Archive for November 27th, 2012

Emergency Contraception Prescribed Preventively to Teens

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Okay I have to admit, I’m a little bit torn with this story.  While I understand the reasoning behind it, I’m not sure that this is the best idea for young girls.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has just recommended that pediatricians not only talk to their adolescent patients about emergency contraceptives like Plan B, but that they also offer them prescriptions to have on hand just in case they need it.  Lylah M. Alphonse of Parenting talks about this controversial issue in “Should Pediatricians Give Kids Access to the Morning After Pill in Advance?”

The United States has a much higher rate of teen pregnancy than other industrialized countries, even though the teen pregnancy numbers have been going down for nearly two decades.  With the rates still so high, the AAP believes that putting something like the morning-after pill in the hands of the teens who need it will help lessen that rate even more.  Studies have found that the chances are much better for adolescents to use emergency contraception if they already had a prescription before the time they need it.  I wonder if girls under the age of 17 can really comprehend what they are getting into without significant discussion about Plan B and sex in general.

While I believe that it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their children have education about sex and contraception, I do realize that this doesn’t always happen.  But my initial concern about teens having easy access to Plan B is that it will either make their decision to have sex at a young age easier or make them less careful when they do.  Seven studies showed, however, that having such a prescription does not increase the chances that a teen will have sex or lessen the chance that they will use protection against pregnancy.  Plan B works best if it is used within a day of unprotected sex, although it can be taken up to 120 hours later.  So it makes sense to have such a prescription available to those who may need it.

Offering Plan B prescriptions for girls under the age of 17 without telling their parents doesn’t sit right with me.  I get it though.  In an ideal world, girls would talk to their parents and ask for help if they had unprotected sex.  Or better yet they would use protection because of their excellent sex education or even abstain altogether.  It’s not an ideal world and girls make mistakes.  Some even get taken advantage of against their will.  These girls should have access to emergency help if they need it.  I don’t know if a secret prescription for Plan B is the best bet, but it is something to help lower the teen pregnancy rate.  There’s another question that arises with pediatricians prescribing Plan B.  Will health insurance companies pay the cost of this prescription?  And if not, it will most likely have to be the girls’ parents covering the cost.