The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement recommending that pediatricians counsel their adolescent patients on the use of “emergency contraception,” and provide advance prescriptions for drugs such as Plan B and Plan B One-Step.
Unfortunately, the new AAP policy contains a major flaw: it urges that pediatricians insert themselves into the relationships between adolescents and their parents.
The new AAP policy recommends the following to its member pediatricians:
All adolescents, males and females, and families of disabled adolescents should be counseled on emergency contraception as part of routine anticipatory guidance in the context of a discussion on sexual safety and family planning regardless of current intentions for sexual behavior.
Imagine that a 14 year-old sees his or her pediatrician once per year for the annual physical. This is not unusual if the teen is relatively healthy, except for the occasional cold or cough, which might even be handled by a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. According to the AAP, a pediatrician should feel comfortable counseling this 14 year-old, that he or she has not seen since last year, about the importance of emergency contraception. This counseling takes place without involving the teen’s parents in the discussion, and without any real knowledge of the type of life that teen lives.
This recommendation is particularly disturbing when we consider research, reported by the Heritage Foundation, that indicates adolescent girls and boys in intact families are less likely than peers in single-parent or step-parent families to be sexually experienced or to have been sexually active within the preceding three months or year.
In other words, when parents are involved in their kids’ lives, and know what they’re thinking and how they’re behaving, adolescents are less likely to engage in sexual activity. It seems arrogant for the AAP to advance a one-size-fits-all recommendation that excludes an interview with parents to help the pediatrician decide whether this 14 year-old is at risk for needing advice about emergency contraception drugs. The rather “unscientific” approach of the AAP appears to be: act now, evaluate later, if at all.
What is also disturbing about the AAP’s new policy is that the organization has decided that it should come between pediatricians and their consciences. Just in case your teen’s pediatrician is pro-life, or believes parents should be consulted first in the area of counseling on sexual matters, the AAP thinks it knows the “right” way to act:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement on refusal to provide information or treatment on the basis of conscience. According to the policy, pediatricians have a duty to inform their patients about relevant, legally available treatment options to which they object and have a moral obligation to refer patients to other physicians who will provide and educate about those services. Failure to inform/educate about availability and access to emergency-contraception services violates this duty to their adolescent and young adult patients.
Organizations like the AAP are essentially lobbying groups for their members, but often present themselves as the standard bearers for truth in their particular professions. Some of these organizations have become just another arm of liberalism, using their professional “clout” as a means to advance a political and cultural agenda.
It is not surprising that, with another four years ahead of an Obama administration that thrives on overreach into the private lives of its citizens, organizations like the AAP feel empowered to do the same.