• Tue, Nov 27 2012

Pediatricians Say Emergency Contraception Should Be Prescribed In Advance; Why I Agree

Yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated its opinion that the United States’ pediatricians should explain emergency contraception to all of their adolescent patients, as well as make available advance prescriptions for females under 17 years old.

Currently, girls under 17 are not able to purchase the morning-after pill, which undoubtedly has led to innumerable pregnancies for teenagers who otherwise would never have conceived. This not only causes immense difficulties for the mother, whose body and emotional state may not be ready for a child, but it also leads to the spending of millions of dollars of tax money. So wouldn’t it make sense to help those girls obtain the necessary preventative measures?

According to Reuters, the AAP is calling upon doctors to make emergency contraception forms such as Plan B and Plan B One-Step available to their patients, an announcement that many women’s health groups are praising. Janet Crepps, for example, is senior legal counsel for the Center of Reproductive Rights, says, “We are very pleased to see this recommendation because it represents progress towards our ultimate goal which is that women of all ages should have unrestricted access to emergency contraception.”

Many people are upset–because of course they are!–that young women may be able to get ahold of the morning-after pill more easily than they’d like, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who called the decision “tragic.” Michael O’Dea, founder and executive director of the non-profit Christus Medicus Foundation, said, ”Since when should the physicians take over the responsibility of what parents should be doing?” Well, considering how much teenagers just love talking to their parents about sex,  I kind of doubt that everybody will be able to simply rely on their parents for help if they desperately needed it.

Many girls and women require the morning-after pill after rape in order to prevent a pregnancy from an already-terrifying event. If a young girl’s rape falls into the all-too-common category of “Not Reported,” how will she find emergency contraception to prevent an unwanted pregnancy? Or, in the case of incest, how could she possibly get her parents to simply get it for her without serious consequences?

It may worry some people that this will make it more common for people to use emergency contraception as an everyday type of birth control. And of course, I don’t believe that the morning-after pill should be used as such. That would be ridiculous and irresponsible. But if pediatricians explain exactly when, why and how emergency contraception should be used, as well as making sure they are able to acquire proper birth control such as pills, condoms, the patch, Nuva-Ring and so on, then the risk of young girls using the morning-after pill improperly will decrease immensely.

As of now, it’s extremely difficult to get the morning-after pill after dark, even for adults. This is why I always keep one or two packs–just in case a housemate or friend needs one the same day I do–because Planned Parenthood isn’t always open. And if you’re a teenager who doesnt have any 18+ friends willing to get her some Plan B, suddenly you’re out of options and the waiting game begins. Allowing females to have a prior prescription will prevent a middle man requisite, as well as the stress and/or pregnancy that could’ve been avoided.

We know millions of teenagers will have sex. We know this. We can’t afford to be naive enough to believe that blissful ignorance channeled by way of abstinence-only education will be totally effective.

I think this is an excellent step in pediatrics and women’s health. Birth control and even emergency contraception should be as easy to get your hands on as condoms–after all, it’s a human right to be able to control your own reproductive system.

Photo: USAToday30

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  • Ella

    If you a girl has enough knowledge to understand that the morning after pill would prevent pregnancy then they understand that birth control would do just that. Plan B is just that, a back up plan. People should not be relying on this after they already have sex and didn’t think to be safe beforehand.
    Lets be honest, Plan B’s biggest consumers aren’t rape/incest victims. They are irresponsible people.

    • Tania

      And irresponsible people should not be having babies. It’s not going to make them more responsible through magic or whatever it is people seem to think is going to happen.

    • JennyWren

      Your assumption is that people will rely on it. I don’t think this is the case. This is exactly the same argument people make about abortion. The truth is that only an absolutely tiny percentage of people rely on Plan B or on abortion as their primary form of contraception, simply because it is far too much hassle and expense to do so. Taking the morning after pill usually results in nausea for at least a few hours after taking it and it can be difficult to get a hold of. No-one opts for an unreliably available option that can make them sick if they can help it.
      I also find this “irresponsibility” argument confounding. So taking one form of birth control is responsible but another is not? Accidents do happen. Condoms split, or don’t get used properly, and young people sometimes have sex when they weren’t planning to. At that point it becomes a question of damage control, and plan B is absolutely an attempt to take responsibility. This is the central point of the article: you can talk all you want about how people should behave, but you should primarily respond to the reality of how they do behave.