“Teen pregnancies have declined over the past few decades, but the United States continues to see substantially higher teen birth rates compared to other developed countries.” So begins a press release announcing a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. You might assume that what follows is the endorsement of a policy proven to decrease teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. You would be wrong.
The AAP has endorsed, to the surprise of no one, the advance distribution of Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception to “all adolescents.” But the problem with this policy is that it doesn’t work. That is, as the AAP admits in its policy statement, there is no evidence, anywhere, of access to Plan B resulting in a decrease in teen pregnancy. It is important to note that this fact is not in dispute: No study claims to have shown that access to emergency contraception decreases teen pregnancy rates. So why would the AAP invoke the steadily declining (but still high!) U.S. teen-pregnancy rates as an excuse for its new policy recommendation?
According to the AAP, pediatricians should counsel “all adolescents” on emergency contraception “regardless of current intentions for sexual behavior.” So next time your “adolescent” daughter is at the doctor’s office for a common cold or a broken arm, the AAP hopes your family doctor will set the bone and then sit down for a heart to heart on what to do after your daughter has had unprotected sex. I find that creepy.
What if you are a doctor who thinks this is hogwash? The AAP doesn’t mince words for you and your ilk: “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.”
To be clear: The American Academy of Pediatrics avers that a physician has a moral obligation to refer a patient for an abortion, a “legally available treatment option.” Some of us believe that the very opposite is true. Fortunately, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts of the Obama administration’s minions at HHS and allies at the AAP, that conviction is protected by the First Amendment.
In summary, the American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed a policy universally found to be useless for the purported purpose, namely decreasing teen pregnancy, and has taken the opportunity to sternly remind physicians of conscience of their moral duties to the cult of sexualityism. If the AAP were primarily concerned with the well-being of adolescents, they might issue a policy statement in favor of sexual risk-avoidance education, which has been proven to delay sexual initiation, decrease the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use. Since they have not issued such a policy statement, it seems reasonable to wonder what the Academy’s primary concern is.
— Greg Pfundstein is the executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation.