NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The New York City Department of Education has begun offering the so-called morning-after pill to students in a pilot program at 13 high schools across the city.
The school nurse offices have been stocked with Plan B emergency contraception and others like it in an effort to combat teen pregnancy, according to a statement from the Department of Education.
The birth control will be available to students as young as 14 without parental notification, according to the DOE.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she thinks the pilot program will help fight against teen pregnancy.
“High school students are very sexually active and getting pregnant so we don’t have that luxury to think that they are too young to be engaged in conversations about contraception and sexual education,” Quinn told WCBS 880.
Parents have the option to opt their children out of the program that provides the free emergency contraception. The Department of Education has sent notes to parents alerting them about the new program and information on how to opt out.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports
Just 1-2% of parents have opted out of the program, the DOE said.
The pills have been made available under the new school program known as CATCH – Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health – which is aimed at stemming teen pregnancy.
Some parents oppose the program, and said schools should not be offering emergency contraception to students.
“I just don’t agree with the morning-after pill for a child who really isn’t aware of what they’re getting themselves into at this point,” one Upper West Side mother told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.
“I’m going to go home and discuss this with my kids even though they’re grown. I have grandchildren and I’m definitely going to go home and discuss this matter with them as well,” the woman said.
Others question the lack of parental notification when the contraception is given.
“Should the high school or the city pay for it? Are we responsible for that? I don’t think so, but to have a 14-year-old child in that dilemma, that’s not a good situation either,” one woman told Schuck. ”I would hope that a 14-year-old girl would have that kind of relationship at least with her mother.”
According to city figures, more than 7,000 New York City residents get pregnant by the time they are 17 years old. More than half of those pregnancies are aborted, the Department of Health said.
The city said the program to offer contraception without parental notification is in accordance with state law.
“I think that it is correct to not have parental notification. Just as I do as it relates to no parental notification around abortions because the complexity of it, although reflexively that sounds right, it really will end up in reality rendering the resource useless for many of the girls who need it most,” Quinn told WCBS 880.
This is the first time the city’s public schools have dispensed hormonal birth control and Plan B and it may be a first nationwide, according to the New York Post.
Schools already have free condoms available to students.
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