To the editor:
A recent “Double Take” column (Dec. 10, 2012) encouraged parents to make Plan B contraception easily accessible to teens. However, federal law supported by Kathleen Sebelius requires prescriptions for those under 17.
The column misinforms readers about Plan B and fails to describe the side effects leading the American College of Pediatricians to advocate against its unprescribed use by young teens. The column asserts that Plan B does not induce abortion but prevents fertilization. In fact, Plan B also works after an egg has been fertilized by preventing implantation, resulting in the death of the genetically unique human embryo.
Plan B contains a steroid and a dose of synthetic hormone up to 15 times higher than oral contraceptives. Adverse side effects may include heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, allergic reactions, interactions with other drugs, including alcohol and nicotine, and possible dangerous complications with ectopic pregnancies. Long-term risks for cervical and breast cancer are yet unknown, thus the requirement of close supervision by a physician.
The columnists proclaim, “Doctors are obligated to present patients with the information required to make educated decisions about their health. That includes educating young women about emergency contraception.” Yet they themselves provide incomplete and misleading information and fail to alert readers to potential side effects and reasons for the prescription law. They suggest a way to get around the law and commend parents “who keep Plan B in their home with a no-questions-asked policy.” By providing only information which supports their opinions, they potentially lead their readers to make harmful decisions.