Students, some as young as 14, will now have access to Plan B contraception – more commonly known as the “morning after” pill – without parental consent.
It’s a progressive pilot program being introduced in 13 New York City public schools.
Parents do have the right to opt out of the program at the beginning of the school year.
The program, titled CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health) is part of a wider effort to lower the rate of teen pregnancy, as some 7,000 New York residents under the age of 17 get pregnant each year.
CATCH provided Plan B contraceptives to more than 1,000 students, and gave them access to Depo-Provera, an injection form of birth control.
Not surprisingly, some have expressed fury over the program.
But a 2009 Associated Press poll reported that more parents — 67 percent of respondents — support distribution of contraceptives in schools.
I’m always in awe over the number of people that object to greater access to birth control by teenagers.
I understand that as a parent you would prefer your kids not be sexually active until they are 1) married or 2) mature enough to understand both the complexity and the consequences of a sexual relationship.
I’d actually prefer my kids were 30 before they become sexually active, but according to the Kinsey Institute, the average age of first intercourse by males is 16 and 17 for females. By the time they are 18, 70 percent of females are sexually active, compared to 62 percent of males.
Girls between ages 14-17 only use condoms 58 percent of the time and even less, as they get older. That’s a recipe for an awful lot of teenage mothers.
It’s shocking to me that some parents are willing to insist on abstinence. Or worse yet, are burying their heads in the sand about the probability that their own children could very well be among the almost half of the teenage population, who are having partnered sexual relationships.
It’s also shocking that people complain about who’s going to pay for Plan B, which costs between $10 to $70. Compared to the $235,000 on average, it now costs to raise a child, I’d say the state of New York is being “fiscally responsible.”
From the New York City Department of Health, the statistics for teenage pregnancies are as follows:
- 7,000 girls under age 17 got pregnant last year citywide.
- 90 percent of those pregnancies were unplanned
- 64 percent were aborted
- 2,200 became moms by age 17, and approximately 70 percent drop out of school
I’m almost positive the proper and widespread use of birth control would have a staggering effect on those statistics.
To me, it’s absolutely imperative to discuss sex and your wishes for abstinence with your children, if that is your position. I also think it’s irresponsible to withhold contraception from sexually active high school students because you’d prefer they didn’t have sex in the first place.
After all, isn’t it possible that open and honest communication about sexual relationships, birth control, pregnancy and its consequences could encourage your children to wait anyway?
Amy Grace is married with two children. You can read her every Friday on momaha.
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