The "morning-after pill" and other contraceptives are being provided to girls in 13 New York City high schools. They can be administered to students without their parents being notified under a health initiative called Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health, the New York Post reported.
Students don’t have to tell their parents they are taking birth control or have taken the Plan B morning-after pill unless parents have decided in advance to opt out of the program, the Post said.
The Big Apple schools are trying to prevent teenage pregnancy by offering hormonal birth control and Plan B while also discouraging pregnant teen mothers from dropping.
The brand name morning-after pill can prevent pregnancy if it is taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. But it does not prevent STDs or HIV and is more effective the sooner it is taken.
This is not the first time schools have given out hormonal birth control and the morning after pills; in an unpublicized pilot, five city schools previously provided the pregnancy-prevention pills to female students, the Post reported.
The city Department of Health told the Post that 567 students received Plan B tablets and 580 students received Reclipsen birth-control pills.
In the new program students also can opt to get Depo-Provera, a birth control that is administered once every three months, according to officials.
If students decide they want the hormonal contraceptives, they will need prescriptions that will be written by Health Department doctors, according to the CATCH office.
Plan B can be bought over the counter, but only to individuals who are 18 and over. Minors must have a prescription.
Students in the CATCH program can go to a school physician and explain that they’ve had unprotected sex. The girls will then be given a pregnancy test and if they are not already pregnant they will be given the pill.
Parents who disapprove of the program can sign a document so their daughter cannot take part. Only an average 1 to 2 percent of parents at each school have returned the opt-out sheets, said DOH spokeswoman Alexandra Waldhorn.
“I don’t want to be a young kid who gets pregnant and can’t find a job,” one freshman told the Post.
Another 14-year-old friend agreed. “I would go to the nurse without telling my parents, and I would ask for help,” she said.
According to th city Health Department, as reported by the Post, 7,000 girls under age 17 got pregnant last year citywide. Ninety percent of those pregnancies were unplanned, 64 percent were aborted, and 2,200 became mothers by age 17. About 70 percent drop out of school.