The American Academy of Pediatrics says improved access to emergency contraception for teenagers could reduce the nation's teen pregnancy rates.
The numbers have declined over the last two decades, but the U.S. still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates of all developed countries. And 27 percent of all teen pregnancies end in abortion.
Medications like Plan B-- taken within 12 hours of intercourse-- do not cause abortions, but they can prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation. The drugs are available over the counter to those 17 and older, but younger teenagers need a prescription. The Academy now says those prescriptions should be written ahead of time, so sexually active teenagers will be able to take them early on when they're most effective.
"How can you, if you know that kids are going to be sexually active, how can you protect them? Well, you can tell them about emergency contraception, which I think a lot of people are doing, but now what this statement is saying is to consider going that extra step and making it as available as possible. So, if you're prescribing birth control pill to a teen who is under 17 and you know they're using it because they're sexually active, you should consider also giving them a prescription for emergency contraception, as opposed to just telling them about it," said Dr. Barbara Frankowski, a pediatrician at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.
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