Emergency Contraception: Risky Business for the Teen

Gainesville, Florida – May 1, 2013 – The American College of Pediatricians continues to oppose the over-the-counter distribution of “emergency contraceptive” medication to children as recently mandated by the court. The potency of these medications demands physician oversight, and equally important their over-the-counter availability circumvents parental involvement and may facilitate adolescent abuse.  Health professionals need to encourage good parent-child communication, teach minors the benefits of delaying sexual activity until marriage, and teach them how to avoid situations resulting in coerced sex and premature/promiscuous consensual sex.

Increased access to “emergency contraception” (EC) does not result in lower pregnancy rates among adolescents and young adults, while it is associated with an increased incidence of sexually transmitted infections. Despite self-reports denying it, “ready access” to EC appears to increase adolescent sexual activity. Increased sexual activity is a known risk factor for depression, suicide, poor school performance, more lifetime sexual partners, and an increased divorce rate.

Additionally, since the human brain does not reach full maturity until early adulthood, minors need the guidance of their parents in decision-making on critical issues such as this.

The College explains these issues more fully in its newly updated position statement, “Emergency Contraception: Not Best for Adolescents.” (Also available in PDF format here.)