CREATED May. 1, 2013
PALM DESERT - The Food and Drug Administration lowers the age minimum to get emergency contraceptive "Plan B One-Step" to 15. Today, this morning-after pill is sold behind pharmacy counters to young adults 17 and older, but girls as young as 15 will be able to buy the drug without a prescription.
This has sparked some controversy in the Valley.
"I think it's terrible. They need to do something about it, raise the age to at least 18," says Zoyla Orlett.
Another resident says,"I think they really should allow it because some kids make mistakes early in life."
The medication's manufacturer says that if a woman takes the pill within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the medicine can reduce the chance of pregnancy by nearly 90 percent. Local women's health doctor from Eisenhower Medical Center, Allison Lindley, says that if a woman is already pregnant, the pill has no effect.
"The morning-after pill is different from the abortion pill, the morning-after pill will not stop a pregnancy that's already implanted," says Dr. Lindley.
The FDA also rules Plan B will be sold over-the-counter, something some parents find troubling.
"Kids at that age aren't responsible, they don't think. They make it too easy for them," says Orlett. But others think it should be up to the teen.
"If they're going to be having sex, might as well have the protection and all the tools to prevent pregnancy," says 19-year-old student Melanie Macias.
Teenagers will be required to show proper identification and prove they're at least 15 to buy the medication. Some doctors say they're worried about how teens get the drug.
"Now we're opening up to patients getting this medication without very much education. I'm sure pharmacists will do some education, but not the same education they would get in the office of a physician," shares Dr. Lindley.
She adds making teenagers aware of other things like sexually transmitted diseases is also important when talking about unprotected sex. The FDA said its ruling applies only to "Plan B One-Step" and not to generic versions of the pill. Those other pills will remain behind pharmacy counters for those 17 and older.