Nov 28, 2012 5:36 PM by Ian Auzenne
A society of American doctors is recommending giving emergency contraception to teenagers in the event they may one day need it. The American Academy of Pediatricians says doctors should provide Plan B and other "morning-after" drugs for teenagers "in immediate need of emergency contraception and provide prescriptions . . . to have on hand in case of future need."
The new policy statement, released Monday, says this change could help curb a teen pregnancy rate that, despite declines in the last two decades, is still "significantly higher" than other industrialized nations.
The statement acknowledges abstinence and proper use of contraceptives are the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, but statement adds many teens are at a high risk of contraception failure. The statement says nearly 34 out of every 1,000 15- to 19-year-olds have given birth, and 80% of pregnancies in adolescents are unintended. The authors continue by saying as many as 10% of sexually active teens are the victims of sexual assault.
The statement claims emergency contraception works best in the first 24 hours after intercourse, but can work as late as 120 hours after. The authors advise doctors to counsel their teen patients--boys and girls, alike--on emergency contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and safe sexual behavior. The statement also calls for doctors to advocate for non-prescription access to emergency contraception for teenagers.