WASHINGTON - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Monday called on the nation's pediatricians to counsel all of their adolescent patients about emergency contraception and make advance prescriptions for it available to girls under 17-years-old.
Current federal policy bans over-the-counter sales of the pills to girls under 17.
According to the AAP's website:
Adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it's prescribed in advance. Many teens continue to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, and as many as 10 percent are victims of sexual assault. Other indications for use include contraceptive failures (defective or slipped condoms, or missed or late doses of other contraceptives). When used within 120 hours after having unprotected or under-protected sex, selected regimens for emergency contraception, such as Plan B, Next Choice, etc., are the only contraceptive methods to prevent unwanted pregnancy. According to the AAP, pediatricians can play an important role in counseling patients and providing prescriptions for teens in need of emergency contraception for preventing pregnancy. Patients should also know that emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pediatricians should discuss the importance of STI testing, or treatment if needed. The AAP also encourages pediatricians to advocate for better insurance coverage and increased access to emergency contraception for teens, regardless of age.
One factor in the AAP's recommendation is that although teen pregnancies in the United States have declined since 1991, the rate is higher than in most other developed countries. The percent of 15- to 18-year-olds who report ever having intercourse - just over 40 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - is, however, lower than in many developed countries.
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