Lifestyle & Belief

American Academy of Pediatrics wants doctors to prescribe morning-after pills in advance

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The U.S. Affordable Health Care Act passed a reform requiring all emergency contraception and birth control pills to be free of co-payments or other deductibles as of August 1, 2011. This is considered a major breakthrough in women's healthcare, but it has faced opposition from religious groups that say these preventatives make pregnancy seem like a disease.

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Kevork Djansezian

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended today that doctors give girls under 17 advance prescriptions for emergency contraception, Reuters reported.

"Adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it has been prescribed in advance of need," the academy's Committee on Adolescence said in a statement published online in the journal Pediatrics, CBS News reported.

More from GlobalPost: New York public schools give students access to emergency contraception, birth control pills

In Dec. 2011, the Food and Drug Admin. approved over-the-counter sales of so-called morning-after pills like Plan B with no age limits, according to Reuters. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius changed the ruling to require that girls under 17 have a prescription to obtain the medication.

Emergency contraception works best if used in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, missed birth control pills or condom breakage, though it can be used up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, CBS News reported.

According to Reuters:

A 2010 analysis of seven randomized studies of emergency contraception found that having a morning-after prescription in hand did not increase teens' sexual activity or decrease use of standard contraceptives but did increase use of the pill and shorten the time before a teenager used it after sex.

"It's just common sense that requiring a prescription is a barrier," said Bill Alpert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Reuters. "If an august and respected medical group like AAP is suggesting providing emergency contraception to minors is OK, that is a big deal."

Last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it supports making birth control pills available to all without a prescription, CBS News reported.

More from GlobalPost: UN: Contraception access a 'universal human right'