A visit to the pediatrician’s office starts to get pretty personal around age 13, when doctors begin to ask about sexual history.
Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging doctors to also talk to teens about the morning after pill, and even offer a prescription just in case.
Leeza Fitzgerald got pregnant as a sophomore at Legacy High School in Broomfield. “I was almost 16 so definitely a little kid and it was really scary.”
She and her now husband had a baby girl named Neveah, who is now 8-years-old. The couple has two other children as well.
The kids are absolute joys in Leeza’s Life.
But she well tell you it has been a long and sometimes difficult road, and not one she had envisioned.
She wishes as a teenager she had had meaningful conversations with her pediatrician about birth control and the morning after pill.
“I think it would have been nice to have that option to go and get it without questions asked basically.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.
In a new policy statement the AAP recommends that emergency contraception be available to teens, saying teens are more likely to use it if pediatricians prescribe it in advance.
That practice is nothing new for Dr. Steve Perry, a pediatrician at Cherry Creek Pediatrics in Denver. “Part of reproductive health is talking about sexual history,” he says.
Dr. Perry says if a teen is sexually active, he will talk to them about the risks, about abstinence and safe sex practices. He will offer teens a prescription for emergency contraception.
“We really would rather them make better choices but we are not naïve and we know teenagers a lot of them are sexually active and they come in asking for our guidance and it’s our duty I think to give them the best information that we can.”
“Plan B,” or the generic version “Next Choice” are pills that can be taken after unprotected sex to prevent ovulation and fertilization.
Doctors say the pills prevent pregnancy and are not abortion pills. Emergency contraception is available to anyone 17 and older over-the-counter, but if you’re younger than that you do need a prescription.
Dr. Perry thinks it’s important for doctors to offer the prescription. “It’s very controversial but I would rather a teenager know about that than have an unintended pregnancy.”
But Lance Ballantine, a father of three from Broomfield absolutely disagrees. “I think it’s very upsetting and heartbreaking.”
He believes this approach sends a terrible message to young girls. “Go ahead and have sex all you want and if something happens and you do get pregnant, well we have a pill that will take care of that so don`t you worry about that either,” he says.
In a state where some schools have nurseries, he believes kids need to be taught abstinence and not counseled about the morning after pill. “I think they might think of it as an easy out, like a get-out-of-jail free card.”
Back at Leeza’s house, she doesn’t think that’s very realistic.
It’s a hot issue with strong points of view on both sides.