The AAP’s new policy statement on emergency contraception (Plan B) didn’t take very long to cause a stir, now did it? Roni Caryn Rabin explains the policy:
When a teenager goes in for a checkup, the pediatrician often asks the parent to step outside so the doctor can talk to the youngster one-on-one about sensitive topics, like whether she is using drugs or is sexually active.
Now the nation’s leading pediatrics organization is encouraging doctors to also talk to teenagers about the morning-after pill — and to send girls home with prescriptions for emergency contraception, just in case.
Here come the naysayers:
Objections to increasing availability come from many quarters. Advocates of abstinence education say doctors should encourage teenagers to delay sexual activity.
“Why not write a policy that encourages physicians to use their influence to guide teens to avoid all the risks related to sex?” said Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association.
Really? That’s a pretty lame suggestion if you ask me. And this guy misses the point completely:
John B. Jemmott III, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who developed an abstinence-only sex education program, said, “The problem is that this doesn’t do anything about sexually transmitted diseases and H.I.V.” If teenagers have sex, “we want them using condoms.”
Of course we do! Here’s the problem, according to Rabin:
The average age of initiation is 17; by age 19, about 70 percent of teenagers are sexually active. Still, though teenage childbearing rates have dropped sharply in the last 50 years, the teenage birthrate in America is one of the highest in the developed world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some teenagers listen to the advice of their parents and pediatricians. Obviously, most teens don’t!
Which brings us back to Plan B. The more I think about the new policy, the more I agree with it. I think it could be an excellent tool to drive the discussion about sexual activity at a teenage well-child visit. Perhaps the discussion should be with both parent and daughter in the room, with the prescription handed to the parent rather than the patient.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the comment box below.
Read Roni Caryn Rabin’s NYTimes.com article here.
Read prior PediaBlog post regarding Plan B here.