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Pediatrics Society Wants Lower Age Limits for Morning-After Pill

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement yesterday in which its members advocated for the lifting of age restrictions for "emergency contraception" and allowing younger teens to access these products without a prescription.

The Washington Times is reporting that the AAP wants girls under the age of 16 to be able to access Plan B, Plan B One-Step and Next Choice - otherwise known as "morning after pills". All of these products are most effective when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. Currently, U.S. law prohibits anyone under the age of 16 to use the pills without a prescription.

According to Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, a member of the AAP's Committee on Adolescence, the recommendation is based on research showing that teens will use the pills if they have them. While the goal is to encourage sexually active youth to use regular birth control methods, having emergency contraceptives on hand will also help to avoid unwanted pregnancies in this population.

Many experts question the safety of these drugs, which contain higher doses of the same synthetic hormones found in birth control pills which are available by prescription only.

However, Bill Albert, chief program officer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy said the "best science that we know" doesn't support those concerns.

There seems to be “no real evidence to suggest that making contraception, including EC, available to teens, or more readily available to teens, encourages them to begin having sex, have sex at a younger age, or have more sexual partners,” he said.

Wendy Wright, vice president for government relations at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, says there are many other questions that need to be addressed, especially since girls can begin to menstruate as early as age 10 these days. For instance, what evidence is available to prove that children of this age are mature enough to be using such products? What kind of protections would be put in place to prevent girls from sexual exploitation?

Pressure to release these drugs without a prescription is also coming from the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who recently issued a policy statement calling for all oral contraceptives to be available without a prescription.

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