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Morning-After Pill Available to Teens

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Is this okay?

Plan B

A Federal judge has ruled the Food and Drug Administration let politics cloud its judgment when it denied teenage girls over-the-counter access to the Plan B morning-after pill. He then  ordered the FDA to let 17-year-olds obtain the medication.

In a thorough denunciation of the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman blasted the FDA's handling of the issue, saying it had "repeatedly and unreasonably" delayed issuing a decision on the medication.

Plan B is a contraceptive that reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within three days after sex. The drug works by preventing ovulation or by interfering with implantation of a fertilized egg -- opponents argue that is the equivalent of abortion.

In 2006, the FDA allowed Plan B to be sold without a prescription to adults, but only by pharmacies that checked photo ID before selling the pills. Girls 17 and younger were required to obtain a prescription.

The morning-after pill has been a source of tension for social conservatives who held great sway in the Bush administration and who believe the pill is tantamount to abortion.

Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says, "I applaud the decision to sell Plan B over the counter to women under 18, as has long been recommended by the Association for Reproductive Health panel. But no matter what a person's age is, they should be counseled by a medical professional such as a pharmacist, nurse, or doctor about the risks, benefits, and side effects before taking Plan B. Choosing to take a drug is serious, and should never be taken lightly."

Do you think 17-year-olds should be able to buy Plan B?

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35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Dara March 25, 2009, 9:09 AM

i think this is great for 17 and up. i’d rather see them using this than ending up with a terminated pregnancy. i just wonder about the liability if a girl had some dangerous side affects with it..

anonymous March 25, 2009, 9:15 AM

I think everyone should require a prescription for Plan B. I’m afraid use of this pill will be abused and women will use it as their form of birth control, instead of getting a prescription for a daily preventative pill, or an IUD. If the woman hasn’t considered a regular birth control method besides barrier, than having to make a trip to the doctor to get a prescription for Plan B would be the perfect opening to a discussion about what options that particular woman has and what would work best for her from that point forward

Anonymous March 25, 2009, 9:56 AM

As someone who has taken this before (and I’m well over 18), let me tell you, it’s NOT FUN. It makes you feel very sick because it’s the equiv. of taking multiple birth control pills in one day. I highly doubt any woman (whether a teen or not) would use this on a regular basis for “birth control” because of the side effects.

anonymous March 25, 2009, 10:29 AM

I’m not saying they’d use it regularly (like every time they have sex), but would primarily use condoms and use it for any “oops” times, instead of talking to their doctor about a more reliable method, like an IUD or a daily pill.

Depending on their age, some women would rather take the morning after pill if the condom breaks than risk their parents finding out they’re on BC pills, or not wanting to talk to their doctor for fear of judgment.

I’m all for women having access to this pill, especially for women who are not regularly having sex so don’t require regular pills, but find themselves in a situation where the protection wasn’t as reliable as they thought it was, and want to do something to prevent pregnancy. Or even for a teen who had their first time but didn’t plan for it. But again, it would be a great opportunity to talk to their ob/gyn and say “hey I had sex, I need the morning after pill. what can I do for future protection so I don’t have to call you the day after if it happens again?”

Anonymous March 25, 2009, 11:04 AM

This is going to save a lot of people and I’m so glad the government hasn’t ruined it… yet. I’m 24 so this was around when I was in high school and I never knew anyone who saw it as anything but a last resort.

In college my friend was a victim of date rape and the morning after pill gave her a sense of some control and security. It took her almost two weeks to report the crime but luckily she was able to get Plan B the next day with out a prescription since she was 18. I highly doubt she would have gotten it if she needed a prescription and I’m so thankful that she was able to prevent a possible pregnancy.

Anonymouse March 25, 2009, 11:13 AM

This is a horrible idea. Beyond the moral questions (and some false advertising over how the pill actually works), “Plan B” pills have some massive side effects and have caused death from bleeding in a few cases. Drugs with this type of potentially lethal side effects should not be available without strict physician supervision.

Natalie March 25, 2009, 11:24 AM

@anonymous: Doctors will not prescribe and IUD to a teen. They are marketed to women who have already had a child. It is not an easy procedure to implant OR remove and they do have a risk of serious side affects including sterility. I agree that sexually active teens need to be pro active about birth control, but come on, we have all been there, some times teenage sex is not planned. I would much rather a 17 year have access to Plan B than end up at the clinic getting an abortion 12 weeks later.

Anonymous March 25, 2009, 11:29 AM

pill = good. 17 & under should have a prescription. Parents should know as they are minors.

