By Wendy Widom
CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents: Preventing teen pregnancy just got a little less complicated. Or did it? The American Academy of Pediatrics published its recommendation, in the journal Pediatrics, that sexually active teenage girls use long-acting birth control methods like Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) as a first option for avoiding pregnancy.
This news was met with trepidation and wariness among parents. Some are conflicted about encouraging their daughters to use a contraceptive device once thought to be associated with older women. For other parents, their greatest concern is whether a teenage girl is mature enough to make the decision that she is ready to have sex, even if it is in a monogamous, loving relationship. Amidst this is a worry that girls with IUDs might be less likely to use condoms, which prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn wants to curb teen pregnancy by encouraging doctors to prescribe highly effective forms of birth control like the IUD, citing the potential savings to taxpayers. Currently, Medicaid in Illinois pays for “94 percent of the state’s births to teenage mothers and 54 percent of all the state’s deliveries,” according to a CBS News report. In 2012, the cost of a typical birth was $18,500 and more than $300,000 for more complicated cases.
By incentivizing doctors to recommend contraceptive devices like IUDs, the Quinn Administration says taxpayers could save millions of dollars and fewer girls would become teen moms. In Colorado, where similar programs have been instituted, teen pregnancy and abortion rates have dropped significantly.
Regardless of savings and statistics, the idea that their teenage girls are sexually active is an uncomfortable notion for many parents. “I almost had a heart attack when I had to put my 14-year-old on birth control because of crazy periods. But as a high school teacher seeing so many young girls pregnant, I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” states mom of three girls, Debbie, on Facebook.
Says a Chicago mom, somewhat cheekily, “I’m no prude, but I just had an anxiety attack reading this thread. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys.”