New York City public schools handed out nearly 13,000 doses of the morning-after pill to high school students during the last school year and no one had to tell their parents about it.
The pills and other contraceptives were distributed to the students through the nurses' office under a new program called CATCH - Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health. The program was made public in a New York Post report last September and was billed as part of a citywide solution to stem teen pregnancy. The morning-after pill can block pregnancy to up to 72 hours after sex.
At the time of the announcement, city officials said they had started giving out Plan B, another name for the morning-after pill, and other birth control through the nurses' office at only 13 city high schools and some 567 girls were reportedly given the drug, according to the New York Post. Another report from The New York Times also noted that while the pills would be available to students without parental permission, parents could opt their children out of the health program (and the provision of any contraceptives) at the start of the school year. Minors don't need parental permission to get contraceptives in New York State.
New data reported by the New York Post this week, however, revealed that not 13 but about 40 separate "school-based health centers" served up 12,721 doses of Plan B in the 2011-2012 school year. That was an increase compared to the 10,720 doses issued during the 2010-2011 school year, as well as on the 5,039 issued during the 2009-2010 school year.
"This administration has basically been telling bold-faced lies," the Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of the New Yorker's Family Research Foundation, told The Christian Post on Thursday. "New York City parents were led to believe that this was just a small program. But we have now seen this program grow exponentially. This is an issue on which the parents are going to have to loudly voice their opinion because the mayor's administration has been largely deaf [to it]," he added.
He also noted that schools say "they give parents an opt-out form but they should make it opt-in" as most of the forms don't make it home to them anyhow. "I think it's counter-productive and counter-intuitive for them to do this," he said.
Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, highlighted her concerns about giving students the morning-after pill.
"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?" asked Nance in an op-ed.
"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," said Nance.
NYC Parents Union President Mona Davids, whose 14-year-old attends a Manhattan high school, told the New York Post that the news was worrisome. "I'm in shock," she said. "What gives the mayor the right to decide, without adequate notice, to give our children drugs that will impact their bodies and their psyches? He has purposely kept the public and parents in the dark with his agenda."
Davids, who is black, added that most school-based health centers are in poor neighborhoods and they targeted the black and Latino populations. According to the New York Post report, besides "emergency contraception," about 40 school-based clinics have dispensed prescriptions for birth-control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormone-delivering injections and Patch and NuvaRing – covering a total 93,569 monthly cycles through June 2012.
Handouts of birth-control packets rose from 6,027 in 2009-10 to 10,462 last year. Depo-Provera injections rose from 1,213 to 2,117. Plastic IUDs were also inserted in the uterus, where they can remain for years. New York City reported that some 6,300 NYC girls under age 17 had unplanned pregnancies last year, and more than half had abortions. Of those who gave birth, about 70 percent drop out of school, making their futures bleak, said the report.