The FDA decided to lower the age limit for the morning-after pill from 17 to 15-years-of- age. The pill can be bought without a prescription and from pharmacy shelves. You will find it in the aisle next to women’s health products, condoms and other pharmacy items. All a girl has to do to get this pill is prove her age at the check out counter. In other words, a15-year-old can easily access this pill without her parents knowing about it. Already the supporters of this are arguing that providing ID will still be a barrier to the women (shouldn’t we say, girls) who want this.
Here are my 10 Concerns:
1) So let me understand this. The same girl who needs parent permission to take aspirin or an antibiotic at school can take a morning after pill with no one knowing? The same girl who has to read pages of inform consent to talk to someone in therapy, can take the morning after pill with no one talking to her? Don’t tell me a frightened 15 year old is going to read the risks on the prescription and decided if she should take the pill!
2) Medically, the pill prevents ovulation or fertilization of the egg. But does it prevent a fertilized egg from implanting? The pill works to decrease the uterine lining, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. When that happens, it is abortion. But advocates are redefining abortion to mean only the implanted fertilized egg. How would a person know? A girl may later be faced with the reality that she aborted her child to be. Maybe the drug companies should pay the therapy that might follow.
3) The Mayo Clinic website says that this pill should not be used routinely and doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infection. Who is going to monitor this? And who is going to make sure a 15-year-old doesn’t buy the pill and give it to her 14-year-old friend?
4) The Mayo Clinic recommends telling your health care provider because their is a risk of allergic reaction to this pill, or possible drug interactions. Are 15-year olds going to call their doctors and ask about these possibilities?
5) Side effects include:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Breast tenderness
• Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
• Lower abdominal pain or cramps
These could be a bit frightening for a 15-year-old who doesn’t understand her body. And if you are vomiting, you may have to repeat the dose, but the website says you should contact your physician. Again, are 15 year-olds going to do this?
6) What about a girl with existing medical problems? Who is tracking that since this can be done in complete secrecy.
7) In my opinion, a 15-year-old is not mature enough to make this type of decision. Sex is a physical act that can be performed at 15, but dealing with the emotional, physical and psychological consequences is another thing. The issue is why is a 15-year-old having sex? Who is speaking to that, especially if this is hidden from parents?
8) Schools complain about a lack of parent involvement and yet these policies lend to secrecy and a lack of parent involvement. How does a parent help a child who was sexual active when the parent is unaware? Schools want more parents to take responsibility but I guess they get to pick and choose when that is allowed.
9) The family is marginalized when it comes to teen privacy. These are moral issues in which the family needs to be involved, not cut out of the process.
10) Preventing pregnancy is not solely a medical issue. This type of approach to reduce teen pregnancy ignores the role of family, relationships, emotional and spiritual issues and is irresponsible. Reducing teen pregnancy is not a simple problem. it takes caring people to make a difference, not access to a pill!
Parents, weight in –what are your concerns?