The New York City Department of Education has announced that it has expanded a pilot program across thirteen area high schools, which will provide free contraceptives to students without parental consent.
The program is called CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health) and was launched in an effort to prevent teenage pregnancy. While there are no reports that the initiative seeks to teach abstinence to students, it does make available the morning-after pill along with various birth control products to all teens who request them.
Although the Department of Education mailed a notification letter to advise parents that the program was taking effect at their child’s school, which provided the opportunity to opt out their teen if they so desired, parents may not be notified when their child actually asks for the drug. To date, only 2% of parents have chosen to opt out their children from CATCH.
Reports outline that nurse’s offices at area schools have been stocked with contraceptives such as Plan B, as well as Reclipsen, a birth control pill, and may be available to students as young as 14 years of age.
Fourteen schools were originally tapped to be a part of CATCH, but the Seward Park location in Manhattan was dropped because school officials stated that the medical office was overwhelmed by the demand for the contraceptives. Schools throughout New York City have already been providing condoms to students as per their request.
CATCH was first tested last year in five local schools. The Department of Health told the New York Post that across those five locations, 567 students received the morning after pill and 580 students obtained birth control. It also explained that an estimated 64% of pregnant girls in the city age 17 and under have an abortion.
“I would go to the nurse without telling my parents, and I would ask for help,” one 14-year-old girl admitted.
However, an employee at one of the high schools enrolled in CATCH said that she is concerned about the matter.
“We can’t give out a Tylenol without a doctor’ s order,” the unidentified staff member lamented. “Why should we give out hormonal preparations with far more serious possible side effects, such as blood clots and hypertension?”
“[B]oth parents and schools should be teaching abstinence, not how to fix promiscuity errors,” concerned citizen Barbara Paolucci declared. “Out of wedlock pregnancies were rare by comparison with the years since sex was taught in the schools.”
Commenter Paula Spagnuolo agreed.
“Just don’t give them a 24 oz. soda and everything will be okay. How anyone can even wonder what is to blame for the mess we find ourselves in today in America stuns me,” she said. “We have turned ourselves into a society where everything is a ‘free for all’ and the government raises our children.”
New York City is believed to be the first and only school system in the nation offering Plan B to youth.