ó Carla Mannings considers herself to be a pretty
her 16-year-old daughter talk about everything under the sun.
girlís body changes as she gets older.
south Fulton, Ga., mother of two disagrees with a recent U.S.
Food and Drug Administration plan to make the Plan B One-Step
morning-after pill available over the counter to girls as
young as 15 with proof of age. The age for the single-dose
pill was previously 17.
still talking about what happens at cheerleading and
dance," she said. "The logic and maturity level is
just not there. And if they rely on each other for advice, itís
like the blind leading the blind. To give that responsibility
to a minor is inferring that that minor has a maturity level
to not only have sexual intercourse but to make decisions
about what to do later."
Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong, an
Atlanta-based reproductive justice organization for women of
color, sees things differently.
she worries about people who may struggle to gain access to
health care or who may not have a good relationship with their
are growing up much faster," Simpson said. "Girls
are having sex at 15. This is an opportunity for women to be
able to make decisions to choose a different course in their
decision has opened wider a Pandoraís box of controversy
over the use of emergency contraceptives that perhaps has
never really been closed. Itís gained steam in recent years
as battles have waged in state legislatures and Washington
over abortion and reproductive rights.
another matter, a federal judge wants to make another
morning-after pill ó two-dose Plan B ó available to all
women, regardless of age. The U.S. Justice Department is
appealing that ruling.
L. Ward, the mother of an adult daughter and director of
public relations and education for Georgia Right to Life, said
the FDAís move takes parents out of the loop.
floors me that when my daughter was in school, she couldnít
have a cough drop or aspirin without my permission," said
mind-boggling to me that they would take this
once-prescription drug and release it to 15-year-old
Alveda King is worried about the safety of the morning-after
control made me sick, and I have friends who took birth
control pills and they got sick," said King, who has been
an outspoken critic of abortion.
itís not good, and physically itís not good. Itís a very
irresponsible decision to make this available to girls."
shouldnít worry about the pillís safety, said Dr. Melissa
Kottke, medical director of Emory Universityís Jane Fonda
Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health. She said it
contains some of the same medicine used in many traditional
methods of birth control.
people donít realize that sperm can live in the female
reproductive track an average of three days, but up to
pill wonít do, she said, is change a teenís behavior.
simply one of the tools that can be used to help decrease the
teen pregnancy rate "and I think everyone can agree thatís
something we all want," Kottke said.
it has declined from previous years, nearly half, or 47
percent, of all high school students reported ever having
sexual intercourse in 2011, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, the CDC also reports,
more than 329,000 babies were born to women ages 15 through
19. This is a record low for U.S. teens in this age group, and
a drop of 8 percent from 2010.
canít look at age," said Simpson of SisterSong.
"We see this as a victory, but we donít see it as a
solution. We do need to talk about comprehensive sex
education." Even so, "this sort of gives them the
idea that even if I mess up, I can take the morning-after
pill," said Victor Houston, the Conyers, Ga., father of a
that, he said, "this has nothing to do with preventing
STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), but in their minds, this
is OK." At the very least, some say, the debate over
emergency contraceptives opens the door for parents to have
more talks with their teens about sex.
that, parents and experts say, may not be such a bad thing.