Unanimous: “Morning After Pill” Prescriptions for Teens In Advance

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called on pediatricians in the US to provide advice to all adolescent patients about emergency contraception, and to prescribe it to girls under 17 in advance. US policy bans sales of the pills to girls under 17, but advance prescriptions would cut the physician out of the equation when younger teens want emergency contraception immediately. Susan Wood, former women’s health official at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), called the decision “significant”, and said: “it’s not often you see physician organizations saying that their patients are better off without the physician involvement.”

The announcement sparked concern with some religious groups. Michael O’Dea, of nonprofit Christus Medicus Foundation, called it “a violation of parents’ rights to be the primary educator of their children.” The US Conference of Catholic Bishops called the declaration “tragic”. Theresa Notare, of the Conference’s Natural Family Planning Program, said: “It is a very sad day when physicians think that “good medicine” is to attack an adolescent girl’s healthy fertility with potent drugs just to prevent a possible pregnancy”. She continued: “This recommendation becomes tragic when we consider that the recommendation is built upon overriding a parent’s rights over their own children,” she said.

Emergency contraception for teenagers has been highly controversial for nearly a decade. Last December, the FDA approved over-the-counter sales with no age limits, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled this decision, ordering that the pills be available only by prescription for girls under 17. The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit to overturn Sebelius’ decision. The AAP said in its policy statement that pediatricians should inform their patients about all legal treatments, even those “to which they object”.

This article is used courtesy of BioEdge, a weekly newsletter about cutting-edge bioethical issues. Based in the Southern Hemisphere but speaking to the world, BioEdge is completely independent. It is designed and maintained by volunteers and financed by supporters and contributors. It is published by New Media Foundation.

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Jared Yee writes regularly for BioEdge.

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  • Momof11

    I wonder why I have a hard time trusting doctors…

  • http://JamesTPereira.com/ James T Pereira

    This is indeed strange.
    Many years ago, a pharma company tried to convince medical doctors to advocate giving aspirin to everyone, including those with no heart disease, as a way of preventing the onset of the disease. This is called primary prevention – prevention of the 1st incident of a disease.
    Looks like the pediatricians are treating pregnancy as a disease that needs primary prevention.
    What happened to the aspirin story? There was insufficient data to support such medical intervention, as although theoretically it sounded good, there was no idea of what kind of side effects and other issues may crop up. The idea was shelved.
    I fear without sufficient data, these doctors are opening Pandora’s box.

  • CFS

    I can see why this pill would be a favorite with teens, there’s no need to think ahead, to plan, to be responsible. However, doesn’t the pill prevent implantation in the even of fertilization? In which case it should be called the ‘early abort’ pill.

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