NYC schools give free morning-after pills to students - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

NYC schools give free morning-after pills to students without parental consent

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NYC schools are providing free emergency contraception to high school students. NYC schools are providing free emergency contraception to high school students.

NEW YORK (RNN) - A program in New York City public schools is allowing students to receive free morning-after pills and other birth control medication - and parents might not know about it.

The program, Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health (CATCH), is the first of its kind in the nation. According to the New York Post, the National Association of School Nurses says no other school district in the country gives students free access to emergency contraception.

Parents might be unaware their kids are participating in CATCH because students at 13 participating schools are given an opt-out letter that parents have to sign and return.

But if the form is not returned, students are automatically enrolled and can be given emergency contraception without parental consent.

The New York City Department of Education says only 1 to 2 percent of parents opted their kids out, reported the Post.

The pilot program intially began with five schools in early 2011, and expanded to 14 schools. One school has since withdrawn from the program.

Although many parents might not be pleased about their kids getting free emergency contraception at school without their knowledge, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said parental consent should not be required.

"I think that it is correct to not have parental notification," Quinn told WCBS 880. "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."

Despite the moral dilemmas over parental consent, the city has been doing what it can to reduce teen pregnancy in its schools.

Condoms have been available for free in public high schools for several years. And in 2011, the city made sex-education classes that taught how to put on a condom a mandatory class in high schools, as well as middle schools.

The effort appears to have worked. According to the city's statistics, teen pregnancies have decreased every year since 2000.

But teen pregnancy rates remain high in the city's poorer neighborhoods, and because the majority of the 13 schools enrolled in CATCH are in low-income areas, the new program could act as a way to reduce that number with free emergency contraception pills.

The cost of a Plan B dose can cost as much as $50.

According to the Department of Health's website, "teens in high-poverty neighborhoods are three times more likely to become pregnant than teens in low-poverty neighborhoods."

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