

Annie Tummino, lead plaintiff and co-ordinator of the National Women's Liberation, said: "This decision by the administration affirms what feminists have been fighting for all along: the morning-after pill should be available to females of all ages, on the shelf at any convenience store, just like aspirin or condoms."

Amid the largely trumped-um Benghazi scandal, the completely trumped-up IRS scandal, the largely ignored AP story, and the disturbing report of the collection of phone records and Internet records by the NSA, this change of heart on the part of the Obamites was completely ignored.  And it is a big thing for which the President and the Secretary deserve credit, though a court order shouldn't have been necessary for them to come to their senses.

Nevertheless, Nader accurately observed that Obama doesn't have "the fire in the belly" necessary to do the right thing when confronted by the fury of conservatives.  The Guardian added

Plan B has been a political lightning rod. In 2011, after the FDA decided to approve over-the-counter sales with no age limits, US health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius had ordered it to reverse course, barring girls under 17 from buying the pills without a prescription.

Barack Obama supported that restriction, invoking his daughters. But the timing, 11 months ahead of the presidential election, sparked criticism that he was trying to placate social conservatives.

Standing for re-election, the President understood the tactical advantage of using his own daughters to rationalize his position while never admitting they are not typical teenagers. Queried on the Today Show, the slimmed-down yet grotesquely overrated Al Roker called the recent HHS decision "A little disturbing.  I've got a 14-year-old daughter and I'm not comfortable with the idea that you just go and buy this.  It goes to obviously other issues as well, but I think it kind of almost in a way removes the parent from part of the process."

If Al's 14-year-old daughter needs the morning-after pill, he already was removed from the process- or his advice and counsel weren't sufficient.  Further, with his wealth, a baby born to a 14-year-old daughter would not prove to be the burden it would to a young, unwed, possibly poor, woman without familial support.  Nannies, private day care, and the other accoutrements of wealth don't come cheap.  Al (he wouldn't mind me calling him that; everyone on the set just oozes a jovial informality) probably isn't removed from his daughter's life, but he is removed from the reality of American life.

And now, when the humane decision cannot cost him votes, President Obama- through one of his cabinet secretaries- finally has come through for females, irrespective of age.

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