Emergency contraceptive program in NY schools expanding

September 23, 2012 8:32:28 PM PDT
Over 2,200 NYC residents become mothers by age 17.

Hundreds of students used the emergency contraception during last year's pilot program in five schools. Now it is expanding.

Contraception supplied in New York City public high schools is nothing new - the department has handed out condoms for years.

However, now a new and broader approach, for the first time, the morning after pill is available to students.

The pill can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.

Most parents who Eyewitness News spoke to at one of the schools included in the program, Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, say this encourages careless sex.

"They're in high school, it is not right," said Midtown resident Robby Carter.

"Condoms protect you. The morning after pill promotes unprotected sex," said Jody Wilson.

Others say it's a necessary tool to battle the teen pregnancy epidemic.

"It's coed. Society now has changed. Kids are more open," said Crowne Heights resident Julie Brown.

Under the Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health program or "CATCH", girls can get the emergency contraception and other oral or injectable birth control without telling their parents - unless parents opt out.

The Health Department oversees the program. A spokesperson explained.

In New York City, more than 7,000 girls get pregnant by the age of 17. 90 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned, and 64 percent of these pregnancies are terminated.

Candace Smith says she was a pregnant teen - she finished high school, and her daughter Iana is now 3 years old.

"Parents should be involved. They need to watch their kids," Smith adds.

Plan B is typically sold as an over-the-counter medication, but those under age 18 need a prescription.

Parents may bar their kids from getting pregnancy tests or contraceptives if they sign and return an opt-out statement.

If they do not, schools can confidentially give the contraception without permission.

An average of 1 to 2 percent of parents at each school have returned the opt-out sheets,

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