FDA: Teens 15 and older can buy Plan B without prescription - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

FDA: Teens 15 and older can buy Plan B without prescription

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Anne Sweeney openly admits that she's used Plan B. She gives three reasons why she supports emergency contraception: her daughters, Elliot, Phoebe, and Olivia.

"It was a positive experience for me," Sweeney said. "It meant I was able to choose when I had the babies and that's an important thing as a woman. If you don't have control over your reproductive rights, what do you have control over?"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that Plan B One-Step, an emergency contraception pill, would be made available to teens as young as 15-years-old without a prescription.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it will appeal a federal judge's order to lift all age limits on who can buy Plan B One-Step without a prescription.

According to the Associated Press, in its appeal, the Justice Department is supporting President Obama's position that younger teens shouldn't have unfettered access to morning-after pills.

Lisa Call is a mother, too. She said when it comes to emergency contraception, age matters.

"Children are a part of a family with mothers and fathers that need to help them make those kinds of decision," said Call, who has two daughters. "They're not allowed to vote until they're 18, they're not allowed to drink until you're 21. You're going to get a 15-year-old to terminate a pregnancy that her parents don't even know about?"

Representatives from the group West Virginians for Life said they disapprove of the announcement. They issued this statement to 13 News:

"West Virginians for Life opposes the use of the drug known as Plan B, because it can function as an early abortifacient. Its abortifacient effect is based on powerful hormone-like actions, to which young teenagers should not be exposed. It is dangerous social policy to make this drug available to young teenagers without the consent and supervision of their parents."

Amanda Perkins, the president of the WVFL Putnam County chapter, said the organization fears the health risks that come with young girls taking the pill.

"We don't know the weight of the child, we don't know the age of the child, we don't know if they're going to obtain it and possibly give it to someone else, so it's really dangerous."

In December 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report that claims Plan B is safe for adolescent use.

Research shows between 20 and 25 percent of health care providers talk about emergency contraception with teens. Making the morning-after pill more available does not increase the frequency of unprotected sex among adolescents, according to the AAP report.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio, the executive director of WV Free, said she wishes teens of all ages could purchase Plan B, especially in a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the United States.

WV Free is a pro-choice nonprofit organization based in Charleston.  Pomponio said teens need more education about emergency contraception in general.

"We all hope that teens will delay risky behaviors, like having sex, but the fact is unfortunately, they don't always," Pomponio said.

Until Tuesday, teens had to be 17 to purchase Plan B over the counter.