Short takes on issues
Providing options • Increasing the "morning after" pill's availability to women of all ages to prevent pregnancy within 24 hours after intercourse could reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. But would easier access increase sexual activity among young girls and circumvent parental involvement? The Obama administration would limit the now over-the-counter "Plan B" drug to women over 17, but a U.S. District Court judge ruled earlier this month that it should be available without prescription to all women of any age. The Food and Drug Administration lowered the age limit to 15, but didn't address how a 15-year-old would prove her age. The feds should let the court ruling stand. Teens have sex; that's a fact. To prevent the heartache of pregnancy or abortion, Plan B should be readily available so it can be used within the necessary time frame. At $50 a pill, it's not likely to become a post-coital routine.
Governing in the open • A public document that is only available to the public for the price of a good used car is essentially not public at all. That was the argument made by the Utah Democratic Party in its lawsuit over access to documents created during the Legislature's redistricting process, and 3rd District Judge L.A. Dever rightly agreed. Dever rejected the Legislature's argument that the court has no jurisdiction to review the records request and ordered the state to pay the Democrats' attorneys fees about $15,000. Democrats paid $5,000 in January 2012 for one batch of redistricting records but were told the total cost for assembling all the documents would be $14,250. The Democrats balked, as they should have, and a court battle ensued. The ruling should reinforce the basic rule of democracy, that the public has a right to know what their elected officials are doing in their name and with their money.
Cycling safely • The Salt Lake City Police Department reports that 2012 was a great year for safe cycling. Or maybe law enforcement officers were emphasizing education rather than punishment. In either case, last year saw the lowest number of bike-related citations in five years, just 48 moving violations, compared to 71 violations in 2011 and a whopping 104 in 2010, the peak year for most categories of bike citations in the past five years. Citations are usually given for breaking traffic laws, but in many instances last year, officers handed out more brochures explaining the law than tickets. Encouraging safe behavior is of growing importance as the number of cyclists increases. Salt Lake City saw 30 percent growth in the number of bikes on the road in the past two years. That's good for air quality and for the health of cyclists as long as they ride safely.