For a year, CATCH for Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare, a program aimed to prevent teenage pregnancy quietly went unnoticed in several New York City public schools. As of last year, 13 public high schools have equipped their nurses with emergency contraception. The pills are designed to prevent a pregnancy, if used within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. So far 567 students have received emergency contraception courtesy of their school. In addition to the morning after pill, the schools also have condoms and easy access to birth control pills for students.
According to Alexandra Waldhorn, a health department spokesperson, “In New York City over 7,000 young women become pregnant by age 17, 90 percent of which are unplanned. We are committed to trying new approaches, like this pilot program in place since January 2011, to improve a situation that can have lifelong consequences.”
Between 1 to 2 percent of parents have decided to opt out of the program, so it seems that most agree with the initiative. But of course not everyone agrees with distributing the morning after pill. New York State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D) wants Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end the program. “It is unconscionable for New York City’s government to implement any program that gives medication to students without the prior authorization of parents,” he said in a letter to the mayor.
Should high schools be equipped with the power to disseminate the morning after pill?