THE BLOG
12/08/2011 04:48 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2012

Et Tu, Brute?

Apparently the director of the HHS thinks it's safer for an 11-year-old to get pregnant than to take two pills that physicians think are safe?

Kathleen Sebelius, director of the HHS, has no formal scientific or medical training, but overruled a thoughtful decision by the FDA that would have helped prevent unintended pregnancies in adolescents. I just don't get it, and this is my specialty.

After medical school, I spent 11 years training to become a specialist in reproductive medicine. So excuse me if my writing is angry, but it's frustrating to see a politician with no medical or scientific experience intervening to overrule doctors on a scientific matter. It pains me that a woman who has previously been an advocate of reproductive autonomy and choice struck down a decision by my colleagues at the FDA that would have given more reproductive freedom to all women of reproductive age without a prescription. Her rationale can only be described as crazy: The unknown risk of a drug that is safe for a 17 year old to take, might not be okay for an 11 or 12 year old... but an undesired pregnancy is?! What?

Sebellius is a career politician with no medical training, yet she felt competent to overrule physicians and scientists with decades of experience in treating reproductive aged women. We have known for nearly a decade that improving access to Plan B increases utilization but does not adversely effect adolescent behaviors or health. I cannot think of a situation in which I would not safely be able to prescribe Plan B to a young adolescent.

Now I imagine a young girl who was raped or had undesired, unprotected sex. Why would you make some young girl in that situation have to negotiate getting an appointment with a doctor before she can prevent an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy? Especially when the doctor would have little or no medical rationale for withholding the medicine?

The Secretary's decision was wrong. She over reached her capability. Why? I'm still not sure. If you agree, please call the HHS and voice your opposition: 202-401-5781 or 202-205-5445.

I expected this from the Bush administration, not from this administration.