TAMPA - Melani Maddocks and Kasandra Valdes are aunt and niece. Kasandra, 16, says she can talk to her aunt about anything, even sex. “Especially my aunt. Um, I think it’s something I should talk about with my parents not my pediatrician."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is trying a new tactic to fight teen pregnancy. It's now recommending doctors talk to teens about emergency contraception choices like the morning after pill or Plan B, even making advance prescriptions available to teens under 17.
Current federal policy bans the over the counter sale of emergency contraception to girls Kasandra's age, so having a prescription in hand could help younger girls get a morning after pill quicker and without parental knowledge.
For the record, Kasandra didn't even know what Plan B is.
Doctor Madelyn Butler, of The Woman’s Group, explains. “If you have a sexual encounter where you've conceived or maybe you haven't conceived, we don't know, but you take it and it affects the lining of the uterus, so implantation doesn't occur.”
Dr. Butler has concerns about the recommendations and won't change what she tells her patients. “I think that Plan B should only be for emergencies and not be for episodic encounters.”
Diane Straub, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at USF, “If the young woman is already pregnant, it will not abort that fetus."
Dr. Straub believes this recommendation won't increase the rates of sexual behavior but will decrease the number of teen pregnancies.
As for a parent’s right to help young teens make this kind of decision being stripped away, Dr. Straub says, “Most of them haven't had any discussion related to this until much too late, after the kids are sexually active. I can't tell you how many times I've had kids in my office when mom walks out of the room, the girl tells me she's two month late for her period and that's such a tragic situation.”
Since this is just a recommendation, whether the majority of pediatricians include these new recommendations remains to be seen, but Dr. Straub reminds parents we're in this together - with the same goal, so it would be helpful if parents team up with their teen’s doctor.
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