IUDs for 11-Year-Olds? Here’s the Truth About Washington’s Sexual Health Program

Someone is allegedly secretly inserting IUDs into 11-year-olds, and conservatives couldn’t be more disgusted by the idea.

“Kids can’t obtain soda or candy on Seattle school grounds, even with parental approval. But birth control devices are a different matter, as it has just been revealed that the city’s schools are giving IUDs to girls as young as 11,” declares the New American. “Without parental consent.”

The social conservative call to arms is over a program called Take Charge, a Washington-state based Medicaid program that lets teens obtain sexual health care services, including pregnancy prevention devices such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), all without informing their parents or needing their insurance coverage to do it. In some cases schools have in-school clinics, and this includes middle schools, which means that technically yes, a sixth grader could even obtain long acting reversible birth control (LARC) all without a parent even knowing.

There is no actual evidence that sixth graders are taking the clinics up on these sneaky IUDs, but even if that were occurring, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with it. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement in 2012 calling IUDs “top-tier contraceptives” and approved them for teen use, and longterm studies are repeatedly showing that early insertion of the intrauterine devices has had a massive effect on decreasing the rate of unintended teen pregnancies.

“Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest ever real-life experiments with long-acting birth control,” the New York Times recently reported. “If teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years, state officials asked, would those women choose them? They did in a big way, and the results were startling. The birthrate for teenagers across the state plunged 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”

Thinking about children – especially our own children – having sex is often an uncomfortable thing for many. But there inevitably comes a point in the life of every parent of a young girl when he or she realizes that someday, at some point in the future, that daughter will likely become sexually active. Of course we all hope that it will be years down the road, preferably in a stable committed adult relationship. Mostly, though we hope that when it happens that our daughters are ready physically and emotionally and, if they don’t want to get pregnant, that they use contraception.

We also hope that when our children become sexually active, they will talk to us about it. Unfortunately, not every daughter will. It’s for that reason that is it so important that a minor can get access to birth control and other sexual health care without a parent’s notification, a process that can stop unplanned pregnancies and illnesses due to untreated sexually transmitted infections, and that she obtain early prenatal care if a pregnancy does happen and she wants to continue it, or an abortion if she does not.

Teen sex is not an uncommon event, and for years adolescent heath experts have been seeking ways to stop unintended teen pregnancies. With 16 percent of 15-year-olds having had sex at least once, and that number increasing dramatically year to year. By age 19 over 70 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse.

And yes, we want them using contraception when they do. The recent data shows that what is occurring in Colorado isn’t a lone instance. Across the country, teen pregnancy rates are steadily decreasing, leading to not just a decrease in abortion rates but less governmental expenses when it comes to supporting unintended pregnancies, as well as lower drop out and poverty rates down the road.

Is 12-years-old too young for an IUD? Perhaps. But it’s also far to young to become pregnant, and much too young to put a developing body through the act of childbirth. And middle school, with an age range of up to 14- or 15-years-old, is a completely appropriate place to start a program of pregnancy prevention.

Yes, even if that means a parent never knows.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

Shouldn't we be teaching our children responsibility instead? Children these days are growing up feeling entitled to everything they want.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago

Teaching the boys to take responsibility is more useful. Teach them about condoms and how their lives could be saved by using one.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago

Giving children birth control items and decent sex ed is good idea. But stick to condoms. IUDS need to be placed by an expert and monitored to check they're still in the correct place. Not really suitable for children.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Nanette A.
Nanette a2 years ago

What are the statistics of 11 and 12 yr olds having sex and getting pregnant? I do not think an IUD is an answer. Also what happened to protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases? What happened to educating them at younger age vs just inserting an IUD. I don't think at 11 a child can make such choices. I do think BC for a teen that is going to be sexually active should be able to get it without a parents consent but I don't know enough about IUDs to know how safe they are but for sure not for a child that young. In that instance they need some guidance, not just given BC. My husband and I were very open with our son so from a young age when he asked we talked to him but I know a lot of parents don't have that relationship.

Hent catalina - maria


sandra vito
Sandra Vito2 years ago


Deborah W.
Deborah W2 years ago

... forgot one important question: AND WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH THE BOYS?