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Family Clinic offers many services, including “morning after pill”

The Family Planning Clinic at the LBJ Medical Center hopes that the decline in births for American Samoa in the last three years is attributed to couples planning on when to have children and the biggest issue in such planning is for “economic reasons”, and offers a variety of contraceptive methods, including the emergency “morning after pill”.


This is according to Marilyn Pavitt-Anesi, who is the program manager of the Family Planning Program for LBJ, whose data shows that in 2011 there were 1,262 births; in 2012 there were 1,169; and last year 1,155.


“Based on this data, total births came down last year, compared to the two previous years and I like to think that.. the decline seems to be connected to an increase of people having family planning,” she said in a Samoa News interview. “So maybe more people are choosing when to have babies, planning their pregnancies.”


“There are a lot of variables for people now planning when to have children. Maybe they don’t have a job yet, may be not all their paperwork is in place,” she said. “But I notice that the biggest factor that men and women... want family planning, is for economic reasons. So that seems to have an impact on [their decision].”


The Family Planning clinic has brochures and literature on various issues on birth control facts — including information for teens, she said, adding there are still a lot of parents and others who are not aware that the clinic has all of this information, including birth control pills and other contraceptives.


She said residents are also not aware that Family Planning also provides an “emergency contraception” or the pill for the morning after. “There are situations in which the woman, along with her male partner, didn’t plan on having sexual contact and we have this emergency contraception, the pill,” she said.


“It’s not an abortion,” she emphasized. “It’s one pill we give them. We have it available all the time, but because the information is not widely available to the public, not many people are aware of this emergency contraception and are usually surprised when they visit us.


“However, you have to come within 72 hours after having sexual relations for the pill to work,” she said, adding that there is another type of emergency contraception, but most of the women — including teenagers, accompanied by their parents — prefer the pill.


Asked if emergency contraception is also available to female rape victims, she replied, “Yes and every victim is given this emergency contraception. It's part of our protocol in rape cases. Day or night, when such a case comes up, I come in and give the victim the pill.”


She says that it's very important that a rape victim contacts the local authorities immediately after the incident, then goes through the necessary medical check up, because the pill only works within the 72 hours after sexual contact.


“The pill is about 95% effective but the most effective — about 99% effective — is called the IUD,” she said and asked that anyone in need of more information about the many types of services provided by Family Planning to please call the office at 633-1222 ext. 324.