Janis Lilly, coordinator of the Teen Information Parenting Success program in Derry, said the decision expands the alternatives available to young people. She runs a support group at The Upper Room for pregnant young women between the ages of 13 and 23.
“To have another option means it would open the discussion up at the dinner table even more,” Lilly said.
She attributes the region’s low birth rates to increased access to health care education and services, and more of a willingness to talk about sensitive subjects such as birth control, especially in New Hampshire.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the New England culture,” Lilly said. “I don’t think there is as much hesitancy to talk about (birth control).”
She also praised the state’s education system for promoting sex education in school.
“I think New Hampshire has a really strong health education curriculum,” Lilly said.
Jennifer Frizzell, senior adviser for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, agreed improved access to contraception and health education are two major factors responsible for New Hampshire’s low teen birth rate.
Making the morning-after pill readily available to more teenage girls will help reduce the birth rate even further, she said.
“Certainly, we think any increased access to a form of birth control is good policy and good sense,” Frizzell said.
Patricia Tilley of New Hampshire’s Bureau of Population, Health and Community Services also agreed that statewide efforts to increase access to emergency contraception and health education are making a difference.
“Education and prevention are our goal,” she said.
But representatives for right-to-life groups strongly oppose the FDA’s decision, saying availability of the morning-after pill to younger teens encourages them to have sex without considering all the consequences.
They also question whether the pill, which includes large doses of hormones, is medically safe for anyone — never mind young teens.