Teen Girls Can Suck It: No Morning-After Pill Without Doc’s Consent

And here we go again with politicians getting all up into our ovaries. This time, the Obama administration made a surprising move to shut down the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation that the morning-after pill be made available over the counter without age restrictions—a decision that forces teens to get a doctor’s prescription before they try to stop unwanted pregnancies.

Even though FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said yesterday that scientific data shows “there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the decision, saying that adolescent girls may not be mature enough to understand how to use the morning-after pill, which, when taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, is almost 90 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.

So, just so we’re clear: a 15-year-old who had unprotected sex and knows that she doesn’t want to be a mom is too immature to follow the directions on the box, but mature enough to birth and raise a baby?

Long. Blank. Stare.

So it’s crystal: I’m anti-teen sex. The last thing I’m advocating is that we send out personal invitations to kids to have sex—protected or otherwise—and let them handle the consequences and repercussions of those specific actions—STDs, unwanted pregnancy, abortion—on their own. In my fantasy world full of perfection, unicorns, mermaids and unlimited supplies of half-naked Idris Elbas slathered in chocolate-flavored glitter, human beings do not have sex until they’ve stood in front of God, the preacher and their mama and daddy andnem and said, “I do, forever and ever Amen.”

Alas, I live on this here planet. Where teenagers are getting it in. Whether we parents approve or not. Whether they can get down to the CVS to get condoms or not. Whether the clinic gives them birth control pills or not. Whether they have access to and the money for reproductive health and abortion services or not. Whether they have the superhuman ability and cold, hard cash to take care of a baby or not.

So my God, why do we keep throwing up roadblocks to services and medication that help female humans of childbearing age protect their bodies and plan when they want to become parents?

I’m sure the Obama administration has its reasons for blocking a science-based decision made by the very department charged with making them. I’d begin with the idea that the last thing the president wants to do is give conservatives the ammunition they need to launch an all-out anti-abortion assault on the upcoming 2012 presidential elections—a raucous debate sure to distract from the most pressing issues at hand: the crappy economy, soaring unemployment rates, Wall St. crooks and cronies, and Newt Gingrich’s assault on the poor.

I just hate that by taking away teen girls’ ability to get the morning-after pill when they need it—without a costly, hard-to-secure appointment at the doctor to get it in time enough for it to actually be effective—teen girls have become political roadkill. Yet again.


1. {Let’s Talk About Sex} Tweens, Sex & the Essence Article That Scared the Crap Out Of Me
2. How An Unplanned Pregnancy Changed The Way I Want To Talk To My Kids About Sex
3. Free Contraception And PreNatal Care: A Victory For Women’s Reproductive Health
4. Black Women Speak Up! Tell Congress To Stay Out Of Our Wombs
5. Newt Gingrich To Poor Black Mothers and Children: Pick Up A Broom, Lazy Asses

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Such a sensitive topic… I fear for those who use the morning after pill as birth control. I knew a girlfriend in college who took it. She was sick, vomiting in the shower for days. Confirmed for me that abstinence before marriage was the choice for me.

  2. I personally agree with this decision. I can just see girls having unprotected sex with the notion that they can take this pill on a regular basis without getting pregnant. Knowing that kids are going to have sex, to me, is not a good enough reason to justify letting them get the Plan B on their own.

  3. i think it was a good decision and i totally agree with nicole’s comment. in fact, i can just imagine girls using this as a plan a and totally skipping contraception altogether. and who knows what type of affect this could have a female’s body if it’s used regularly.

    • Did you know that this pill costs 50 dollars a pop? What teenager has enough money to spend that much every day, or every other day? Condoms are much cheaper. This is obviously for those times when something goes wrong or the super unexpected happens. And your comment that they would use this as a Plan A actually makes zero sense as an argument, let me explain why:

      If they wanted a pill that would take care of pregnancy every time, and are having sex often enough to make this a problem health wise, THEY WOULD USE BIRTH CONTROL. WHICH IS OFTEN CHEAPER PER MONTH THAN JUST ONE OF THESE PILLS.

