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More Teens Are Reaching for the Morning After Pill

The Short of It

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 1 in 5 sexually active teenage girls have used the morning after pill, which is a steady increase in usage compared to just 10 years ago, when 1 in 12 girls admitted to using the emergency contraception.

The Lowdown

The official reason girls are turning to the pill more often is unknown, but the convenience of getting it at a drugstore without a prescription probably plays into its popularity.

"Teens, like adults, often are not very good at contraception," Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told the Associated Press. "In the battle between sex and sex with contraception, sex often wins.

The morning after pill contains a high dose of the female hormone progestin, and when it's taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, 90 percent of pregnancies are eliminated. Since 2006, adults 18 and older have been able to buy it over the counter, but the age restrictions were removed two years ago.

The study, which questioned 2,000 teens, ages 15 to 19, also looked at usage of other forms of contraception among adolescents. Condom and birth control pill use has changed very little over the past decade, and condoms still remain the most popular form of contraception.

The good news is the overall teen sex rate steadily declined between the late 1980s and the early 2000s. There's also been a noticeable decrease in teen pregnancies since 1991.

The Upshot

I have a problem with the morning after pill being referred to as contraception. Since it's taken after unprotected sex and it has the potential to eliminate a pregnancy, shouldn't it be called an abortion drug? Depending on what state you live in, parental consent is required for teens younger than 18 to get an abortion at a medical clinic. How is taking this pill any different?

How do you feel about teenage girls using the morning after pill as a form of contraception?

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