Plan B as a political issue

Let’s make the argument this fall about Plan B and the South Dakota abortion ban. Those are issues where the public is with us, as opposed to late-term abortion and parental notification. The Republicans are helping by pandering to the Anti-Sex League.

The most important art in politics is getting the voters to focus on the questions they agree with you about rather than the ones they disagree with you about. Now that the anti-sex fanatics in the Republican base are demanding their pound of flesh in the form of actual policies, the Democrats have a chance to make their opponents pay a high political price.

If the political arguments about reproductive freedom this year are about Plan B and the South Dakota rapist’s-right-to-fatherhood law rather than about late-term abortion and parental notification, this could shape up as a very good year indeed.

(By the same token, if the gay-rights issue the voters are thinking about when they step into the polling booth is military service rather than marriage, it’s the Democrats who are holding the high ground.)

The challenge, then, is to keep the “good” issues in the news, and to force Republicans to act on those issues. How about a rider providing that Plan B is approved on the terms recommended by the FDA advisory committee unless the FDA issues a final ruling disapproving it within 30 days? As always, that would be easier in the Senate than in the House.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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