      ” I can just see girls having unprotected sex with the notion that they can take this pill on a regular basis without getting pregnant. ”


      And I just can’t even handle explaining this to all of you any more if you choose to assume a girl is so stupid she cannot figure out how to use a pill, but mature enough to raise a child. Because good luck getting that doctor’s note in time to prevent a pregnancy. Good luck getting over your fear of telling someone in time to prevent a pregnancy. Also 21 and I shouldn’t have to put up with getting moralistic rants and shitty treatment from the bitches behind the counter when I make informed decisions about my health, thank you very much.

      • But not all will make informed decisions. What someone else said about the morning after pill making someone sick is accurate. I know a woman who took two within two weeks and she was really sick. I realise that the pills are expensive enough to discourage overuse, but if taking it once can make you sick, then maybe it’s a good idea for a doctor to explain the symptoms that should bring the girl/woman back to be seen again.

        It might also, if it’s a teen, give them a chance to ask if she wants a prescription for birth control. Personally I don’t understand why any teenage girl who has even the least chance of becoming sexually active doesn’t have the Implanon implant. It costs about $20 (in Australia, anyway) which is much less than birth control pills and is inserted by the doctor in her office. And it lasts for THREE YEARS! Three years contraceptive for less than ONE morning after pill.

        • Hi, I’m Lauren.

          I’m 18 and I’ve taken the pill once when I was 17. I used a condom and it broke so it was indeed my plan b. Speaking for girls who aren’t married and don’t want to have children but do have sex, I think that making the morning after pill harder to get is an absolutely idiotic idea. Most girls, if they are like myself are wouldn’t go ask for a prescription because they would probably feel ashamed. Not to mention the pill itself is more money than most high school students have but then you also have to pay for the doctors visit and pray that you get the pill within 72 hours. Sounds like a big mess to me and if I would have had to go through that chances are, I wouldn’t have gotten the pill. If you read the instructions, it says not to use it as a main form of birth control.

          In my opinion, the government should be more worried about the kids that aren’t being fed in this country then they are about preventing girls from getting a form of birth control. I wasn’t ready to have a baby, I’m still not ready to have a baby so if I needed to take it again, I would. I’m not promoting having sex before you’re ready to have children, I’m just saying that it happens & that you aren’t going to be able to stop that. But there are already enough children in this world who deserve the attention that they aren’t getting and if you can avoid there being more of those children you should.

          All you people saying that they should do this, put yourself in my shoes, or your 17 year old self’s shoes, or your young daughters shoes. Stop being so narrow minded and really think about the issue.

  4. Jacqueline Lewis

    I’m so glad that someone stood up and said NO. If it’s so easy when will these young ladies have time to think about what they’re doing. They should not be giving morning after pills to girls as they continue to have unprotective sex. Really studies have shown that this pill isn’t that safe, no telling what this is doing to there bodies long-term. Just because it’s FDA approved now doesn’t mean it’s safe for our young ladies.

    • Actually now it being FDA approved does mean exactly that. It means that people will far more research and education than you backing them up have decided it’s safe for our children, and seeing the backlash from their decision you should assume they were DAMN sure it was safe before they said it.

  5. Yes. I agree with this decision too. I have a teenaged girl who puts off all kinds of important stuff just because she’s a teenaged girl. I don’t think she’s having sex, I don’t know where she’d be doing it (maybe in Chemistry class). However if she is, condoms are the way to go. Not unmonitored use of a morning after pill. Allowing this pill to go in the hands of kids without an adult knowing is just another thing for them to muck up. AIDS & STDs will soar. And, And, I will be having a convo with my daughter today to reiterate how we feel about her having sex and the use of condoms.

    • Brooke—THIS: “And, I will be having a convo with my daughter today to reiterate how we feel about her having sex and the use of condoms.”

      This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. We need to do better about having honest, intelligent, candid, thoughtful, helpful conversations with our kids about sex BEFORE they get to the point where they’re standing in the CVS, trying to get a pill to stop an unwanted pregnancy from happening. We STAY trying to say what our kids shouldn’t be doing, but clearly, not enough of us are talking to our kids about sex beyond, “don’t do it or you’ll get a disease,” and “don’t bring no babies into this house.”

