Reproductive Rights Should Be Protected

In recent news, the Obama administration has gone against the FDA’s suggestion to lift age restrictions on purchasing and using the Plan B pill. This new decision will affect young girls everywhere. What this means is that girls who are 16 and younger will be unable to purchase the Plan B emergency contraceptive without a prescription. It still stands that women and girls over the age of 17 can buy this without a prescription, but with proof of age.

For those who do not know, the Plan B pill is an emergency contraceptive that prevents an egg from being fertilized. It is most effective when taken within 72 hours after participating in unprotected sexual activity. It is an emergency contraceptive, therefore not intended to be used as a normal, reoccurring form of birth control. I don’t believe this topic is getting as much attention as it should be. Though republican presidential candidates seem to be playing a game of who is more anti-choice, there hasn’t been much coverage of how the public perceives this decision.

I live in the city of Fresno, and unfortunately it is too common to see a pregnant teenage girl.

When I first heard news of the Obama administration’s decision, I tried to picture how this would affect the girls in my city. At first sight it seems apparent that not many girls use this contraceptive, but how many more unintended pregnancies will happen because of this? This has made me think of possible reasons for so many teen pregnancies. Are sex education programs not working? Are less controversial methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies not accessible to these young women, and men? Is there a stigma behind using protection? I don’t have the answers to these questions because no one talks about this issue. It seems as if it has been swept under the rug, and has become a problem for teen girls to face on their own.

I recently started using birth control pills, not only as a contraceptive, but for another medical condition I have. I received them through Planned Parenthoods services (due to a lack of medical insurance) and I was relieved that they were free of charge. Without asking for it, I received two boxes (treatments) of the Plan B pill, along with condoms. I didn’t need them at all, but I was instructed how to use it, and if I needed more I could come back. That proved how easy it was for me to get it, but I now know that it won’t be as easy for a girl that actually needs it to get it. Maybe I am the only one to see a problem with this.

Many may argue that making the Plan B pill available to girls younger than 17 may promote promiscuity and may even be harmful to a young girl’s body, though the FDA has stated that it is safe for adolescents to use if directions are followed.

No one ever said that every girl has to and will take this pill every time they engage in sexual activity, but I believe that it is unfair to those who want to have better chances of preventing a pregnancy, but can’t. Girls that may have been raped or have been involved in other unwanted sexual activity should have the freedom to protect themselves after the fact. In some girls’ situations, going through parents and having to get a prescription can be embarrassing and even destroy some family relationships.

I just believe not enough people have talked about this among themselves, or their children. Not everyone has to agree with the use of the Plan B pill, but talk about the use of other contraceptives should be implemented. Parents, schools, and public programs should be more diligent with talking about the importance of protection and sexual health for our youth.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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