Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Sunday, May 26, 2013
American society constantly grapples with how to balance teenage freedom with safety. We restrict our teens’ privilege to drive until 16; we treat them as legal minors until 18 and prohibit their alcohol consumption until 21. We delay in order to protect; after all, adolescents are still developing into mature adults. In fact, it is proven that the brain’s prefrontal cortex, responsible for rational decision-making, doesn’t fully develop until the early 20s. Yet several weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration decided to allow 15-year-old girls over-the-counter access to Plan B, which some call “emergency contraception,” even though it sometimes prevents newly conceived embryos from implanting in the womb.
Ideally, a 15-year-old girl shouldn’t have to worry about much outside high school, her friends and family and faith community. Parents should be an integral part of a 15-year-old’s health care decisions. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case with Plan B.
Girls under 17 have been allowed for years to obtain it without parental consent as long as they have a doctor’s prescription. Now, however, Plan B will be available on the pharmacy’s shelf without a prescription for purchase by anyone age 15 and older (including males). The FDA is eliminating from the process all responsible adults who could provide counsel to a girl about a potentially dangerous drug. There won’t be a physician’s visit for a prescription or even a conversation with a pharmacist. This simply defies logic.
Plan B is a mega dose of progestin, a synthetic hormone. While we often hear claims that it is among the safest drugs available, it is still a drug, subject to harmful interactions with other drugs (just like regular oral contraception, which is not approved for over-the-counter sale). Further, we need not look any further than the label to see that Plan B significantly raises the probability of ectopic pregnancy if a pregnancy already exists.
Moreover, Plan B is not intended for regular use. Girls (some victims of sexual abuse or exploitation) could use Plan B repeatedly. A trained pharmacist observing the same girl buying Plan B multiple times could be a lifeline.
No amount of oral, barrier or emergency contraception can eliminate the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
Easy access to Plan B will simply promote riskier sexual behavior among younger and younger girls, putting their physical and emotional well-being at risk. Parents need to understand how easy access to Plan B will be once the FDA regulations are effective.
A mega dose of hormone will be on the pharmacy shelf alongside feminine hygiene products and nail polish. It will be there ready for purchase by girls, even those not old enough to drive.
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