Morning-After Pill Available To Teens Under 17

The Plan B controversy continues.

The morning-after pill, also known as Plan B, is back in the news again after a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to sell it unrestricted (to people of all ages) over the counter.

Plan B emergency contraception is about 90 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex. It is basically a high-dose version of birth control pills. Plan B prevents ovulation or fertilization and needs to be taken within a few days after sex. The morning-after pill is different from the so-called abortion pill, which is designed to terminate a pregnancy.

“Today science has finally prevailed over politics,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statment. “This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods.”

I tend to agree. As a mother, I would love for my kids to abstain from sex until they are responsible adults in committed relationships.

But I live in the real world.

I can understand the strong reaction from parents who oppose this new ruling. But like it or not, teens are having sex. Yes, even your teens.

In the wake of this news, I am reminded of a poignent interview from Jamie Lynn Spears, the little sister of popstar Britney Spears.

At the tender age of 16, when she was just started a career of her own, Jamie Lynn had one of the most high-profile teen pregnancies in history.

“It was 2007,” said Jamie Lynn after discovering her pregnancy. “I had been on a Nickelodeon show, Zoey 101, and after we wrapped shooting, I just wanted to go home to Louisiana and finish high school, be a cheerleader, all that. Then I found out I was pregnant [by then- boyfriend Casey Aldridge]. I was 16. I’d had one boyfriend. It doesn’t make it perfect or all right. But I was judged for something that probably most everyone does. I was young. I was in love. I was like every other teenager, except I had this last name. And I made a decision that is forever my decision.”

Jamie Lynn went on to talk about being embarrassed at the time to reach out for birth control.

“Casey was my first love,” she said. “Since the day I saw him, I just wanted to marry him and be with him forever and ever. I believe in safety and birth control as prevention. But like many young girls…I was really scared to go to the doctor. And I was on a Nickelodeon show, and it [felt] especially embarrassing to ask someone to put me on birth control. I didn’t want to ask my doctor, because she had a little girl.”

Sadly, Jamie Lynn’s fears represent many teens. Whether they’re afraid to talk to their parents, or find access to medical care, youth are often not great at self-advocacy.

I think this new ruling is a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive rights.

Do you think the morning-after pill should be sold without a prescription to people of all ages?

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