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Family Matters

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Linda Mintle, Ph.D. is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author of 16 books, a national expert on family issues and the psychology of food and weight. She's an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a national speaker, writer, and news contributor.

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The Morning After Pill: Is the Federal Government Parenting Your Teen?

Sure, this is a provocative title, but you should really think through the decision made by the FDA to lower the age for the morning after pill from 17 years of age to 15.

The supporters say it gives teens access to needed pregnancy prevention. But when preventing pregnancy is up to the government and not the family, I get anxious.

Here are 8 concerns:

1)  The same girl who needs parent permission to take aspirin or an antibiotic at school can take a morning after pill with no one knowing? The same girl who has to read pages of inform consent to talk to someone in therapy, can take the morning after pill with no one talking to her? Don’t tell me a frightened 15 year old is going to read the risks on the prescription and decided if she should take the pill!

2)  Medically, the pill prevents ovulation or fertilization of the egg. But does it prevent a fertilized egg from implanting? The pill works to decrease the uterine lining, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. When that happens, it is abortion. But advocates are redefining abortion to mean only the implanted fertilized egg. How would a person know? A girl may later be faced with the reality that she aborted her child to be. Maybe the drug companies should pay the therapy that might follow.

3)  The Mayo Clinic website says that this pill should not be used routinely and doesn't protect from sexually transmitted infections. Who is going to monitor this?

4)  The Mayo Clinic recommends telling your healthcare provider because there is a risk of allergic reaction to this pill or drug interactions. Are 15-year-olds going to call their doctors and ask about these possibilities?

5)  Side effects can cause vomiting, bleeding, and abdominal pain—a bit frightening for a 15-year-old who doesn’t understand her body. And if you are vomiting, you may have to repeat the dose, but the website says you should contact your physician. Again, will 15 year olds do this?

6)  In my opinion, a 15 year old is not mature enough to make this type of decision. Sex is a physical act that can be performed at 15, but dealing with the emotional, physical and psychological consequences is another thing. The issue is why is a 15-year-old having sex? Who is addressing that, especially if this is hidden from parents?

7)  Schools complain about a lack of parent involvement and yet these policies lend to secrecy and a lack of parent involvement. How can a parent help their child when they’re kept in the dark? Schools want more parents to take responsibility, but I guess they get to pick and choose when that is allowed.

8)  The family is marginalized when it comes to teen privacy. These are moral issues in which the family needs to be involved, not cut out of the process. 

Parents, weigh in!

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Thursday, May 02, 2013 5:34 PM

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