Birth control: NYC schools dispensing morning-after pill to girls
Birth control – Plan B, morning-after pills – are distributed at 53 schools in New York's 1-million-student school system. About 7,000 15- to 17-year-old New York City girls get pregnant annually.
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But Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union, a volunteer group, opposes the program. She has a daughter who attends Laguardia High, not among the schools where Plan B is available.Skip to next paragraph
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She said parents should have to sign an "opt-in" form granting permission for Plan B instead. "When your daughter has gone on a trip, didn't you have to sign that it's OK for her to go on a trip?" she said.
Davids said emergency contraceptive is too serious a drug to give without parents' permission: "They can't even give our kids aspirin or Motrin without informed consent. This is a chemical hormonal drug cocktail."
Anne Leary, a conservative blogger in Chicago whose children are in their 20s, also said the idea is ill-advised and undermines parents' authority. Her own children attended high school in a Chicago suburb and were not offered emergency contraception at school.
"These kids are under 16, which is the age for statutory rape in most states. I just think it's subsidizing and encouraging behavior that's probably not healthy for kids that age," Leary said.
New York City's schools already offer regular birth control pills and condoms, just as many other schools around the country do. But emergency contraception is especially controversial.
Many scientists say Plan B works by blocking ovulation or fertilization. But Plan B's label says it may also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, and conservative activists who believe life begins at conception contend it amounts to an abortion pill.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says Plan B does not cause abortion or encourage risky sex, and it has called for the sale of the morning-after pill over the counter to help prevent teen pregnancies.
Last year, however, the Obama administration blocked plans to put the pills on drugstore shelves, keeping them behind the pharmacy counter. The contraceptive requires a prescription for those under 17 but is available to older women without a prescription if they show pharmacists proof of age.
Opposition to making Plan B available over the counter came mostly from conservatives and religious groups who said such a step would promote underage sex.
Teen pregnancies have declined in recent years nationwide, a trend attributed partly to increased use of birth control.
The most recent government figures show the rate was about 70 pregnancies per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19 in 2008. New York City's rate was 82 per 1,000 girls that year, and dropped to 73 per 1,000 in 2010. Nationwide, about 43 percent of girls ages 15 to 19 have had sex.
Some students on their way Tuesday to New York's Fashion Industries High School said they knew emergency contraception was available there, while others did not.
Yerenia Aybar, another ninth-grader, said girls her age shouldn't get the pill. "It might make students think it's OK to have sex," she said.