Judge removes age limit for emergency contraceptives

By: Christy Dimond Email
By: Christy Dimond Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Girls of all ages will soon have access to emergency contraceptives. A federal judge ruled today women under 17 will no longer need a prescription to access Plan B.

The ruling is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Adolescent Health Organization.

Dr. Patrice Whistler with Western Colorado Pediatric Association said the move will help reduce the number of unplanned teen pregnancies.

“Sometimes contraceptives fail and sometimes adolescents are raped or subject to incest and we don’t feel someone should have to have a pregnancy because of those unintended consequences,” said Dr. Whistler.

Plan B can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy, but Dr. Whistler said it’s not meant to replace normal contraceptives.

“Emergency contraception is just that, it’s not supposed to be used as ‘I’m going to go have sex and then just go take that emergency contraception,’” Dr. Whistler said.

Local mom Michelle Hill said she’s against the ruling and feels it will lead to children to make decisions without the guidance of parents.

“It just gives them one more avenue to feel like ‘I don’t need parents, I don’t need permission,’” Hill said. “It just puts them in a playing field that they’re not ready for.”

On the other hand, mom Lynsey Littlefield said access to Plan B will keep young girls out of potentially dangerous situations.

“We don’t know what kind of homes they’re coming from and what if they had to go home and tell their parents they’re pregnant, and they come from an abusive home? What could happen to that child?” Littlefield said.

Teen pregnancies in Mesa County are on the decline, from 4.3 percent in 2008 to 3.6 percent in 2011 for girls ages 15-19. Tamara Capp with Mesa County Health Department said one reason for that decline is more accessibility to contraceptives.

The judge’s ruling requires pharmacies to allow access to Plan B within the next 30 days.

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