Doctors: Prescribe Emergency Contraception for All Girls Under 17

by Lisa Garber,  |  published on November 27, 2012

The 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 Breu9+ner, 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.

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