Thursday, April 23, 2009

For BC & EC, How Young Is Too Young?

Last month, I posted for Back Up Your Birth Control Day and mentioned that the courts wanted the FDA to consider lowering the age of prescription-less access to emergency contraception from 18 to 17. The FDA considered it, and they have agreed.

On last month's BC/EC post, Mächtige Maus and I started a discussion in the comments about how young is too young to have access to emergency contraception or birth control in general. In one of my comments, I brought up the issue of medication still being a drug. I wanted to elaborate on that a bit and stress the importance of testing and education about how birth control and EC affect women at different ages. If there is a big difference in the effects of these drugs in a 16-year-old versus an 18-year-old, then it stands to reason that more control should be placed on how the 16-year-old can access it. Does anybody know if this research is out there and, if so, what they've found?

Ultimately, it is hard to give an arbitrary age to something like this, especially given all the variables involved. Consider the fact that the average age of these occurrences are probably quite different:
  • menarche (the first period) - around 12
  • first instance of real sex education (not the abstinence-only kind) - this can vary tons depending on state and quality of education, but let's guess 13-15
  • first sexual experience - around 17
  • when society wishes the first sexual experience was - I'll just throw out 18-21
So what age are we supposed to go by? Do you folks have any thoughts?


Mächtige Maus said...

I was waiting patiently for your follow up post once I heard of the FDA decision. :)

When I get the time I may just have to try and track down if there are varied physiological responses to EC due to age. That is definitely a key point when it comes to this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog, but I'm liking what I've read so far.

This is a question I have been battling with myself for quite a while.

I feel like society often says to young people, is you're too young to know the consequences of your decisions. Though I feel a part of this is valid from my own life expeirence, I just can't help but feeling like this is a cop out to some extent.

When it comes to sex isn't the responsible thing to do, that we as adults advocate other adults to do, is use BC to avoid pregnancy and other barrier methods to avoid STDs. But when kids younger than 18 want to use those same methods to be responsible, we say no, not without your parents (I know I'm totally speaking broadly and generalizing).

I just feel exasperated for kids that are trying to be responsible and I'm tired of hearing about people just undercutting and writing them off like they don't exist - there are some out there I tell you!

Sorry for this mini-rant in your comment space, but I feel like its an important piece to this question.

frau sally benz said...

Anon., don't apologize! Your points are very valid.

I think the main problem is this idea that we are somehow corrupting children by making information and resources available to them. I can tell you that even when I was that age, I knew plenty of people who were having unprotected sex. I knew people who had abortions and STDs, all because they didn't know how to protect themselves.

It seems the problem has only gotten worse since then. So obviously, there's something wrong here.