      This post makes clear where I stand on the issue so I won’t argue or defend my point. What I will say is that I hope every parent in this comment section who thinks it’s okay to strip 16-year-old girls of their right to decide whether they want to be mothers or not is having those conversations.

      • I had my convo with her. Really we keep and open dialogue about these things, so it was just another checking in type of thing. She is 15 now and allowed to date, but her response to me when I checked in was that she’s not worried about that stuff right now. She’s trying to keep her head above water in these AP classes.

        FYI – I don’t want to strip my child of her right to decide whether she will be a teen parent. She won’t be–stripped already. I do want to strip her of another chance to sneak around doing things that I don’t know about.

  6. I think it’s GREAT that the Obama Administration vetoed this! I’ve worked in the family planning field for alost 10 years now and I’ve seen first hand how yes there are teens who use it for emergency, there are TONS that use it as a means of birth control. Look at the rates of Chlamydia amongst young women of color!! Its alarming! There’s not that many “broken condoms” in the world! Many young people are NOT using protection at all sad to say.

  7. Ok, so that pill keeps them from having the baby…but what about the sexually transmitted disease or AIDS they might contract along the way. It all points to the more we teach our daughters about abstinence and safe sex..but ABSTINENCE…is the way to go. We HAVE TO DO THIS as parents. WE HAVE TO.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      I absolutely co-sign everything you’re saying, Angie—I promise you. Abstinence, REAL talk and communication on all facets of sex, from how to protect yourself to how to speak up when you don’t want to do it to how the best way to stay out of all the trouble associated with it is to NOT do it—all of this should be on every parent’s agenda. But making it more difficult to get an emergency pill meant to stop the chance of pregnancy isn’t going to stop kids from having sex if they want to or convince them to protect themselves. The only thing it does is remove yet another way for girls (and women!) to plan their parenthood. Make no mistake about it: this is a piecemeal dismantling of women’s reproductive rights.

  8. Rape and incest. That’s all I will say. Many young girls have been and continue to be the victim of rape. There assailants are more often than not someone who already knows them and has the power to threaten to harm them further if they tell anyone, including their parents. Girls of child-bearing age need to be in control their reproductive heath for this very reason if nothing else.

  9. I don’t think the issue here is about whether or not the morning after pill is ‘healthy’, or that we should be teaching our children to not have sex before marriage- the issue here is that access to a very useful form of birth control is being denied. In an ideal world, there would be no need for the pill in question, but restricting its access isn’t solving any problems.
    You can preach all you want about abstinence before marriage, but the fact is that many young women do not follow that philosophy. If something does happen to go wrong – (e.g. a broken condom) – it should not require a visit to a doctor to get what should be freely available over the counter.

  10. Lol, saying girls will use it as birth control is utter bullshit. Here in Australia you can get the morning after pill over the counter, I have lots of sexually active friends and am 17, I’ve heard of nobody using it as birth control, it is a back up action to take if for whatever reason judgement is clouded, or their ability to consent may be taken away from them -ok they should report rape, but it won’t neccessarily happen especially if it involves inebriation. What everyone assumes and wrongly so, is that teens have a.) no morals and b.) are lazy, slutty and dumb. These are all pathetic assumptions made by the children of the baby boomer generation, who raised these same teens we speak of here. No girl wants to go buy the morning after pill it’s costly, may not work and socially terrifying, they don’t want STI’s they want to stay healthy and pregnancy free. WE ARE NOT LAZY, WE ARE NOT SLUTTY, AND WE ARE NOT FREE FROM MORALS.

