The American Academy of Pediatrics’ updated policy on teen pregnancy prevention makes no sense. The recommendations urging young girls to go on birth control with hormonal implants or IUDs call into question the supporting technical report co-authored by Gina Sucato, a member of Physicians for Choice. Much of the data in the report is supported by citations from The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion and contraception advocacy organization that was founded by Planned Parenthood. This change in AAP policy, which is a departure from recommending condoms or abstinence, should be challenged since there isn’t any new scientific research to imply these heavy-hitting, long-acting contraceptives are safer for adolescents. One has to wonder if this change is a result of pressure from outside interests that with profit financially from expanded coverage of these methods under the Affordable Care Act.
Parents need to remember that their adolescent daughters do not have a full sense of responsibility due to their age and development. They are not thinking about the long-term devastating effects of hormonal contraception. They are not thinking about the increased risk of breast cancer, highly abnormal vaginal bleeding, weight gain, liver disease, acne, nausea and increased risk of STIs (including HIV, from which even condoms can’t protect). Further, when young women who are overweight use hormonal contraceptives, they produce so much estrogen from their fat cells that the ‘protection’ supposedly offered by these methods is practically nullified, which results in pregnancy.
The bottom line is that our daughters are being encouraged – by those who are supposed to have their best health outcomes as a goal – to alter their natural and healthy fertility with hormonal contraceptives that often have dangerous consequences and encourage risky behavior. The outcome is unpredictable – a gamble, really. Young women should be encouraged to learn how their bodies work with natural fertility awareness, and to value themselves enough not to give in to peer pressure to have sex before they are ready – ready for marriage.