Is Plan B over the counter contraception for teenagers a good idea?

Today the FDA approved the emergency contraception Plan B One-Step without a prescription for women ages 15 and older. Plan B is a one time, one dose oral contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy if taken up to three days after unprotected sex.

The pharmaceutical company Teva, maker of Plan B, originally applied for the drug to be available to any female of reproductive age but when that was denied, amended the application with the 15 year old age limit.

There will undoubtedly be those who oppose having this available over the counter for minors, but I’m all for it. I think it’s a huge step forward in female reproductive rights and is remarkably pragmatic.

Let’s talk about sex, shall we? I’m pretty good at the sex talk; as a single mother of three boys I’ve had to do the sex talk three times with each of them.

First there was the biology talk (boys have penises, girls have vaginas); then the procreation talk right before junior high (BIRTH CONTROL IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, NOT HERS) and then the serious one, when we talked about what sex means to women, and respect for your partner, and love and lust, and no means no, and maybe means no and if you’re not sure what she’s saying that means no, too.

I got a little bit of grief from my friends who thought I was talking to my boys about birth control way too early, but the statistics back me up. Studies show that 12% of middle-school aged children have had vaginal intercourse, and by the end of high school, 62% of seniors have had sex.

In a perfect world, my children will provide me with grandchildren when they have been married for 2-5 years, are financially stable and emotionally prepared to become parents. Isn’t that what we all wish for our children?

But to pretend that our children don’t have sex until their wedding night is foolish and poor parenting. You can want whatever you want, but unless you lock up your teenagers or follow them everywhere, they are going to explore and engage and, more likely than not, have sex before they graduate.

That’s just the way it is, and you can rail against it all you want but it’s not going to change reality.

Although I have talked to my sons about birth control being their responsibility, about how condoms protect from pregnancy and STDs, the truth is that sometimes birth control fails. It happens, and many parents know that to be true because that is how they became parents.

So even though we talk to our children about sex and responsibility, and even though we like to think that our teenagers would come and talk to us if there was a problem, I’m fairly certain that mom or dad is not the first person a teenager is going to talk to if she has unprotected sex.

We fret about teenage pregnancy (while taking sex education out of curriculums) at the same time we try to legislate sexual morality in our adolescents by preventing them from controlling their own reproductive rights.

The FDA’s approval of Plan B One-Step is more than one step in the right direction. It’s another milestone for women to be in control of their own bodies and make their own choices.

Our teenaged sons and daughters are having sex. This is a fact. Let’s help them protect themselves in every way possible- and that includes having a Plan B when Plan A goes awry.


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  • Well said. I like all the ways you explain "no" to your boys!

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