Pediatricians warn against new app that allows teens to obtain contraceptives

A package of the contraceptive pill Plan B is featured in this image. | Wikimedia Commons/Bgtp

Pediatricians are warning against a new mobile phone application that allows teenagers as young as 12 to obtain contraceptives and abortion pills without parental knowledge or consultation with a local physician.

Nurx, which is known to some as the "Uber for birth control," delivers contraceptive and abortive medications including the pill, vaginal ring, Plan B and Ella. The company, which started in 2015, aims to provide access to contraceptives to women and girls who live in areas that do not have access to public clinics.

The application, which has a minimum age requirement of 12, is now available in 15 states, and the company is aiming to expand to all 50 states in the future.

Dr. Patricia Lee June of the American College of Pediatricians Board of Directors has expressed concern that the new application allows teenagers to make reproductive health decisions without the knowledge of their parents.

"Nurx wrongly excludes those who know the child and her health history best — her parents and her physician, and places the full responsibility for a life-changing healthcare decision on a girl's shoulders. When it comes to achieving optimal teen health, connected parents – not Smartphones – are paramount," she said, according to Life Site News.

The Kansas City Star reported that Nurx is free in most states for those who have insurance, and costs $15 a month for those without.

Pro-life advocates in some states, such as North Carolina and Texas, are now urging lawmakers to introduce a legislation that would place restrictions on the mobile application.

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right for Life, and Susan Klein, executive director of Missouri Right to Life, expressed concern about the distribution of the morning after pill as they view it as an equivalent to the abortion pill RU 486.

"We believe life begins at fertilization. That's the point where we have an individual, and morally that's who we want to protect," said Seago, explaining his stance against emergency contraceptives.

Pro-life activists have also raised concerns about Nurx's lack of age limit, but the company has insisted that the application has more screening measures than pharmacies.

Users are reportedly required to answer medical questions, before receiving personal follow-up consultation with one of the company's medical officers, and each state's laws still apply in terms of age limits.

Nurx's mission, according to its website, states: "We believe that control over your own healthcare is a human right, and something everyone deserves. Every woman should have convenient access to birth control where and when she needs it."

"We want to challenge the status quo, break down unnecessary barriers and give women more control over their own health," it continued.