Commentary Contraception

Teen Immaturity Is Not the Problem with Plan B. The Immaturity of Politicians Is.

Catherine Rivera

Teenagers already get around the legal barriers that exist and will continue existing in accessing emergency contraception. While these steps showcase their maturity to be able to safely and smartly take emergency contraception, we should not have to force teenagers to go around the system to access a pill they need in a timely manner.

See all our coverage of the Administration’s 2011 Emergency Contraception Reversal here.

Teenagers get a lot of crap for going above, under, and around the laws that are established to keep them “safe.” Some of these laws are completely well-founded. Others are not.  President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, betrayed millions of teens and young people (along with their doctors, parents, and supportive adults) by telling them that they were not mature enough to decide to prevent a pregnancy.

As a recent teenager, I want to set the record straight on some things that our politicians may not have realized. Teenagers do have the maturity to know how and when to take Plan B. Teenagers know that emergency contraception is what you use when the condom breaks, when pulling out doesn’t go as planned, when contraception wasn’t available. They know it can stop pregnancy from occurring and that they shouldn’t wait until Monday when they MAY be able to go to the doctor to get a prescription.

Because let’s face it, sex for teenagers happens more often when their parents are out for the night, when they don’t have school the next morning, and when they have the most free time. Monday isn’t going to cut it and while teenagers may want to go to the pharmacy and pick up Plan B because they want to protect themselves or their partners from becoming pregnant, they can’t. Not because they are going to abuse it, not because they don’t know how to use it, not because they lack the maturity to know what consequence the lack of action could have, but because politicians have deemed that it’s immoral to let teenagers to access Plan B. They are denying teenagers access to something that could help them continue being teenagers, because isn’t that what every parent, neighbor, and president wants?

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Teenagers under 17, who can’t legally access Plan B, do sometimes have access to it. The majority of people that I know who have used Plan B were not 17 and they didn’t go to a doctor to get a prescription to get emergency contraception. Teenagers know that there are faster ways to get Plan B and so, while millions of adults don’t have the maturity to admit simple (or big) mistakes, teenagers admit to their friend, their sibling, their cousin that they messed up and they need that person to buy them or their partner emergency contraception. These teenagers use their birthday, babysitting, or lawn- mowing money to buy a $50 pill that will prevent a pregnancy and enable them to continue being teens.

They are forced to do this through a network of texts, Facebook chats, late-night phone calls and other means, because our politicians don’t believe that they have the maturity to use this pill correctly or safely despite what doctors, parents, and teenagers themselves are saying. However, the unlucky teenagers who don’t know or trust anyone old enough to access emergency contraception are forced to face the stress of a possibly pregnancy and, sometimes, an unintended pregnancy that can derail the life of the teen and her partner.

Teenagers know the what emergency contraception does, how it can help them avoid teen pregnancy, and why and when they need it and are unable to access it because of political immaturity, not their own.

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