I'd Let My Teen Get the "Morning After" PillJoanne Bamberger
The Plan B contraceptive pill should be made available to teen girls under 17.
That’s the new advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics and I agree wholeheartedly. As far as I’m concerned, Plan B, otherwise known as “the morning after” pill, is one of the best pregnancy prevention inventions for women ever. We live in a society where abortion and reproductive rights are being whittled away daily, with decreasing options for women, and, yes, girls, to have control over their pregnancy decisions.
The availability and safety of Plan B has changed all that.
When the Federal Drug Administration made the same recommendation last year — during President Obama’s re-election campaign — his administration refused to go along with that advisory, something that virtually never happens. Why? Even though the FDA was clear that the contraceptive is safe enough for girls under 17, allowing that to happen during the same election season, as fights over whether employers should have to provide grown women with birth control under their insurance policies, was a potential political time bomb.
Now, the AAP is saying the same thing the FDA did last year — that it’s medically a good thing to make Plan B contraception available to all women of childbearing age, including teen girls under 17, because:
Many teens continue to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, and as many as 10 percent are victims of sexual assault. Other indications for use include contraceptive failures (defective or slipped condoms, or missed or late doses of other contraceptives).
According to the AAP, pediatricians can play an important role in counseling patients and providing prescriptions for teens in need of emergency contraception for preventing pregnancy.
I don’t even want to think about the possibility of my soon-to-be teen becoming sexually active at this point in her life. I’m happy to know that, for her, that’s something far down the road, at least that’s what I’m assuming since just the thought of slow-dancing with a boy at a bar mitzvah party is something she can’t wrap her head around. And when I tell her there are “things” we need to have more conversations about, she rolls her eyes but reluctantly gives in. Sadly, and more seriously, there are many girls who will become pregnant in their early teen years; those pregnancies can be prevented if they can have access to Plan B.
I know there are many parents who think letting their teen daughters talk with their pediatricians about any contraception isn’t in the realm of their realities. But think about this — aside from the emotional issues associated with wrapping your parental head around how you would manage a teen pregnancy in your family, consider this in a more financially mercenary light. Do you know how much government spending could be cut if teen pregnancies were reduced?
According to a report from the Guttmacher Institute,
The estimates of the cost to taxpayers of providing medical services to women who experience unintended pregnancies and to the infants who are born as a result of such pregnancies range between $9.6 and $12.6 billion per year, and average $11.3 billion. The estimates of the public savings that would result if these unintended pregnancies were prevented range from $4.7 billion to $6.2 billion per year, and average $5.6 billion.
So pediatricians say Plan B is safe and effective. And other analysts point to a major reduction in teen pregnancies that would contribute a huge chunk of change to the budget in our current “fiscal cliff” moment. So keeping it from our daughters is bad in what way?
There’s more than enough politics in our lady health issues these days. This mom says it’s time to take the availability of Plan B for teen girls off the table, and listen to the advice of the AAP and the FDA. If Michelle Obama’s husband wasn’t the President of the United States, I wonder what she would say on all this?
Read more from me at my place PunditMom and in my Amazon best-selling book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.
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