A prominent doctors' group recommends teens get emergency contraception before they're pregnant. It's a practice that's already occurring in 13 New York schools and some Wisconsin health clinics.
A policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics says teens too young to get emergency contraception over-the-counter, should get prescriptions before they need it, as a way of reducing unintended pregnancies. Dr. Wendy Ehrman works at the Adolescent Health Program in Milwaukee, which is affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin. She says emergency contraception is safe and this is a practical way for teens to get it, "I mean think about it: if you are like a 14 or 15 year old are you going to be comfortable going up to a pharmacist and getting your prescription filled? Fourteen and 15 year olds act on the moment. There's not always a lot of thought ahead of time. So when they need to get emergency contraception in order for it to be effective it has to be pretty soon after the act of unprotected sex"
The Adolescent Health Program does prescribe emergency contraception before it's needed. So does the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association in Wausau. Executive Director Lon Newman says the practice recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics will be seen as controversial by some, "I mean there's a risk but of course the risk is a political one. Everybody used to united behind preventing teen pregnancy and now, for the last few years, that seems to involve a risk."
The latest figures for Wisconsin's teen birth rate show it dropping to an all-time low in 2010 (26 teen births per 1000 females); but less than a decade ago, Milwaukee's teen birth rate was second highest in the nation.