Safe Medicine? More, Younger Girls Starting On Birth Control


Weighing Medical Risks Against Pregnancy

"That's all I think about 24 hours a day," Fatemi said of balancing medical concerns for her 13-year-old daughter, Daria, with worries for her future. "That she will be everything she wants to be without interference of pregnancy or babies or anything."

"Good Morning America" posed the hot topic question faced by Fatemi and so many other moms to a panel of six mothers of teenage girls in the greater New York area. Some mothers have children on the pill; some do not.

All agreed it is a complicated matter.

"I would much rather have her on birth control if I even felt that she might be sexually active or soon," Alicia Penny said. "I would put her on birth control immediately rather than have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy."

While the majority of moms on the panel agreed with Penny that it is okay for teenagers like their own daughters to be on birth control, all agreed it is, without doubt, a complicated matter.

"It's hard for me because I have a value system that we've tried to promote abstinence," said Esther Goetz, the mother of a teenage girl. "I'm kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum if I knew they were sexually active."

As for the issue of whether putting their daughters on the pill would seem to place the girls under increased pressure to have sex, or give them unspoken permission to be sexually active --an argument frequently raised by birth control opponents--the moms acknowledged girls on the pill may be more likely to say 'yes' to sex.

"The answer is probably," Helen Jonsen said of whether teen girls may feel more pressure to say yes to sex if their boyfriends know they are taking birth control. Jonsen says she has daughters who are currently on the pill.

Still, Jonsen was like other moms on the panels whose daughters are currently on the pill, who said they treat the pill just like any other medication or daily personal habit.

Jonsen says she lays the pills out for her daughters, alongside their vitamins in the morning.

"It would be like 'Did you brush your teeth before you left the house?'" mom Ofelia Almedina told "GMA." "Did you brush your teeth before bed, did you take your pill?"

The teenage girls we spoke with, a panel of six 14- to 19-year-olds also in the New York area, agreed that the use of birth control today among their friends is more frequent than rare, driven largely by the fear of getting pregnant.

"Definitely," one teen replied when asked if pregnancy is a top fear among her friends. "I think being pregnant, first of all, and then not having the person that got you pregnant to be by your side and supporting you."

The teens said the pressure to not get pregnant is just one more responsibility they have come to accept, along with the responsibility to not catch a sexually transmitted disease.

"I think most teenagers know that you need to use a condom if you want to prevent any STDs," said one.

"I know a few girls who sometimes they don't tell their boyfriends that they're on the pill just so that they'll use a condom with it," said another.

Even with the growing acceptance among moms of teens using birth control, the teens themselves still want the decision to remain their own.

"I think it's a good thing if the girl's parents are part of the decision to go on the pill," said one. "But I don't think the girl should be put on the pill. I think she should have a say in the matter."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

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