Teen Pregnancy And Plan B In NM

May 6, 2013

With the FDA approving the Plan B drug for teens 15 and older without a prescription, some teens will see a change, while others will not.

Ruth Romo gets ready for her busy day at Full Circle Health Center. She’s on a mission.

“A lot of teens just get all these mixed messages and all these misinformation about things,” said Romo, a Family Nurse Practitioner at Full Circle Health Center.

When she’s here at the clinic, you can bet she’ll be doing one thing--

“Teaching teens about birth control.”

But the health center is for more than that. Gabriella Flynn graduates in a week from Las Cruces High School. She stopped in to see Ruth.

“A while ago, I hurt my knee running…he made me go see the athletic trainer, which I didn’t know was a thing and she just worked it out,” said Flynn.

She’s also there to stay up to date on monthly birth control – a class of drugs getting a lot of attention lately.

The FDA approved sale of one in particular - Plan B – also known as the morning after pill – to teens 15 and over instead of 17 and over.

It’s meant to prevent ovulation in the three-day window before an egg is usually fertilized.

President Obama says it was the decision of the FDA and the Secretary Of Health And Human Services.

We reached out to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. They tell us they are pleased with the decision, but still want all restrictions on the drug lifted.

Their statement – in part – says, “While there are still practical questions to resolve, this is an important step forward to expand access to emergency contraception…”

One practical question parents may be asking is, how does a 15-year-old prove they are 15?

In New Mexico, young drivers receive a permit six months before their 16th birthday, so it really only means a difference of six months.

In those six months, a passport or birth certificate can be used.

For students who go to a high school with a school-based health center, the changes may not matter at all.

Shannon Rodriguez is a clinical nurse specialist at the privately owned health center inside Las Cruces High.

“They’re experimenting and they get all their information from their friends,” said Rodriguez.

Students can receive free condoms as well as prescriptions for the plan b pill, if necessary – a prescription Rodriguez likes to keep an eye on.

“We like to provide all the education and counseling that goes along with making the decision…timing is very important, side effects – they need to know about that.”

Teen pregnancy is an issue that hits close to home for many. According to the most recent data in 2008, New Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate. Nearby Texas and Arizona are in the top 6.

Either way, both Ruth Romo and Shannon Rodriguez believe ultimately in another plan.

“I wish it wasn’t plan B, I wish it was plan A,” said Romo. “If a student needs to use Plan B for any reason, then they need to make a plan for better birth control options,” said Rodriguez.                            

Condoms are available free of charge at the Dona Ana County Health Office on N. Solano and in most local health departments. High school students with a school-based health center can also receive them free of charge.