Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will clear the way for Plan B’s manufacturers’ to make the “morning-after pill” available without a prescription to 17-year-olds. The announcement follows a March 23 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York that the agency’s initial decision was based on politics and ideology rather than science.
Though it is not as big of a problem in the US, tens of thousands of young women die every year in developing countries from complications during teen pregnancy. In fact, around the world, some 14 million adolescent girls (15-19) give birth. The highest rates of adolescent fertility are found in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and complications of pregnancy are the leading cause of death among women aged 15-19 in the developing world.
Not to mention that when teens in these countries get married or pregnant, many of those girls are forced to leave school and abandon their education. It’s for this reason that we need to champion access to family planning in whatever forms available. If we can prevent unwanted pregnancies, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of maternal deaths worldwide, and prevent the deaths of young women.