The glaring mistake on the part of the administration is one of not owning the decision and clearly communicating a rationale. I remember this problem so well from the early part of their term, about everything from not closing Gitmo to not putting the birther thing to rest by producing a birth certificate. I think there are equal parts arrogance and good faith there, as in "look, we shouldn't have to walk everyone through this - they elected me to do the right thing, and I'm doing my best, based on deeply help principles, and it's hard enough dealing with the onslaught of decisions, let alone having to go out there and explain every move I make." Really bad approach, and they have obviously absorbed some feedback about it, and they have done better. But they aren't doing better on this one, so everyone is left once again with a big wtf.
After a good 24 hours of struggling to understand what the heck is up with this action, this what I think is going on.
Rather, I think the administration is thinking that it's not as simple a question of whether Plan B is as safe as Tylenol. Tylenol is used for headaches, Plan B is used for pregnancy prevention. Pregnancy risks only exist for people who are sexually active. Girls 16 and under who are sexually active need support, information, counseling - at the very least, they need attention. If the crisis of a birth control lapse facilitates the girl reaching out to an adult in some way, that's an opportunity.
Is this good thinking, practical, best practice, a well-conceived approach? I don't know. I'd have to think about it more, and talk to several people I know who have done a lot of work/thinking about teen pregnancy. (Carol, Angie, I want to know your take!).
I'm just saying that how Plan B is labeled re: the age of girls purchasing it was an issue for this administration, and they had misgivings about lowering the age to the extent they stepped in in a very assertive way.
And yes Obama, this is one you need to walk us through your thinking on.
I predict he will eventually do that, and agree or not, it will be easier to acknowledge this move was based on values principles rather than politics.