    • Thank you!
      Reading through the comments made me feel insulted that so many people doubt young peoples ability to think clearly.
      Living in Canada where the morning after pill IS available over the counter I can say from personal experience that it is a helpful thing to have. At 21 (im 22 now) I had the unfortunate experience of having a condom break…for anybody whose been there you know its stressfull and all you start to think about is what your going to do if you become pregnant and how will you finish school. Luckily I was able to get to a drugstore within the hour and take the pill. If i had to go to a doctor to get it I honestly dont know what I would have done. It was a weekend so I couldnt go to my normal doctor, I would have had to lie to my mom about where I was going and hightail my butt to a walk in clinic the next day, THEN go to a pharmacy to fill the perscription. As it was, due to the cost of the pill I was able to share the cost of it with my partner cause it was BOTH of our responsibilities and we as young adults are knowledgable enough to know this.
      Which brings me back to my main point that most teens and young adults are informed and educated enough to know the appropriate way to use the morning after pill (and if we arn’t educated enough, whose to blame for that one?) . I say most because of course there will always be the extreme cases of teens who take it every time they have sex and abuse it (though frankly if they have access to that much money, i think the parents need to perhaps reevaluate their parenting skills), there are extreme cases in every situation. Some adults overdose on tylenol or cold medecine…is that to say that you should have to go to the doctor to get medication that the majority of people know how to appropriatly use and not abuse?
      I understand the fear of giving teens access to this pill, I think it stems from people perhaps only hearing of the negative incidences where a teen abused it or somebody got sick from taking it too often. I would like to remind people that your only going to hear of the most extreme cases and that those cases are the minority….because its just not interesting to hear that an 16 year old girl had a contraception failure so she took plan B and didnt become pregnant. I would also like to point out that its not only teens and young adults that will suffer from the pill not being easily accessable, adults can and do also take this pill.
      As the older generation I beleive its your responsibility to first make sure your daughters are educated not only about abstinence (though well intended, its unrealistic/unimportant for many but if thats what you believe in so be it) but also about contraceptives, healthy sexual relationships, the risks involved with sex (without making it sound like a horror film….this will only either peak curiosity or create a misinformed person because STI’s though are no joke, its also not the end of the world). Education is the foundation from which responsible decisions are made, its key that this step is NOT missed. But you also have to KNOW your daughters, trust that we we smart enough to know that though we do want sexual relationtionships, we do not want babies. And allow us the access to follow through with decisions about our own bodies. There is going to come a day when it is our generation thats making the decisions for yours, lets hope that when that day comes we don’t do to you what you are doing to us.

      Sorry for the long reply…sexual health is a topic near and dear to my heart

  11. I believe, 100%, that the lack of responsible parenting is the reason for so many teen pregnancies.

    This is a coin with a definite two sides. I can argue both sides but lets face it. Teens are going to continue to be irresponsible and not THINK before having sex. No matter how many teens say “we’re not this, this and that” well…they can rant and rave all they want.

  12. A lot of these comments seem to be coming from people who have no idea what EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION is. It’s for emergencies. Yes, it can make you sick. But the “sick” is basically nausea and *maybe* vomiting. And that’s still better than vomiting caused by morning sickness, right?? The directions are very simple. You don’t have to assume that teen girls are idiots who can’t read. Besides, if they buy it from a pharmacy the pharmacist can give them the basic warnings. Abstinence is a great thing for those not ready for the responsibilities of have sex. However, to assume that if you don’t give people the tools to protect themselves they will then decide on abstinence is foolish. Hope for the best but assume that people are human and fallible. Give them the ability to protect themselves. Your personal moral choice or discomfort with sexuality shouldn’t be used to punish other people.

  13. For some reason many people think that taking away birth control will magically get teenagers to stop having sex so let me just state the obvious; TEENS GENERALLY WILL NOT STOP HAVING SEX. There will be the few who abstain but the vast majority will continuing regardless of birth control. Rather than making birth control unavailable to young women and teaching strictly abstinence (like they did at my school) society should educate youth about different types of protection and birth control such as condoms. Several people have commented that many teenage women use the morning-after-pill as regular birth control which I think is extremely exaggerated. Of the dozens and dozens of sexually active teenagers I know absolutely none use that pill as regular birth control. They’re either using prescribed birth control, condoms, or not using any protection or birth control at all (unless you count the “pull out” method).

  14. This is a tricky topic. I believe teens should not be having sex. Period.

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