May 5, 2013

After FDA ruling, little room for agreement on morning-after pill

A sampling of opinions suggests that many Americans feel strongly about the issue.

By BETH J. HARPAZ The Associated Press

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Allison Guarino
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Allison Guarino, 19, a freshman at Boston University, teaches pregnancy prevention to ninth-graders in Boston public schools and says she encounters a lot of ignorance among the kids she works with.

The Associated Press

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Pharmacist Simon Gorelikov holds a generic emergency contraceptive at the Health First Pharmacy in Boston.

The Associated Press

Sophia Martin, who teaches at a high school in Northern California where many students continue their education after being expelled from other schools, said she "can understand how upsetting it is to think your kid might engage in unprotected sex and then get the morning after pill without your knowledge. But to me the core reason to abolish any kind of age limit is that there are young people who are in situations in their families where they can't turn to their parents."

Martin said some girls become "pregnant not because they chose to have sex. It's such a hard situation for them to talk about."

But Andrew Bay, 19, who's finishing up his freshman year at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., says he thinks making the morning-after pill so easily available "almost encourages even younger children to have unprotected sex." If he had to put an age limit on getting the drug without a prescription, "It should probably be 18. At least at 18 you're considered mature enough to make medical decisions on your own."

Denny Pattyn, founder of Silver Ring Thing, which promotes chastity until marriage and encourages young people to wear purity rings to symbolize their commitments, said he worries that allowing younger teens to get the morning-after pill without a doctor or parent's knowledge is going to increase the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. "It's incredibly irresponsible," he said. "These kids are getting these diseases and they don't even know they're getting them."

Dr. Cora Breuner of the American Academy of Pediatrics said headlines about the age limit have prompted some families to broach the topic of safe sex. Even if parents don't bring it up, teens are hearing about it.

"I know this in my own practice, there are a lot more conversations between parents and their children about this decision," said Breuner, an adolescent health specialist at Seattle Children's Hospital. "This will prompt a conversation nationally that can help at so many levels."


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