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Sunday, June 2, 2013
In an ideal world, teenagers wouldn’t have unprotected sex, and all children would have a relationship with their parents so they could discuss sex and make healthy, responsible choices. Unfortunately, not every teen lives in a family that has healthy lines of communication. Adolescents do have sex. If young people cannot talk to a parent, for whatever reason, the most important thing is that they have access to treatment and emergency contraception, especially when unprotected sex has occurred.
We can all agree that adolescents are still developing and tend to make rash decisions. They are mentally, emotionally and physically ill-equipped to handle the responsibilities of pregnancy and raising children. That is all the more reason for ensuring that emergency contraception is available should they need it.
Every medication, even those sold over-the-counter, list potential side effects on their packaging — most of these side effects are rare. Nearly 40 years of research demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of emergency contraception. Emergency contraception will not work if a woman is already pregnant. Emergency contraception works by delaying ovulation, keeping sperm from fertilizing an egg. Emergency contraception will not be put on displays with the candy at the front of stores, nor will it be available on the shelf next to nail polish and feminine hygiene products. It will be located on the shelf with other birth control methods that are already available over the counter.
Young people between the ages of 15 and 17 could already access emergency contraception without parental consent as long as they had a prescription. Doctors did not — and could not — inform a young woman’s parents that she was taking emergency contraception due to doctor-patient confidentiality laws. The decision by the Food and Drug Administration does nothing to limit parental involvement regarding children’s health decisions. It simply makes a safe, effective medication that needs to be taken quickly more accessible to those who need it.
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