One thing I've noticed as the father of a girl is how pathologically fearful most fathers appear with regard to their daughter's sexuality. They want to hide it, defend it, squelch it. They wrongly center themselves as the guardians of something that does not belong to them, something they can only guide passively if at all.
It seems obvious to many of us, but some people still cling to the belief that they can control their child's sexual behavior. We can influence it, certainly, and we are all encouraged to do so, but the facts are that our daughters are having sex whether we like it or not, and all we can do is make sure they're taken care of properly.
Recently, Plan B was approved for...well, you can read the link. Basically, 17-year olds can get it now.
This is a good thing. Why?
According to the Guttmacher Institute:
•Most young people have sex for the first time at about age 17, but do not marry until their middle or late 20s. This means that young adults are at risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for nearly a decade.
•The proportion of teens who had ever had sex declined from 49% to 46% among females and from 55% to 46% among males between 1995 and 2002. [this is still around half]
•A sexually active teen who does not use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
•One in five teens whose parents do not know they obtain contraceptive services would continue to have sex but would either rely on withdrawal or not use any contraceptives if the law required that their parents be notified of their visit.
•Eighty-two percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned; they account for about one in five of all unintended pregnancies annually.
•Teen mothers are now more likely than in the past to complete high school or obtain a GED, but they are still less likely than women who delay childbearing to go on to college.
•The reasons teens give most frequently for having an abortion are concern about how having a baby would change their lives, inability to afford a baby now and feeling insufficiently mature to raise a child.
The points were cherry-picked to show that 1) our daughters are quite likely to have sex while still teenagers, 2) they are highly likely to become pregnant if not allowed access to some form of contraception, 3) if they are denied access they're likely to continue their activity unprotected, 4) teen mothers are, overall, less educated than their adult counterparts, and 5) they KNOW pregnancy at their age is a bad idea.
Even for those of us with good father-daughter relationships, our girls are not going to tell us everything. If it's hard for you to talk to her about sex, imagine how hard it is for her to do the same with you. Then imagine that she's gone and had sex despite all your carrying on about morality and responsibility and how likely does it become that she'll even consider asking you for help if she had unprotected sex or suspects she could be pregnant?
I'm going to guess that the chance is low.
The discrete availability of this pill to 17-year old girls won't help the STI front, but it may just save a few of them a lifetime of condemnation, lost opportunities, and unwanted children.