NBC's Chief Medical Editor Endorses Morning-After Pill for Teen Girls to 'Prevent Abortion'

After reporting on the FDA allowing girls as young as 15-years-old to receive the morning-after pill without a prescription or parental consent, NBC's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman voiced her support for the controversial decision: "13, 14, and 15-year-olds are having intercourse. So we have to talk about, if we want to prevent abortions, should we have birth control, contraception that's safe, condoms, and put all of this stuff out there for active teenagers?"

In her report, Snyderman touted how "The pill's manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, welcomed the ruling, calling it 'a significant milestone for women.'" But she also admitted that "lowering the age restriction is likely to dramatically raise the level of controversy, especially among parents and teens."

After citing FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg arguing that "The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works and how to use it properly," Snyderman also noted that "groups opposed to lowering the age restriction were quick to fire back."

A sound bite followed of Jeanne Monahan of March for Life: "What Tuesday's ruling did was it removed medical screening for young women who are sexually active. Most parents and most reasonable people will agree that that's not in the best interest of young women's public health."

Describing the decision as "a hotly contested issue," Snyderman highlighted the federal court ruling that forced the Obama administration to allow the age restriction change: "Last month a federal court overruled [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius], saying that the decision [not to allow the age restriction change] was 'politically motivated, and scientifically unjustified'..."


Here is a full transcript of the May 1 segment:

7:08AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We're following a major decision by the FDA on who can buy the so-called morning-after pill. And this is stirring up some controversy. Dr. Nancy Snyderman is NBC's chief medical editor. Nancy, good morning to you.

NANCY SNYDERMAN: Good morning, Savannah. Hi, Matt. We're talking about the morning-after pill, as you said, it's an emergency contraception known as Plan B One-Step because it's one pill. Until now it's been available to women 17 and over, but this morning, because of yesterday's decision by the FDA, the age restriction is being lowered to 15 and it's now being moved over the counter.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Morning-After Pill Available For Girls 15 & Older; FDA Approves "Plan B" Without Prescription]

Starting this morning, the Plan B One-Step pill will begin to appear at retail outlets with a new label that reads, "Not for sale for those under 15 years of age." The age restriction now two years younger than it had been. The pill's manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, welcomed the ruling, calling it "a significant milestone for women."

But lowering the age restriction is likely to dramatically raise the level of controversy, especially among parents and teens.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think the parents should know about, you know, if they're going to take some kind of pill like that.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I would want my child to speak with me, but not all families are the same.

SNYDERMAN: FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said in a statement, "The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works and how to use it properly."

The groups opposed to lowering the age restriction were quick to fire back.

JEANNE MONAHAN [MARCH FOR LIFE]: What Tuesday's ruling did was it removed medical screening for young women who are sexually active. Most parents and most reasonable people will agree that that's not in the best interest of young women's public health.

SNYDERMAN: It's been a hotly contested issue. Two years ago an FDA panel recommended all age restrictions on the so-called morning-after pill be removed. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius vetoed that. Then last month a federal court overruled her, saying that the decision was "politically motivated, and scientifically unjustified," ordering the FDA to make the pill available to anyone regardless of age.

We should note that the FDA ruling applies only to the Plan B One-Step, that's one pill, a slightly higher dose. It does not affect the restrictions on the traditional Plan B, which requires two doses, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: I guess the question is, Nancy, what are the implications of a 15-year-old taking this drug? Is it medically safe? But also the maturity issue, is this something were you worry that teenagers will go out and use this as regular birth control?

SNYDERMAN: I think for the first one, is that this is the most studied group of medications on the market, contraception. And there's no evidence that this is – biologically can hurt you or cause problems down the line.

Now, where parents get wiggy is to think, "Could my 15-year-old be having sex?" And the answer is, yes. 13, 14, and 15-year-olds are having intercourse. So we have to talk about, if we want to prevent abortions, should we have birth control, contraception that's safe, condoms, and put all of this stuff out there for active teenagers?  Still have the conversation about the difference between love and sex, and remind kids, this may prevent pregnancy but doesn't do anything for STDs like HIV, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis. So, it's to prevent pregnancy, but is it safe? As a doctor, I have to tell you, yes, it is.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Nancy Snyderman, thank you so much.

SNYDERMAN: You bet.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC