The Mash

A package of Plan B contraceptives. (Getty Images)

Editor’s note: President Obama’s administration stopped pursuing their legal efforts to block the sale of Plan B contraceptives over the counter at pharmacies and other stores. The decision paves the way for even underage girls to buy the pregnancy prevention medication without a doctor’s prescription–and without a parent’s knowledge or permission. The Mash asked its student reporters how they feel about Obama’s decision.

UPDATE:

By Victoria Gonzalez
Riverside Brookfield

I don’t believe that this course of action is the best for teens and young women. I’m a strong believer in women having total rights when it comes to their own bodies, but I fear that many of these young girls are making decisions to take Plan B–which in actuality is a high dosage of birth control–without knowing the facts.

Nowadays, the “Plan B” pill is popular for young girls who fear they might be pregnant, but I believe that the pill has become so popular that young people feel more inclined to have unprotected sex because they figure, “I can always go and get Plan B.”

What many young people seem to forget is that pregnancy isn’t the only thing that can come from having unprotected sex, sexually transmitted diseases are a possibility as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use, “emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).”

Another outcome that worries me is the amount of times that some girls take the pill. I can see having a pregnancy scare and then going to Plan B, but the problem is that some young women may have taken more emergency contraception or EC’s, which is what Plan B is, than is probably healthy for them. “There are young people in my practice who have developed blood clots from taking birth control pills and some of those blood clots can be potentially fatal,” said Circle Family Healthcare Network obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Pamela Smith.

Many of these possible complications could be avoided if the person were to see a doctor beforehand, she said. “There are some kids who can develop medical complications, but if you are a doctor you see these possible complications before referring them to the pill.

“There are many risks that come with taking the pill that can go unnoticed or untreated because of the lack of doctor visits before and after taking the pill. I do have concerns in regards to people developing very serious medical problems after using these pills,” Smith said.

This is something that many young women and teens don’t know, and making this pill available over the counter for all ages can have many dangerous affects on female youth.

“… Very young girls are still going through puberty, and with all this hormonal manipulation we really do not know how it is going to affect their ability to ovulate later on in life,” Smith said. She added that young people who get an STD could have trouble or become unable to have children in the future.”

If contraception is administered by a physician, these young girls will be armed with the information they need to know and be encouraged to attend the checkups that are advised after taking EC’s.

But I believe that if this pill becomes available over the counter for all ages, almost none of these young women will see a doctor before or after taking the pill since they will not be required to.

 

By Africa Baker
Oswego

People are making quite a stir about the Obama administration reversing its position on the over-the-counter sale of the emergency contraceptive, Plan B One-Step. Personally, I don’t see a problem in allowing girls of all ages to buy this “morning-after” pill.

Considering the fact that I’m against abortion I think the idea of removing age restrictions on this pill is great. Not only does it prevent unwanted pregnancies but it does so without actually terminating a pregnancy or harming the fetus.

Some may argue that permitting girls to purchase the contraceptive without parents’ permission or a prescription undermines parental authority and encourages teens to have sex. However, over-the-counter birth control is not a factor that persuades teens to have sex, it’s everything else in the world. Movies, music, TV and books can all be considered factors that influence teens’ decision to engage in sexual intercourse.

And honestly, at the end of the day, that’s all it really is: a decision. Once a teenager decides they want something, they will do everything in their power to obtain it and that applies to everything from sex to the new Ke$ha album.

So, allowing girls to purchase Plan B One-Step gives them an extra sense of comfort. If girls don’t take advantage of this opportunity because of their emotions, then that isn’t OK. If a girl is too embarrassed to buy birth control, then she shouldn’t be having sex.

 

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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