In an effort to combat teenage pregnancy, the New York City Department of Health has launched a new program that would provide emergency contraception for high school students. Under the citywide health initiative CATCH — Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health — schools are supplied with Plan B, the so-called Morning After pill, to give to students who ask for it.
The initiative has already been implemented in 13 schools throughout the city, including Grace Dodge in The Bronx; Abraham Lincoln and Paul Robeson in Brooklyn; and Port Richmond on Staten Island, according to the New York Post. Pilot programs ran at five schools last year. During the pilot, 567 students received Plan B tablets and 580 students received Reclipsen birth-control pills, Gothamist reports.
The pills can be given to students ages 14 and older if they go to the nurse. Under the CATCH program, students can tell a school nurse that she had unprotected sex. The student then undergoes a test to see if she is already pregnant. If not, Plan B is administered, according to the Post. Parents who do not want to be involved in the program can fill out and return an opt-out sheet. An average 1 to 2 percent of parents at each school have returned the opt-out sheets, said NYC Department of Health spokeswoman Alexandra Waldhorn.
Some parents and students oppose the initiative. One 15-year-old student says that she thinks parents should be involved if their kids are taking pills. However, many people applaud the DOE’s efforts and think that the program is necessary. “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,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told WCBS 880.
By Tatiana Baez
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