Should doctors pre-prescribe the morning-after pill for teens?

A new report published Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests that pediatricians pre-prescribe "morning-after pills" to teen girls so they'll have them handy should the need to use them arise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics writes that while teen pregnancy in the country has declined over the past two decades, it is still higher than in other industrialized nations. Having the morning-after pill on hand could help reduce this further, since 80 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended, they write.

In the US at least, emergency birth control is available without a prescription for girls 17 and older. Girls 16 and younger need a prescription. The pills are sold as Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, or Next Choice One Dose.

Although multiple studies have shown that morning-after pills don't increase risky sexual behavior, Dr. Cora Bruener, a professor at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington, and her colleagues write that some doctors refuse to prescribe emergency birth control to teens, based on their own personal values. They add that these doctors have a duty to keep their young patients routinely informed of their birth control options.

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