NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending a city-funded pilot program to give female students contraceptives, including the “morning-after pill,” otherwise known as Plan B.
The CATCH program, which stands for Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare, is one of the first of its kind in the nation specifically designed to target the teen pregnancy epidemic by giving public school students access to birth control pills.
Plan B can halt pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.
In addition, students can now get a birth control drug injected once every three months.
This is all in addition to access to condoms.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb On The Story
“The good news is we’ve brought teenage pregnancy down by, I think, something like 25 percent over the last 10 years,” Bloomberg told reporters on Monday. “The bad news is there’s still an awful lot of girls who get pregnant at a very early age.”
According to the Department of Health, more than 7,000 girls in New York City will become pregnant by age 17. Ninety percent of those pregnancies are unplanned and more than half are terminated.
To combat teen pregnancy, the contraception program is available at 13 schools in high-risk zones.
The birth control is available to students as young as 14 without parental notification, according to the Department of Education.
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.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports
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 don’t agree with it because you can give a kid a pill from 14 on but you can’t give them an aspirin if they have a headache, makes no sense,” school aide Denise Nicoletti said.
“I think that’s awful,” parent Spiros Rally said. “I think with something like that it’s very intrusive. These are still children, they’re not 18-years-old, they’re in high school and they don’t have the experience or knowledge or maturity to make those decisions for themselves.”
Parents can bar their children from getting contraceptives or a pregnancy test if they sign an opt-out form. But the DOE says only one to two percent of parents do that.
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