Plan B comes to some New York City Public Schools

New York City’s Department of Education is launching a pilot program making the morning after pill available to high school aged girls. The CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health) program will make emergency accessible for girls as young as 14 without parental consent.

New York City’s public schools may be be the first in the nation to introduce such a program:

The National Association of School Nurses could cite no other school district supplying Plan B.

So far, during an unpublicized pilot program in five city schools last year, 567 students received Plan B tablets and 580 students received Reclipsen birth-control pills, the city Department of Health told The Post.

This fall, students can also get Depo-Provera, a birth-control drug injected once every three months, officials said.

Oral and injectable contraceptives require prescriptions, which, in the CATCH program, are written by Health Department doctors

As quietly as the news of this program is being unveiled, this is pretty massive. The launch of the program is not met without some controversy. According to the DOE, parents have been notified of the new initiative and may opt out if they choose and reports a tiny percentage of parents opted of the new program. Still, I’m curious to learn more fallout from parents and teachers. As a local, and scanning the list of schools reported to be participants in the program, I can say that these are schools in black and latino working class areas, which may have a correlation with higher rates of teen pregnancy and dropout rates in those communities. Teen pregnancies disproportionately affects communities of color and is preventable with providing services and education to sexually active teens regardless of the fact that parents believe their teens are or not. NYC high schools have free condoms available to sexually active teens for some years now. EC and birth control seem to be a logical progression in being responsive to the reproductive health of young women.

Let’s think about this development in the context of Jos’s point about sex ed in high schools. New York City estimates 7,000 teen preganancies per year, 64% of which are terminated, 2,200 become mothers by age 17 that result in a 70% dropout rate. High for New York City, but possibly low in comparison to other communities with less dense populations as New York that promote abstinence only sex education. When we talk about teen pregnancy in the national context, I fail to hear from those who promote abstinence only discuss child care, support for the mothers, and you know, the long term economic prospects of teen parents. It ultimately switches to schizophrenic talk of faith, shaming and social darwinism.

I suppose that this policy places New York City at the vanguard of public health for teens. What do you think?

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

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  • scottishtanningsecrets

    Bravo, New York Public Schools.

  • Nick

    You can lament the social darwinism aspect of the conversation if you like, but at the end of the day it is our people (Black and Latino) who are constantly being “introduced” to this sort of thing. There are a lot more white people in this country than there are people of color and it seems to me given the staggering amount of racism directed at our communities these days, what we are witnessing is nothing more than a predatory form of cultural assimilation. Keep us “poor folk from breeding” while their communities remain untouched and one or two generations later there are no more poor folk (or a lot less).

    Though I’m certain my comment will be derided for straying the conversation (amongst other things) I think one look at what has happened to Native American peoples over the last hundred years alone is enough to give credence to my point.

    • Sam Lindsay-Levine

      On the other hand, surely distributing contraceptives to sub-populations with higher rates of unwanted pregnancy, and who are less able to afford contraceptives out-of-pocket already, will be much more effective for promoting human happiness than targeting rich, privileged sub-populations with free contraceptive giveaways.

      How do you distinguish these two viewpoints, and how does your hypothesis account for the data that show that the United States’ racial makeup is becoming more, not less, racially diverse, and that this trend is expected to continue through the rest of the 21st century?

  • Alex

    YAY! Now if this were to be a standard, we’d have a lot more underprivileged young women rising to success throughout America.

  • The Antitype

    Morally I’m fine with this, I’m just starting to wonder if I was born with a special brain condition that allows me to use a goddamn condom (and double check and triple check the chick is on BC).

    I mean seriously, am I the only person in the world who has a ton of sex and has NEVER been like ‘oh fuck, get this chick some plan b’ the next morning?

  • Katherine

    I actually am PRO this. Many teenagers hold so much back when pregnancy and have no other help other than having the child. Yes, it’s their choice, whatsoever I’ve had teen pregnant friends who now are woman and I feel that there’s a little bit or resentment towards their children because in a way it has affected their teen years….therefore unless a teenager is sure she wants to be pregnant she should have it but if not then why not use a plan B, it might save at least one person from dropping out of school and having to speed her growth.

  • Jenn

    I like the idea behind this but I truly hope girls seeking assistance are being given information and the opportunity to discuss their options. BC is great for a lot of females, but it’s not without consequence and it’s not for everybody.