NYC schools give out morning-after pills to students — without telling parents [Excerpts]
The Department of Education is giving morning-after pills and other birth-control drugs to students at 13 high schools [now 14], The Post has learned.
School nurse offices stocked with the contraceptives can dispense “Plan B” emergency contraception and other oral or injectable birth control to girls without telling their parents — unless parents opt out after getting a school informational letter about the new program.
CATCH — Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health — is part of a citywide attack against the epidemic of teen pregnancy, which spurs many girls — most of them poor — to drop out of school.
While Big Apple high schools have long supplied free condoms to sexually active teens, this is the first time city schools have dispensed hormonal birth control and Plan B, which can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.
So far, during an unpublicized pilot program in five city schools last year, 567 students received Plan B tablets and 580 students received Reclipsen birth-control pills, the city Department of Health told The Post. This fall, students can also get Depo-Provera, a birth-control drug injected once every three months, officials said.
Oral and injectable contraceptives require prescriptions, which, in the CATCH program, are written by Health Department doctors.
Parents at the 14 schools were sent letters informing them about CATCH. Parents may bar their kids from getting pregnancy tests or contraceptives if they sign and return an opt-out statement.
If they do not, schools can confidentially give the contraception without permission.
An average 1 to 2 percent of parents at each school have returned the opt-out sheets, said DOH spokeswoman Alexandra Waldhorn.
But some school insiders dislike the CATCH program’s lack of parental involvement and fear medical complications.
“We can’t give out a Tylenol without a doctor’ s order,” said a school staffer. “Why should we give out hormonal preparations with far more serious possible side effects, such as blood clots and hypertension?
(Edelman/Fagen, "NYC schools give out morning-after pills to students — without telling parents," New York Post, September 24, 2012)