Woahhhhh: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended today that pediatricians should write advance prescriptions for the morning-after pill for girls under 17 so they can get quick access to it if need be. Pediatricians, you guys! If they can't speak realistically about the sex lives of teen girls, who can?
Minors can't buy emergency contraception over the counter, even though the FDA approved OTC sales last December, because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius felt that girls were too young and foolish to buy a medicine thought to be safer than aspirin. So the AAP's announcement is a huge deal, as many experts told Reuters.
Susan Wood, former assistant commissioner for women's health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), called the AAP decision "significant" and said, "it's not often you see physician organizations saying that their patients are better off without the physician involvement." True, that; but, according to the release, the AAP realized that if adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it's prescribed in advance — as studies show — and since its effectiveness decreases as the hours pass, helping teens get their hands on the stuff is a crucial way to help reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. If the government isn't willing to step in, what other choice do they have?
"It's just common sense that requiring a prescription is a barrier," said Bill Alpert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "If an august and respected medical group like AAP is suggesting providing emergency contraception to minors is OK, that is a big deal." Word.
Also: awesome that the AAP announcement follows last week's ACOG recommendation that birth control should be sold OTC, too. Best bandwagon effect ever?