Pediatricians should discuss emergency contraception with their teenaged patients and even write advance prescriptions, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended earlier this week. The morning-after pill should be taken 120 hours after unprotected sex, but is more effective the sooner it is taken. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B is almost 90 percent more effective than saying “No babies no babies no babies!” three times fast. Advance prescriptions, the AAP, explained, would help prevent teen pregnancies and put MTV’s “16 & Pregnant” franchise out of business.
The AAP’s recommendation for “routine anticipatory guidance,” as Contemporary Pediatrics put it, is a way of getting around the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s refusal to approve EC, like Plan B, available over-the-counter for girls younger than 17 despite the FDA’s recommendation. The morning-after pill is available over-the-counter for anyone age 17 and up, but women younger than 17 need a prescription. That entails hustling to a doctor in the narrow timeframe … and explaining to your parents why you need to hustle.
Pediatricians should begin discussing EC in the context of pregnancy prevention starting at age 12, TIME magazine reports. Not surprisingly, critics of the AAP’s suggestion are worried teenaged girls are going to be more “promiscuous” if they have EC. Not only is data proving EC enables more teen sex totally nonexistent, according to one of the statement’s lead authors, but it excludes unintended pregnancies that result from sexual assault. A whopping 44 perent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 18, according to the Rape And Incest National Network, and girls ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general public to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
I couldn’t agree more with this recommendation — in fact, I always keep a package of Plan B in my medicine cabinet just in case I ever need it. Given the anti-abortion movement’s lies and obfuscations about women’s reproductive health, it’s also vitally important to educate teens about EC and how it is not the same thing as the RU-486 “abortion pill.” It’s sad that the state of sexual education is so dismal in America — I’m lookin’ at you, abstinence-only sex ed — that teen girls may need to rely on their pediatricians to learn about sexual health.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.