Mommy March 25, 2009, 11:42 AM

I think it’s a great option for teenage girls and it should be readily available to them. Just as long as they’re aware that it isn’t 100% affective and they really need to consult with a doctor before and after taking it. My 3rd child was a “Plan B” baby. If I hadn’t followed up with a doctor I might not have realized I was pregnant for several more weeks. That could have been several more weeks of reckless behaviors that might have harmed the fetus. Or, I had decided not to have the baby, several more weeks added to a the timeframe of a safe and legal abortion. Give Plan B a shot, but be prepared for Plan C if it doesn’t work!!!

Luke March 25, 2009, 11:48 AM

Personally, I think 16 and up should not require a script. I would prefer my daughter get plan B then get an abortion.

June March 25, 2009, 11:59 AM

Has to be a good thing, kids dont want to be tied down with having babies, you can’t stop them having sex (Ideally it should be proctected but kids dont think it will happen to them!).
They have to have as may options open to them as possible as long as the right questions are asked before giving them and a record is kept just to ensure they are not being used as a form of contraception on a regular basis

Amber March 25, 2009, 12:45 PM

I think it’s fantastic! Morals aren’t for the public at large to decide. Morals are a personal and family issue. A girl shouldn’t be saddled with a child before she can PROPERLY love and care for it. At eighteen few are really ready mentally to take care of a child’s mental and physical well being.

birdsfly March 25, 2009, 12:59 PM

Look at it this way: at 17 i had graduated high school and was on my own at college. I was not sexually active so I was not on the pill. If I had been attacked at a party or walking to class at night (scared the crud out of me let me tell you) I would have appreciated the ability to deal with it without involving my parents since I was essentially doing that with every other aspect of my life. Younger then that involve the parents, but at 17 a lot of girls are already out in the world on their own.

Lady March 25, 2009, 1:09 PM

Oh yeah, sure, give them even less responsibility for their actions. Great! If she’s catting around, has a baby, let someone else who wants it have it, shoe doesn’t have to be ‘saddled’ with…. consequences.. People can be so selfish.

In five years, let’s lower it to 16, maybe by 2030 it will be available to 12 years old because times are a changing.


Kirstie March 25, 2009, 1:35 PM

If a girl is legally old enough to be consenting to sex (and that is a LOT younger then 18 in most states!), she should be legally able to obtain any form of contraceptive she wants to under her own power. If she’s old enough to consent to sex, she’s old enough to be proactive and be responsible for her decisions.

Not all girls can GO to their parents about something like this.

Beth March 25, 2009, 3:13 PM

I am truly shocked at how casually this is approached. There is obviously a lot of misinformation out there about this drug, as there seems to be very little understanding that it does not PREVENT a pregnancy, it ENDS a pregnancy.

I absolutely understand that sex is a difficult issue for parents and kids to handle, but if a girl is not mature enough to talk to a doctor or a parent about a decision like this, she isn’t mature enough to have sex. It breaks my heart that girls are being taught that they don’t need to respect their bodies and allow boys, society, etc. to pressure them into so much.

birdsfly March 25, 2009, 4:42 PM

It does nothing if you are already pregnant, ie the egg has implanted. It prevents a fertilized egg from implanting.

Kirstie March 25, 2009, 8:21 PM

Beth - I don’t know where you got your information, but you’re 100% wrong. Plan B is an extremely high concentration of hormonal birth control, designed to prevent implantation in the same way any other birth control does. If the egg has not implanted yet, you are not pregnant yet - therefore, you are NOT ending a pregnancy but preventing it.

I’m assuming you’ve confused Plan B with RU-486 (also known by it’s brand name, Mifeprex), which IS the abortion pill and DOES cause an existing pregnancy to abort within the first two months of pregnancy. Maybe check your facts?

a March 26, 2009, 9:11 AM

Beth, you said “but if a girl is not mature enough to talk to a doctor or a parent about a decision like this, she isn’t mature enough to have sex.” unfortunately girls who aren’t mature are going to have sex, do we really want them to raise babies too?

anonymous March 26, 2009, 9:59 AM

The argument shouldn’t be if it is made available to the teens, I definitely agree that all women should have access to it. I just don’t think it should be given out to anyone without a prescription, no matter their age. Not everyone is responsible enough to follow up with their doctor if not required to, no matter what the age. If the women doesn’t want to talk to a doctor before getting the pill what do you think is going to make her talk to a doctor after, especially if the situation is supposedly taken care of
And no, Natalie, we haven’t all been there. Not everyone was sexually active as a teenager, and there are quite a few people out there who did some preparation before they had sex.

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