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One Mom’s Thoughts on FDA Making ‘Morning-After’ Pill Accessible to Teens

 

The FDA has approved the availability of  Plan B One-Step emergency contraception, also referred to as the “morning-after” pill, for girls 15 years and older to access the pill without prescription.

The pill will be sold in stores with pharmacies, and will be available outside of pharmacy hours, to anyone who can prove age verification.

Intended to be taken within 24 hours (but may be taken up to 72 hours after) as emergency contraception, the morning-after pill works by preventing an egg from being released from the ovary, or preventing fertilization of the egg by sperm. If there has been fertilization, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus.

Issues for Plan B One-Step Availability for Girls

As the mother of three daughters ranging in ages from five to 24, I wasn’t really pleased to hear that the FDA has approved the morning-after pill for teens.  Before I get a bunch of hate comments on this post, let me say that I’m not talking about adult women who can make decisions for themselves. Nor am I delusional enough to think that 15-year-old girls aren’t having sex. However, I do have some concerns about 15-year-old kids having access to this without prescription or parental consent.

Contraception Concerns for Kids

1. Teens make bad decisions … because they’re “programmed” that way.

You may think that your teen is making bad decisions just to make you crazy, but did you know that the teen brain is actually programmed that way during the teen years?  One study shows that adolescent brains are most receptive during this time to the risk-reward stage, which is what makes them do stupid things under peer pressure. If they perceive the reward as great, even if  they know they’re not supposed to do it, they’re probably going to choose it. The study states:

A major reason why teenagers often respond to those influences with irrational decisions is the presence of a brain chemical known as dopamine. The brain releases dopamine when something makes us feel good, whether it’s receiving a teacher’s compliment or finding a $20 bill. Dopamine levels in general peak during adolescence. In teenagers, the strength of this “feel good” response helps explain why they often give in to impulsive desires.

Putting drugs (of any kind) into the hands of kids who are incapable of making good decisions at that age just seems … like a bad decision.

2. ‘Morning-After’ pill teaches kids to be less responsible.

I’m concerned that kids will give less thought to having sex and the complications that may arise from it. Will kids use it as an excuse to be less careful thinking, “Who cares? I can always get the morning-after pill … and my parents won’t even know!”

3. Plan B One-Step doesn’t protect against STDs.

Like any oral birth control, the morning-after pill doesn’t prevent sexually transmitted disease. Here are some eye-opening facts from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • An estimated 8,300 young people aged 13–24 years in the 40 states reporting to CDC had HIV infection in 2009.
  • Nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are among young people aged 15–24 years.
  • One in two sexually active young people will get an STD by the age of 25.

4. It gives parents another “out” to talking to their kids about sex.

Parents can be lazy in talking to our kids about sex. For some reason, we can cover everything else from college to bullying, but refuse to be open about something as natural as sex. If we know our kids have easy access to the Plan B One-Step pill, will it make us even less likely to talk to our kids about sex because they can just take care of it alone without us knowing?

What are your thoughts about the new FDA approval on the morning-after pill for ages as young as 15?  Good idea, or do you have concerns? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Image: Ambro

Along with being a contributor to PrimeParentsClub.com, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate. Founder and executive director of Monkey Do Project and co-author of 50 Shades of Frayed: What Happens When 'I Do' Becomes 'Not Tonight': A Humorous Mompilation.

3 Comments

  1. rockle

    May 2, 2013 at 10:04 am

    all of your (collective you, not just the author’s) concerns are valid ones … but if i may: i am a teaching student. i recently did a field observation in an urban middle school. these kids are younger than 15, but i know (from conversations i overheard and interviews that i had to conduct) that many of them are ALREADY having sex. and that particular district does not include sex ed OF ANY KIND in its health curriculum until 10th grade. last year, in that district, more than 50 girls in 10th grade and YOUNGER got pregnant. many of those girls flunked out or dropped out of school because they couldn’t keep up with the demands of raising a baby, having a job to feed the baby, and attending classes.

    i am absolutely pro-Plan-B for adults. other people’s reproductive choices are none of my damn business. i am not 100% convinced that making Plan B accessible to 15-year-olds will encourage them to make responsible life choices (see author’s notes on STD’s, etc.). but i am also not 100% convinced that leaving 15-year-olds to deal with the lifelong consequences of becoming pregnant at that age is socially responsible, either.

    look: i hope that my kid comes to me when she has questions about sex. i don’t want her to learn those things on the streets. but i also feel like i have a good relationship with my child, and open lines of communication, and the fact is that many parents DON’T. they just DON’T. when i had to conduct my surveys for field observation, i found that at least 30% of the students interviewed come from single-parent families, with parents who work multiple jobs. more than 50% of the students reported seeing their parents for fewer than 2 hours a day. many of them are “latchkey” kids who are responsible for making their own dinners and would not get breakfast or lunch if not for the school cafeteria.

    unfortunately, these kids are raising THEMSELVES, and they often feel that they have no one but themselves to help them make decisions. i wish there was some other kind of adult “filter” between kids and Plan B, but these children don’t feel like they can talk to their parents or teachers about this stuff. who else could they talk to? what else could they do?

  2. christin

    May 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I agree with you and Charity. Just another step in the Government removing our parental rights and input in our children’s lives and upbringing. More and more they seem to be saying that it is the governments job to raise our children and make decisions for them that they have deemed us incapable of making. I would prefer to parent my own children!

  3. Charity

    May 1, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I agree with all your points. And take and even more conservative views on it’s use.