Low-Income Schools In NYC Disburse Morning-After Pill Without Parental Consent
A program known as Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health (CATCH), has set-up shop in New York City public schools to give students the morning-after pill as well as other birth control medication. The problem? Parents don’t have to know about it.
Students at 13 participating schools are given an opt-out letter that their parents are to sign and return to the school’s administrators if they don’t want their child to have access to the birth control medication. If the form is not returned, students are automatically enrolled and can be given emergency contraception without parental consent. The New York City Department of Education says only 1%-2% of parents opted their kids out, reported the Post.
The pilot program intially began with five schools in early 2011, and expanded to 14 schools. One school has since withdrawn from the program. ”I think that it is correct to not have parental notification,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told local reporters. “Just as I do as it relates to no parental notification around abortions because the complexity of it, although reflexively that sounds right, it really will end up in reality rendering the resource useless for many of the girls who need it most.”
Despite debates about moral dilemmas over parental consent, the city has been proactive in reducing teen pregnancies at its schools. Condoms have been available for free in public high schools for several years. And in 2011, the city made s*x-education classes that taught how to put on a condom a mandatory class in high schools, as well as middle schools. The initiatives appear to have worked. According to the city’s statistics, teen pregnancies have decreased every year since 2000.
But teen pregnancy rates remain high in the city’s poorer neighborhoods, and because the majority of the 13 schools enrolled in CATCH are in low-income areas, the new program could act as a way to reduce that number with free emergency contraception pills. According to the New York Post, the National Association of School Nurses says no other school district in the country gives students free access to emergency contraception. The cost of a Plan B dose can cost as much as $50.