Pediatric Group Warns Against Pre-Prescribing Emergency Contraceptives to Adolescents

Melanie Arter | December 3, 2012 | 4:14pm EST
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Plan B, emergency contraceptive drug (AP Photo)

( The American College of Pediatricians on Monday warned that increasing access to emergency contraceptives does not lower pregnancy rates among adolescents and young adults, but rather increases incidents of sexually transmitted diseases.

“Despite self-reports denying it; ‘ready access’ to EC apparently increases the sexual activity of adolescents which is a risk factor for depression and suicide, poor school performance, more lifetime sexual partners, and an increased divorce rate,” the American College of Pediatricians, a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals, said in a press release.

The American College of Pediatricians disputed the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said pediatricians should give adolescents a prescription for emergency contraception and advise their patients to use it in case of unprotected sex.

Among the core values of the American College of Pediatricians is that it “recognizes the physical and emotional benefits of abstinence until marriage and pledges to promote this behavior as the ideal for adolescence.”

Emergency contraception not only prevents ovulation, it also aborts a fertilized egg, which can happen when emergency contraception is taken immediately and “nearly always when taken more than 48 hours after intercourse,” the medical group advised.

“Because the College advocates for life from the time of conception, it opposes all methods of EC that work after fertilization by killing a human embryo,” it said.

The College said the brain does not reach full maturity until early adulthood, so adolescents need parental guidance in decision-making.

“Bypassing parental involvement with advance prescriptions for emergency contraception is not best for adolescents as EC can cause adverse side effects including heavy/irregular menstrual bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, and pelvic pain. Any use of EC requires close monitoring,” it said.

The College also warns that increasing access to emergency contraception may contribute to more sexual assaults.

“Ready access to EC may persuade an adolescent who has been sexually assaulted to avoid treatment by an emergency department, foregoing a forensic exam, and losing the benefit of sexual assault teams trained to counsel her. Such avoidance will only lead to more sexual assaults as the perpetrator is not pursued,” the medical group said.

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