With dozens of forms NYC parents have to fill out the beginning of the school year, one came as a surprise. It is for CATCH- Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health, a pilot program set out to distribute free prescription contraceptives, including birth control pills and the morning-after pill, to students at public high schools in the city.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is supporting the program, which allows the students to receive contraceptives without parental consent. The city estimates that over 7000 girls get pregnant by the age of 17, and more than half choose to get an abortion. The Department of Education launched a program last year allowing nurses in 13 public schools to provide the morning after pill (Plan B) to students as young as 14.
Romy Fabal, a staff nurse from the CCNY Student Health Services, feels that the program is necessary, especially in inner city schools where students may not be able to afford the morning after pill. “I’m glad the services are there,” she says. “As long as the students continue to be educated in sexual health, Plan B is an essential aspect of it.”
Fabal adds, “They need to know there are options available for them, and that they are not alone.”
CCNY students agree. “I had my son when I was 14,” explains Kandi Johnson, 26, an undergrad. “If I had that option I would have definitely taken it.”
Other students fear that the availability of Plan B will promote the girls to use it as contraceptive, not an emergency plan. “I don’t agree with it because it’s promoting unprotected sex,” explains Tattyana Carrington, 21, “The students will feel that it’s fine to do it because if you take a pill you’ll be good.”
“It should be up to the parents,” Carrington continues, “School is not a place for that.”
With the parent’s ability to opt their daughters out of the program, some are outraged with Bloomberg’s approval. Even though only 1 to 2 percent opt out of it, according to city’s Board of Health.
Fabal has a different view on the situation. “Parents are saying that Bloomberg is corrupting their children,” she says. “Honey, your children are already corrupted. This is here to help.”