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In the News (or not), Parenting, School Years, Teens

This Plan B Just Plain Crazy

Plan B One-Step® is a registered trademark of Women's Capital Corporation.

©2013 Teva Women’s Health, Inc. All rights reserved

Plan B is an oral emergency contraceptive that has been all over the news lately. Better known as “the morning after pill,” the medication has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. A federal judge ruled on April 5, 2013 that Plan B was to be made available to all “women,” over-the-counter, regardless of age. Now, the FDA has decided that at least one version of the drug, Plan B One-Step will be made available to all women, over-the-counter, but they must provide proof-of-age and be 15 or older.

Advocates claim that this is an advance for women’s rights, reproductive rights and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. It very well may be. As a mother, I am deeply troubled by this ruling.

Plan B One-Step is not a completely benign medication without risks. In fact, it has known side effects that could be quite troubling and like any medication, could even cause an allergic reaction. I am concerned that very young girls will now have the ability to bypass not just their parents, but ANY medical professionals, including a pharmacist, to purchase and ingest this medication. A young girl is very unlikely to have the experience or education to know that she needs to read the label carefully before taking the drug. She needs to check for contraindications. She needs to be aware that the medication may not work and what to do if that’s the case. She needs to know what the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are, as that is life-threatening. She may find a false sense of security in taking this pill and not even take precautions or maintain a sense of awareness in the following weeks. This is truly frightening.

Parents are legally responsible for their children until the age of 18. There is a good reason for that. Children do not have the capacity to make fully informed decisions. They need an adult to assist them and guide them. Allowing young girls to make medical decisions without ANYONE’S input is absolutely terrifying.

From a legal standpoint, it’s also terrifying that we would make it that much easier for our children to engage in sexual activity, and especially risky sexual activity, without our knowledge or consent. Almost every state in the nation has laws concerning sexual activity with and among minors. If your minor child is sexually active and violating state law without your knowledge, you may can still held accountable for this and charged with neglect.

Plan B One-Step has been demonstrated to become less and less effective the more it’s used. I seriously doubt a young teen will notice that. An adult would notice if a teen had used it 3 times in 5 months and would begin counseling efforts to improve the quality of birth control or other behavioral changes. If a young teen experiences serious side effects, but has declined to inform her parents or doctor that she took this pill, how likely is it she will reach out for help for these problems?

It is bizarre to me that in some states we do not allow teens to purchase spray paint or cough medicine, but we will allow them to purchase this high-dose oral contraceptive without consulting even ONE SINGLE ADULT?

Proponents argue that age restrictions must be lifted due to the need to take the medication within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. I would suggest that age restrictions are not the only barrier to children getting this medication. The simple fact that a girl is 14 or 15 years old also means she has limited money, limited means for transportation and limited knowledge of her options. A 14-year-old can’t just grab her credit card, hop in her car and drive to the pharmacy. She has quite a few other barriers in addition to the requirement that she consult with a doctor.

At the very least, put the drug behind the pharmacy counter. Require a consultation with the pharmacist and log the purchase. We can’t just throw our kids to the wolves. They deserve to have SOME adult care enough to oversee their medical care. If you are going to take away my right to supervise my child’s medical care, the least you can do is make sure someone else will be checking on her in my place. Someone? Anyone?

©UnnecessaryWisdom.wordpress.com 2013

 

Discussion

5 thoughts on “This Plan B Just Plain Crazy

  1. I agree and like you am deeply troubled. I do not look forward to what may come in the days ahead concerning these matters.

    Posted by jackscrunchymama | May 1, 2013, 4:06 pm
    • It seems that we have to talk to our children at ever younger ages about EVERY possibility. It comes back to us, as parents, to monitor closely. I know that my kids have very limited options for getting places until they are much older teens, but still. I hate to think that they would ingest medications without the opportunity to be told what the risks are, how it might interact with something else they were taking, etc.

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 1, 2013, 4:12 pm
  2. The reason they made this over-the-counter is too many pharmacists have decided to play preacher and refuse this medication to full-grown women because it offends their own religious sensibilities. Do something about that and I could agree with you.

    An obvious answer, barring putting it back in the pharmacist’s hands, is to slap an age limit on the medication. We already do that with things like spray paint (because of huffing) and alcoholic beverages and tobacco. BUT, here’s another potential scenario. Let’s say the girl comes from an abusive home. Is it really the best idea for her to have to tell her parents? And not everyone under the age of 18 but older than 12 is the mental age of a 5-year-old. This goes back to parents giving their kids a proper education in these matters–the reason the kids don’t know is the parents don’t tell them, thinking that withholding information will keep them out of trouble. Anything but.

    Posted by Dana | May 4, 2013, 12:42 pm
    • I couldn’t agree more that a pharmacist refusing a medication for personal beliefs is beyond unethical and outrageous. This is, in my opinion, a good medication, and serves a very useful purpose. I wouldn’t want it removed.

      I’ve known young teens who were in very bad situations and felt they couldn’t go to their parents for help. It is truly troubling. My concern is that, just on a developmental level, teens are still in the process of learning how to make decisions and anticipate the consequences of actions. This is on a brain level. The pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for this type of processing, is not fully developed in a human until the early 20’s. So, regardless of the maturity level, the teen still needs support and guidance. It pains me to think of a young girl making these decisions alone. I would hate to think of a girl making these decisions, finding herself in a worse situation and not having anyone there to help her. I guess I would like to see her involved with at least one adult (Planned Parenthood, school nurse, doctor, pharmacist, other adult.) You are absolutely correct that parents need to be involved and talking to their kids about everything, including contraception and now, emergency contraception. Thank you, Dana!

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 4, 2013, 1:05 pm

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