Kids can't have a super-sized soda pop in The Empire State, but they can have the morning-after pill? Wow. Things really are "different in New York." As a woman and a mom, the idea of young girls getting any unauthorized medication at school is a concern. Ibuprofen isn't even allowed without explicit parental approval. Who are the geniuses that decided this is a good idea?
Oh, that's right. It was the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) that decided to dispense Plan B/One Step – a.k.a., "the morning-after pill" – to teenage girls as young as 14 without parental consent. Really? Wrap your mind around this one.
Is this the proper role for the NYC school systems which, by the way, has over 1.1 million school children enrolled? That's more than the entire population of North Dakota and Wyoming combined! If school administrators paid as much attention to overall education as they do to sex education, then America would have a stellar educational system. As it is, public education is failing. According to the Washington Post, the SAT reading scores for the 2012 high school class are at record lows, making more than half of students unprepared for the rigors of college.
Unashamedly, the NYCDOE has placed their politics above students and their well-being. And if the NYCDOE wants to play politics, then parents must step up to the election polls and make their complaints heard.
The NYCDOE is endangering the health of children by removing parents from the decision-making process. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a minor to obtain a prescription for good reason. Plan B contains Levonorgestrel, the same drug used in other forms of birth control, except this drug contains a dosage up to 40 times the dose of regular birth control. Yes, 40 times the dose. Yet, the NYCDOE has conveniently skirted this law by having their own doctors write prescriptions and dispense Plan B and birth control in school nurses' offices without a parent ever having to know.
What if the student has a serious problem related to the medication and her parents rush her to the hospital? They would not be able to tell the doctor that their daughter is on this medication, because the school would have given it to her without their knowledge. That lack of knowledge may prevent proper medical care or cause a dangerous drug interaction. But hey, at least the school made sure your daughter wasn't pregnant, right? Well, not necessarily, because studies show that in countries where plan B is dispensed without medical oversight there is actually an increase in both STDs and abortion rates. Apparently, the false sense of security increased risky behavior.
In addition, how does the NYCDOE know that these young girls are not involved in dangerous or possibly illegal relationships? What if a girl is being sold by a pimp or is a victim of statutory rape? It's a legitimate concern; according to the Justice Department, one in two rape victims are under age 18.1 Perpetrators who know that high school girls can essentially grab a box of Plan B from the school nurse may force their victim to take the abortion-inducing drug to cover up their crimes. If school administrators distribute Plan B with no questions asked, they place themselves in a position of aiding and abetting child molesters.
The painful truth is that parents hold partial responsibility for this foolish health policy. Parents have a civic duty to elect public officials who reflect their values, and, in many cases, conservative moms and dads are failing to show up at the polls. But it is their vote, or lack thereof, that sets off this domino effect of poor health policies in school. In New York City, parents elected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in turn appointed NYC Department of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott in April 2011 along with eight members of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP). Chancellor Walcott then appointed the 13 remaining PEP members who set in motion the administration's agenda.
Right now, the NYCDOE is imposing its pro-abortion policy in 13 of its New York schools. But unless parents stand up in opposition, we can expect this program to extend district-wide to the 1,700 other New York City school precincts, ultimately affecting 1.1 million students.
New York City taxpayers are forking over $24 billion to sustain the NYCDOE's annual budget supposedly aimed at "ensuring that all students are college and career-ready by graduation." To me that sounds more like educating and informing than preventative health care, no? Apparently in New York City, birth control and abortion-inducing drugs are all you need to succeed in college.
The New York City Department of Education could use some education. This pilot program, titled CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare), has a catch of its own. When abortion drugs are handed out like candy in high schools, it is time to change the direction of the country.
As the first major group to take on the morning-after pill, Concerned Women for America (CWA) will continue to educate the public and legislators about this harmful abortifacient. Parents, join CWA and protect your teenagers from education policies that threaten your children's health and safety. The first step is to simply vote. By electing officials who represent your ideals and moral and will appoint others who also reflect your values, you can safeguard your children and strengthen your families and our country. Elections have consequences.
Are you registered? Find out at www.SheVotes2012.org.
Penny Young Nance is the chief executive officer of Concerned Women for America. Nance most recently served as President of Nance and Associates and as Special Advisor for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where she advised the Chairman and the Commissioners on media and social issues. Before joining the FCC, Nance was founder and President of the Kids First Coalition, a non-profit organization focused on educating Capitol Hill, the media, and the public on a variety of issues related to children.