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Doctors: Prescribe Emergency Contraception for All Girls Under 17

Lisa Garber
November 27th, 2012
Updated 02/13/2014 at 8:05 pm
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contraceptionpills 255x159 Doctors: Prescribe Emergency Contraception for All Girls Under 17The American Academy of Pediatrics has a surprising bit of advice in its new policy statement: doctors should prescribe underage teens emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B.

The heads of abstinence-advocates, natural healers, and skeptics at large are spinning.

Teen pregnancies in the US, while having dropped 44% between 1991 and 2010, remain five times that of France, 2 ½ times that of Canada, and higher than China’s and Russia’s. An unfortunate share of it is attributed to sexual assault, which are highest among teens and young adults according to the Justice Department’s Office on Violence against Women.

“We really can do better,” says Dr. Cora Breuner, a member of the AAP’s Committee on Adolescence. “By providing more education and improving access to contraception and more education about family planning, we can do better.”

About 80% of teen pregnancies in America are unplanned, and Breuner adds that babies of such pregnancies tend to experience behavioral and academic problems compared to babies born in planned pregnancies from older parents. Because emergency contraception pills work most effectively if taken within the first 24 hours, teens may feel more comfortable not talking to parents or gynecologists and instead using the preemptively prescribed pills for emergency contraception.

Dangers Associated with Emergency Contraceptives

The logic may be sound—better safe than sorry—but there are other implications to consider, though the gravity of each one compared to an unplanned pregnancy is entirely up to the individual.

Women taking birth control drugs with imitation progesterone (to include Yaz, Bayer’s Yasmin, Beyaz, Safyraland Angeliq) are, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, 150 percent more likely to develop blood clots. Other dangers to consider when taking birth control or emergency contraceptive pills include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Reduced or increased acne
  • Nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting
  • Emotional sensitivity and mood swings
  • Irregular bleeding, spotting
  • Decreased libido
  • Benign liver tumors
  • Yeast overgrowth and infection
  • Vitamins B2, B6, and B12 deficiency

Because emergency contraception administered to underage teens would not be prescribed for cases like acne and hormonal imbalances (as with conventional birth control pills), the issue of using birth control to clear symptoms of deeper, underlying conditions such as poor liver or adrenal function is not at issue. The issue here is using emergency birth control for teens who, for poor planning, emotional unease, or sexual assault, are unable or unwilling to discuss courses of action with gynecologists or parents.

Arguably, instead of prescribing emergency contraception to teens, it might be worthwhile (and healthier) for parents and pediatricians to have regular, comfortable talks about sexual health and non-hormonal methods of birth control (like condoms).

Sadly, not all adults have the mindfulness or time befitting a good parent and not all children, environments, or circumstances prevent accidents, assault, or plain bad planning. Condoms do fail and sexual assault is a horrid reality, and emergency contraceptives then would be a boon for any scared, underage teen to have at hand.

And of course, is it morally correct to stop a pregnancy in its path? Just recently, some individuals said that newborn babies ‘aren’t people’ and it is therefore acceptable to kill them. They are calling for after-birth abortions. The writers say that newborn babies simply do not have a “moral right to life”. Is society slowly trying to better control population numbers?

Are emergency contraceptive pills OK? What do you think?

Additional Sources:

LA Times


From around the web:

  • Mike

    Am I missing something here? What happened to traditional education and moral values? This is getting way out of control….

  • Stephen – The health

    Every one is missing the trough about contraceptive. There is on health benefit derived from taking contraceptives. They do cause health problems like cancer. Every time you turn the TV on there is a law suite over the physical problems contrastive have caused. And you want my Tax money to pay for that Bull shit, there is no health benefit. Find me a doctor that can give me one health benefit from a woman taking contraceptives?

  • JoanaRattes

    I come from a developing country and honestly I think this could be a good idea. Not the best idea, but considering the world as it is, to me is still better to face some adverse effects of the day after pill than to bring a child to the light without perspectives. I have known a lot of girls with doors shut because of pregnancies; some feel victimized, some do not, but the outcome is very similar for low middle-class girls. The policy should be coupled with at least ONE psycologist counselling to teach teens about responsabilty and stressing this should be not a contraception method. It is the girl that takes it mostly. The women are the wickest end of this rope. Look at us. The mass culture is turning women into "bitches". I believe the more time we give a girl to realize there are other ways to be, the more we all have to gain. Sure "magic pills" aren't the best way to deal with the issue of teen pregnancies, therefore not the final, but, we have to shed the moralism and focus into facts. Premature sex is unfortunately a reality, the disrespect for women the fashion of the day. Parents and teens normally don't discuss sexual behaviours, what now?
    As for me, I'd rather put on 20 lbs temporarily, have candida albicans and so on, than having a child in my teens. Invest in strong counselling and a few do-overs for the girls should be regarded as a fair response.

  • P.S. 85

    I cannot believe the callous self righteousness of those who point their fingers and condemn others for caring and wanting to help while they themselves are unable to deal with human sexuality in its many manifestations.

  • Morgan Azih

    God Almighty shall deliver us in this generation from the wicked hands of humanist. Sex was created by the LORD to be honoured & via it He ordered man to bring forth children increasing to subdue the earth. So all other plans can only cause pains as rightly spoken in this article.

  • Luana

    Giving a contraceptive pill to a still developing organism of a girl can have profound effects on her health and her ability to have children later on in life. It is much easier to go around the problem and simply prescribe a pill. It is the easy way out that will make more money for the drug companies along the way. Again like with everything we treat the symptom and not the actual cause. It's all due to lack of education.

  • Buffet

    Something has to be done to keep theses whores from knockin' themselves up!

    • Anonymous

      How about just teaching them to use a condom??