Sex + Relationships

Spotlight: The Morning-After Pill

At the beginning of this month, a judge in New York City demanded removal of the age restriction on the morning-after pill birth control prescription. The consequential legal battle has raised the following question: Is it ethical to give girls under the age of 17 access to the morning-after pill, or are these individuals not yet mature enough to use such a contraceptive?

What is it?

According to Mayo Clinic, the morning-after pill is a “type of emergency birth control (contraception). The purpose of emergency contraception is to prevent pregnancy after a woman has had unprotected sex.”

In other words, it is an extreme version of birth control that needs to be taken within 72 hours of intercourse in order to ensure pregnancy does not occur. It does not, however, stop implantation (the early stage of pregnancy when an embryo attaches to the wall of a uterus) — it is not the abortion pill.

What kinds of morning-after pills are there?

There are three forms of morning-after pills that are legal in the United States: Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, and Ella

What are the differences?

All three contain roughly the same ingredients, though a package of Plan B One-Step costs between $35 and $60, significantly cheaper than the other two.

So what are some reasons why girls under the age of 18 should be given access to this pill?

  • Young women should have control over their own bodies; they are the ones that live with it for the rest of their lives. Access to emergency contraceptives can be another step in equal rights for women.
  • Adolescents who want to have sex are going to have sex, whether their parents or anyone else tell them not to. America must be realistic so that adolescents can act responsibly.
  • 30 states in the US have the legal age of sexual consent set at 16, and 9 states have it set at 17. That’s 39 states, or 78% of the US, that can legally have sex under the age of 18. If you can make the decision to have sex under the age of 18 without your parents’ consent, then you should also have the ability to be responsible about it and have access to birth control without your parents’ consent.
  • Having access to other forms of contraception such as the morning after pill can be helpful in cases of missed birth control doses and forgetting a condom. It’ll decrease teen pregnancies and abortions.
  • Decreasing unwanted pregnancies will decrease all those negative social, economic, mental, physical, and emotional health effects for children.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that reducing the unintended pregnancy rate is a national public health goal. This court decision will help the goal prosper.

Well that sounds great…. So why is it controversial?

  • Like I said before — teens like sex. Many argue that having unlimited access to the morning-after pill without their parents’ knowledge may lead to excessive sexual promiscuity. Endless access could give kids the idea that they can have frivolous sex with an “easy solution.” The morning after-pill should be used in only the most necessary cases.
  • Sexual promiscuity can lead to not only pregnancy but also to STDS. Many young people do not realize that the morning-after pill does not prevent STDs, and so they forgo condoms in order to have unprotected sex, thinking that they can simply use the morning-after pill later.
  • The morning-after pill does have a few side effects, including nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, menstrual changes, dizziness, breast tenderness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • It arguably makes kids grow up too fast and takes away a parent’s control. When kids don’t have to ask for permission, it’s just another way parent’s lose control, says Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union. In a talk with HLN’s “Evening Express,” she stated that the court decision  “gives a young child, between the age of 14 and 17, a chemical drug and hormonal cocktail without the knowledge of the parent, not knowing the medical history or if that child has any kind of drug allergies.”

56% of Americans believe the morning after pill should be made available to all women under the age of 18 without a prescription, while 44% of Americans are against it. Which side do you agree with? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

By Madysan Foltz

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