Should all girls “of child bearing age” be able to walk into the corner pharmacy and buy Plan B without ID, age restrictions or parental supervision? I don’t think so!
However, my professional organization, the American Academy of Family Practice, issued a statement this week advocating for just that. Our online newsletter included my comments in an article published today:
On the other hand, family physician Beverly Nuckols, M.D., of New Braunfels, Texas, said she has issues with the Academy statement because it is inconsistent with its own Family Medicine, Scope and Philosophical Statement.
“Family physicians not only treat the patient within the context of her family, we also strive to treat the whole patient — ‘biological, behavioral (and) social,'” Nuckols said. “In this case, the ‘disease’ we are trying to prevent is the high-risk behavior of unprotected sex. Parental involvement is vital to the health of children and is the best prevention for high-risk behavior, including adolescent sexual activity.
“The AAFP normally and correctly advocates parental involvement and intervention to prevent other high-risk activity, such as driving without a license, the use of guns without adult supervision, smoking, or overeating, etc.,” she said. “What is the rationale for treating adolescent sexual activity any differently than we would treat other risky behavior or preventable risk factor?”
Nuckols, who serves as chair of the Christian Medical & Dental Association’s Family Medicine Section, said she also has concerns about OTC Plan B One-Step because there are few controlled, randomized studies that prove levonorgestrel to be medically safe and effective for adolescents at the dosage given.
“The published data on emergency contraception don’t break out the numbers of adolescent girls, but the numbers appear to be low,” she said. “The closest I’ve found are small studies for treatment of menstrual disorders and inherited bleeding disorders by chronic use of oral or intrauterine levonorgestrel, with the youngest age at 14.”
(BTW, The author quoted my written statement, exactly, so any errors are mine. I goofed in identifying myself to the author: Much to my relief, our CMDA Family Medicine Section elected a new Chair and I’m now the Past-Chair. I didn’t realize we had passed the turn-over date. Oh, and “data” really is plural, so “data … don’t” is not terrible grammar, just awkward.)