East Texans react to the FDA's new age requirement for Plan B

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration lowered the age to purchase Plan B, which is manufactured by Teva Woman's Health, and will now allow girls as young as 15 years old to purchase the pill over-the-counter.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal over a federal judge's ruling that directed the FDA to make morning-after pills available to all ages without a prescription.

In April, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make morning-after pills available to any age without a prescription. The FDA said in a statement that Tuesday's decision for the Plan B age requirement was not related to Judge Korman's order.

Under current federal law, you must be 17 years old with a prescription from a doctor to purchase Plan B.

The FDA age restriction only affects Plan B and all generic forms of the morning-after pill must be purchased at the pharmacist counter with a prescription.

Those people who buy the generic form of the oral contraceptive will have to adhere to the age-17 restriction.

But many East Texans say they are upset with the FDA's decision.

"It's wrong in every way and these girls are having this false notion that this is going to keep them from getting pregnant," said Deanna Still, the executive director for the Heartbeat Pregnancy Center in Nacogdoches.

The new age requirement means teens can now purchase Plan B without a medical prescription, and parental consent. They will only have to present a driver's license, birth certificate or passport at the time of the purchase to obtain the oral contraceptive.

"I don't think you should be able to purchase the pill in general. I don't think it should be available to anybody. But if you was, you need to be an adult, that way you know what you are getting yourself into," Alison Green, a mom of two, said.

This new age requirement will allow Plan B to be easily accessed on the contraceptive aisle right next to the condom's and spermicide's.

"A 15-year-old is not a woman. A 15-year-old can't even get an aspirin at the school or carry Advil in her purse without a letter from the doctor or permission from her mother," Still said.

Green says the age requirement is a nightmare for parents who are already scared their kids might be having sex behind their backs.

"It's telling them well, I'm grown, you know? I can have sex and if it happens I can just go buy this pill and my mother never has to know about it," Green said.

Green was only sixteen years old when she got pregnant with her first child. She says her mom taught her about prevention from an early age, but she didn't listen.

"I made my own choices; I don't. I mean, I made my choices and I lay in my own bed. If you're old enough to have sex, you're old enough to pay for your consequences," Green said.

Deanna Still says one of the eight women who take Plan B don't realize that they are already pregnant.

"Most of them think that if they have had unprotected sex they'll go and get that Plan B and that's going to keep them from getting pregnant. And they go with this false premise that if I take this within a certain length of time that I won't get pregnant," Still said.

She also says her biggest concern is the fact that most girls don't understand that Plan B does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

"We see 15 year olds in here who don't even understand about getting pregnant. It may keep her from not getting pregnant, but it's not going to keep her from getting HIV, herpes, or any other STD. They go in there not even thinking. We see a lot of girls that come into the center worried about getting pregnant, but never worried about getting an STD," Still said.

Joshlyn Wallace, a college student at Stephen F. Austin University, says she is for Plan B because it is a good back up if taken correctly. The pill is meant to be taken within 72 hours of the unprotected sex and Teva says the pill cuts the chances of pregnancy down by 89 percent.

"I think it's the fear that it's telling 15 year olds that it's OK to have sex, which isn't necessarily the case because if you are teaching your kid at home 'I'd rather you wait until you're a certain age, or you're old enough and you're comfortable' then you're telling them as an authority figure your opinion that they are probably going to listen to more than 'oh, it's ok to have sex since this is on the market,'" Wallace said.

She says the idea that the morning-after pill is the abortion pill is a misconception because in most cases the egg has not been fertilized yet.

"I'm mostly for it because I think a lot of the media is very sexualized and there tends to be a disconnect between parents and teenagers these days about talking to their children about having sex and so it's just a good back up option," Wallace said.

But many other women say parents need to educate their children about Plan B, birth control, and other prevention methods.

"Research everything that you put in your body no matter whatever it is and especially this kind of pill and don't just assume that it's going to prevent you from getting pregnant," Still said.

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