In an effort to fight teenage pregnancies and ultimately school dropout, some New York City high schools are offering the morning-after pill and other methods of birth control – without parents’ consent.
The city’s Department of Education has told the media that the emergency contraceptive Plan B is available in more than a dozen public schools to girls as young as 14 years old. Plan B is taken to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex and is most effective within 72 hours after the act.
The pills are given as part of a pilot program known as Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health, or CATCH. Parents were notified of the program and given the option to have their daughters opt out, according to multiple reports.
Health Department spokeswoman Alexandra Althorn told the New York Post that an average of 1 percent to 2 percent of parents at each school chose to have their daughters opt out of the program.
According to city data, more than 20,000 teen pregnancies occur in NYC annually, with about 87 percent of them being unplanned. The rate of teen pregnancy varies by neighborhood; in high-poverty neighborhoods, the likelihood of being pregnant during one's teens is triple than in low-poverty areas.
The CATCH program has garnered the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who told CBS that high school students are "very sexually active and getting pregnant, so we don’t have that luxury to think that they are too young to be engaged in conversations about contraception and sexual education."