There are some people out there who really don’t want young women to have access to contraception. A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health has found that a good chunk of pharmacies aren’t giving teens the right information about emergency contraception.
Posing as 17-year-old girls, the researchers called 940 pharmacies in Nashville, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Austin, and Portland, OR. What they found is both shocking and entirely unsurprising, if that’s possible. The researchers posing as teens were told by 20 percent of the pharmacies they called that teens couldn’t get an emergency contraceptive at all. This, of course, is untrue. In addition, only about half of the remaining 80 percent got the age requirement right.
This study was completed before the age restriction was lifted for one type of emergency contraception, Plan B One-Step. I’d like to give pharmacies the benefit of the doubt. As Think Progress reports, there is still a brand of EC that requires women of all ages to get a prescription. But really, it’s the pharmacy’s job to know this kind of thing, so giving them the benefit of the doubt is probably letting them off too easy.
Besides, there seemed to be a lot of general confusion surrounding Plan B that just shouldn’t be there. According to Think Progress,
Some pharmacists incorrectly told teens that they needed to be accompanied by a parent or guardian if they wanted to buy Plan B. Some said that they didnít stock the contraceptive at all for moral or ethical reasons. But mostly, there was a lot of confusion over the regulations surrounding the morning after pill ó the researchers were told that they needed to be 18 years old, or they needed to be female, or they needed a prescription.
You know, I think I’m going to start a pharmacy that doesn’t sell blood pressure medication, because you should have really thought about the consequences before eating that triple cheeseburger and smoking that cigarette. There needs to be some personal responsibility, people!
I can’t help but feel for teenagers. Adults simply don’t know how to deal with them. Not quite children, not quite adults. I even referred earlier in the post to “17-year-old girls.” Should I have written “17-year-old women?” They are certainly closer to the latter than the former.
And teen sexuality? Forget about it! It’s easier to just ignore it or pretend that abstinence-only education works than confront the very real possibility that teenagers are having sex with each other.
If we care about our teens, we need to start being more open about this stuff. Teen pregnancy rates go down if teens have access to contraceptives. Preventing teenagers from getting pregnant isn’t something we should be doing just because, either. Teen pregnancy has negative impacts on the economy and the educational achievements of the teenage mother. Even the lives of the child are negatively effected. According to the CDC, the children of teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, have more health problems, go to jail, have problems finding a job and perpetuate the cycle by giving birth as a teenager themselves.
So we know that giving teens accurate information about and access to contraception is a good thing for everyone involved, yet we still get weird about it. You would think that the one place teens could get accurate information is from the pharmacy. Our teenagers deserve better than this.
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