On Thursday, April 23rd, 2009, the FDA approved sale of the Morning After Pill, over the counter for 17-year-olds. Prior to this, it was available over the counter to people 18-years-old and older. Though this may be a step in the right direction, to increase availability and access to emergency contraception, we must wonder what kind of impact this will have.
If people are able to access this at a younger age, does this mean there will be fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions? Or possibly a rise in the STD rate? Though this is an improvement, this must be backed up with reliable information via the education system, i.e. sex education. Many teens are concerned about pregnancy, in most cases, more so than STD’s. Often, young people in the US who are using birth control do not worry much about STD’s because they think they are being safe, by preventing pregnancy. However, in the Netherlands, most young women go on birth control as young as 14. But, via the school systems and sex education, protection from BOTH pregnancy and STD’s is so ingrained in them, that young individuals use both condoms and hormonal birth control (IE. pills, patch, ring, shot). In the Netherlands, it is referred to as “Double Dutch”.
So, although this is now available for younger people, it must be backed up with education. The morning after pill is to be used in case of emergency, not a primary contraceptive method. In addition, just because this is available, and can prevent pregnancy, it does NOT prevent STD’s.