Back to school checklist: note books? Check. Class assignments? Check. Plan B morning-after pills? Check. Wait, what? It's true: Students as young as 14 can get birth control at 13 New York City high schools without parental consent.
Although condoms have been provided free for years, this pilot program, unpublicized for the last year, gives students access to oral contraceptives, along with the morning-after pill, which can prevent an unintended pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.
Parents can choose to fill out an opt-out form that will exclude their children from the program. Otherwise, students can get birth control from the school nurse confidentially. Prescriptions to oral and injectable birth control are written by city health department doctors. So far, only one to two percent of parents have chosen to opt their kids out of the program.
The New York Post notes that the program, called CATCH—Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health—is part of a citywide attempt to stem the tide of teen pregnancy, which leads girls—mostly poor—to drop out of school.
According to the Associated Press, about 7,000 girls get pregnant by the time they reach the age of 17. It says more than half choose to get an abortion.