NYC schools will give out free birth control to kids
Say goodbye to those awkward trips to the drugstore! Soon, some female students in New York City will be able to get their birth control at the school nurse's office. The city's Department of Education is starting a program in that will provide students in 13 different high schools around the city with popular morning-after pill Plan B, and other forms of birth control--without a parent's consent.
The program, known as CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health), will give girls as young as 14 easier access to emergency contraception and oral or injectable birth control in an effort to further prevent teenage pregnancy. Though the schools have long since been giving out free condoms, this will mark the first time that they have ever made hormonal birth control drugs readily available to students.
The Department of Education has sent notices alerting parents about this new protocol and giving them the opportunity to "opt-out" of the program on behalf of their kids. However, apparently only about one to two percent of parents have chosen to do so--the rest of the students will be able to receive the contraceptives, no permission necessary.
Personally, I'm all for supplying youth with free, confidential access to birth control. In fact, I think it's necessary since obviously, these teens--including those on the younger side--are having sex. It's naïve and unrealistic to assume otherwise and even moreso to think that they will go to their parents for help.
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However, in this case, I do have some hesitations, mostly because in order for a program like this to be effective and safe for the students, it has to be monitored extremely closely. Why? My main concern is that given free and unrestricted access, girls will begin thinking of Plan B as their primary form of birth control, which is dangerous and risky to their health. The same goes for handing out birth control pills without knowing an individual's medical background, particularly since the tablets almost always come with side effects and health hazards. I know that places like Planned Parenthood give girls the opportunity to get examined before being prescribed with a drug…will these schools do the same thing or at the very least, provide a student with specific instructions on proper use at each of their visits?
Overall, I still maintain that the schools are doing the right thing by making it easier for girls to get birth control. I just hope that they will encourage students to use no-risk contraceptive methods first (like condoms) first and that if and when they need to do dole out other forms, it will be done so responsibly.
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