Traditionally, the networks have loved a slow, strict, statist bent at the Food and Drug Administration. In the 1990s, they warned that the FDA might be too lax on the threat of milk and hailed FDA head David Kessler for seizing crates of dangerous orange juice. But when it comes to sex and abortion, all the rules change. Suddenly, the networks go libertarian.
NBC's Tom Brokaw once called Newt Gingrich's criticism of the FDA "very ominous." (Scroll up from the orange juice Newsbite, and you'll see.) But when Hillary Clinton's the corporation-loving deregulator, then NBC has a different view. The topic was "Plan B," the abortifacient pill. Social conservatives hope to at least keep the drug from being easily available to minors without parental permission. On Tuesday's Today, substitute news anchor David Gregory implied delay was anti-woman: "After years of delay, women may soon be able to get the morning-after pill without a prescription. The FDA indicates it may be open to the idea, but with restrictions."
NBC reporter Tom Costello relayed that "after more than two years of failing (failing!) to make any decision on whether to allow the morning-after pill without a prescription," the FDA sent the makers of Plan B a letter saying it might allow counter sales if women can prove they are 18 or older. The political reason for the shift? Bush's new nominee for FDA director is facing confirmation, and "Democratic Senators Clinton and Murray vow to block his appointment until the FDA makes a decision." What, no first names for the women? There's certainly no acknowledgement that they're liberal and no sense at all that they're carrying water for feminist groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America and the ACLU. (It's even been charged that Planned Parenthood made an insider price deal with Barr Labs, the makers of Plan B.)
Oh, but the opposing side gets a label, of course: "Already, the FDA's own scientists have said the pill is safe, but some conservative Christian organizations say the pill is tantamount to abortion, and don't believe anyone under 18 should have easy access to a high-dose birth control bill."
While Sen. Patty Murray did get a soundbite on Today, the conservatives did not. Here's some of what Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America said in their press release: “OTC access to the morning-after pill does not cut the number of pregnancies or abortions,” stated Miss Wright. “Just the opposite. In fact, Scotland made the morning-after pill non-prescription in 1999 and in 2005 the country reported its highest number of abortions since abortion was decriminalized in 1967. Countries that make the morning-after pill easy to access show no drop in pregnancies or abortions, but they do experience skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Common sense and care for women – especially minor girls – requires medical oversight of this drug. The FDA needs to stop playing games with women’s lives.”
UPDATE: See Rick Weiss in today's Washington Post underlining these deregulatory Democrats. He touts Hillary hugging the NARAL line and three other liberals -- Barbara Mikulski, Jack Reed, and Tom Harkin -- to only one personally supportive quote for the Bush nominee by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.