JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Wednesday states more than 1 in 5 sexually active teen girls have used the morning-after pill.
Local doctors credit the dramatic increase to age limit restrictions being lifted 2 years ago.
"We assumed in the health care industry that this would happen once it became available over the counter and no prescriptions were required," said Dr. Shane Speights with St. Bernards Medical Center. "Since this is a pill that's taken within 48 hours of intercourse, it would be difficult for a teenager to obtain an office visit with a physician, see their physician, get a prescription, get the medication within that time period. Now that process no longer exists."
The emergency contraception pill typically costs $35 to $50 and contains a higher dose of a female hormone than regular birth control pills.
According to the report, Plan B can cut the chances of pregnancy by nearly 90 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
"I don't see this having a significant impact on the decision or ability to have children later in life," said Speights.
Dr. Speights said doctors' concerns lie elsewhere.
"We've got higher teen pregnancy rates than the rest of the state," he said. "So it's important, especially for our teens in northeast Arkansas, to take heed to any of these changes to contraception. Remember, Plan B doesn't protect you from HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia. And there's still a fail chance. There's still a chance that it will fail."
"To me, Plan B is very scary because you're messing with the chemistry of your body and you're not even sure if you were pregnant or could become pregnant," said Joanna Kelso, a Jonesboro mother of three. "Anything that's messing with the chemistry of your body needs to be under strong medical advice and a teenager is not going to be prepared to make that decision."
Dr. Speights and Kelso agree abstinence is the best defense against teen pregnancy.
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