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Should teenage girls be able to buy the morning-after pill over the counter, without a prescription? Or do they need additional supervision (and perhaps a lecture on safe sex :))? According to a new study, teenagers are able to use Plan B in accordance with the package instructions even without seeing a doctor.

The study appeared in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology this month, and was supposed to bring good news for many teenage girls who would like to have easy access to the emergency contraceptive. The study helped the Food and Drug Administration decide that women of any age should be able to purchase the morning-after pill over the counter. But, the decision was overturned by the Department of Health and Human Services.

So, let's hear about the research. A team from the University of California in San Francisco, led by Dr Tina Raine, looked at how teens between 13 and 17 would use the morning-after pill. These were girls who came to clinics in five different cities, looking for the emergency contraceptive. The study subjects were asked to read the package insert, with the instructions and other information about how the morning-after pill works, and were then asked if they still wanted to use it.

Those who did took part in a survey about their medical history and why they wished to use the morning-after pill. The team then determine whether or not the drug was appropriate for them. Most made their decisions in medically appropriate ways, and others decided not to use it because the period in which the morning-after pill would be most effective had passed. Whether or not an emergency contraceptive "customer" uses the drug correctly had nothing to do with age, researchers concluded.

They added there are no medical concerns about giving teenagers under 17 access to Plan B and that is why the FDA approved it but that the reason the emergency contraceptive is still not available for that age group are purely social and political.

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