It is really no surprise that the American Academy of Pediatrics is advocating for teenage girls to receive prescriptions for morning after contraception so they’ll have it just in case. I say it’s no surprise because a 1993 study revealed that 60 percent of the academy’s membership favored abortion for teenagers with “undesired” pregnancies and because the academy has jumped on the “free contraception for all” bandwagon mandated by President Obama’s health-care law.
As Catholics, we oppose both the use of artificial contraception and sex outside of marriage. As pro-lifers, we oppose this “morning after” contraception because, in fact, it can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex, by which time fertilization has occurred. To interfere with the cycle at this point is to cause a direct abortion.
I also oppose morning-after contraception as a parent. This recommendation from the physician’s group represents another attack on parental rights. A doctor who sees a teen as infrequently as once a year has no business, and no right, to insert himself or herself into a discussion about values and morality. That’s the job of a parent.
Think about the things we warn our kids about: Smoking, drinking, experimenting with drugs. The accepted wisdom in combating these things is that we must talk to our teens, often. Hundreds of web sites and several ad campaigns have been built to promote the idea that parents are the best defense. Drugfree.org used to have a campaign called “Parents: The Anti-Drug.” Remember that?
So why, when it comes to teenage sexuality, should we asked to abdicate our responsibilities? And why should we allow doctors to second-guess us? If we have made it clear to our teenagers that sex is something sacred and meant to be enjoyed by two people who have made a lifelong commitment to each other through marriage, we shouldn’t accept the interference of a physician – however well-meaning – who tells our teens that “accidents happen” and here’s a way out.
Morality aside, morning after contraception is a powerful drug that no one should be encouraging teenagers to use. Here’s what the well-respected Mayo Clinic has to say about it:
The morning-after pill isn’t appropriate for everyone. Tell your health care provider if:
- You’re allergic to any component of the morning-after pill
- You’re taking certain medications that may decrease the effectiveness of the morning-after pill, such as barbiturates or St. John’s wort
- You’re breast-feeding (Plan B One-Step and Next Choice can be used during breast-feeding, but Ella isn’t recommended)
In addition, make sure you’re not pregnant before using Ella. The effects of Ella on a developing baby are unknown. However, if you’re already pregnant when you take Plan B One-Step or Next Choice, the treatment will simply be ineffective and won’t harm the developing baby.
Side effects of the morning-after pill typically last only a few days and may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breast tenderness
- Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain or cramps
As parents, as pro-lifers, as people of conscience, we cannot allow this recommendation by a group of doctors to become the law of the land.
As Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote in the National Review Online:
“Could we actually take a few steps back together here? Toward something healthier than a wholesale surrender of innocence, medical knowledge, and common sense? Could we ask for a cultural second opinion? It will require a little critical perseverance in the face of attractive, distracting rhetoric about health and freedom. But, ‘for the children,’ can we afford anything less?”