Not So Informed Consent?

NYC schools give birth control without parents’ consent

September 24, 2012

Joyce Slaton
posted: September 24, 2012, 7:01 am

The New York Post reported today that in 13 New York high schools, nurses can give out “Plan B” morning-after pills and “other oral or injectable birth control” to girls without asking, or telling, their parents.

The no-holds-barred dispensing is part of an program called CATCH — Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health. NYC’s Department of Health hopes to counteract teen pregnancy, which disproportionately affects poor girls and often causes them to drop out of school, continuing the poverty cycle. Last year, reports the Post, 567 students received Plan B, and 580 students received Reclipsen birth-control pills. This fall, girls will also be able to get Depo-Provera injections every three months.

Now, before the top of your head blows off with fury, you should know that parents were informed about CATCH. Letters were sent home informing parents what the program would do, and parents were given the option to sign and return opt-out statements that would keep their kids from using the program. About 1 to 2 percent of parents in each school did so, a Department of Health spokesperson told the Post. If parents did not send an opt-out letter, however, the schools can issue Plan B and birth control without notifying parents.

If you’re having conflicting thoughts while reading this, you’re not alone. On one hand, preventing teen pregnancy is good, right? Babies who have babies and then drop out of school may be severely limiting how well they can do in life, and by extension, limiting their offspring.

And yet. Look at some of the risks of Plan B, Reclipsen and Depo. Pretty sobering stuff. WARNING: LOSS OF BONE MINERAL DENSITY trumpets the Depo warning at the very top, before going on to note that “It is unknown if use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection during adolescence or early adulthood, a critical period of bone accretion, will reduce peak bone mass and increase the risk for osteoporotic fracture in later life.” Huh, great!

What about the risks of Reclipsen? Oh, it can cause, contribute to or interact badly with depression, cancer, blood clots, heart disease, diabetes. Plan B precautions, whatchoo got? Oh, weird bleeding and ectopic pregnancies! Good stuff.

Yeah, please pass all that out to my daughter, without asking! Thanks! Wait, no, don’t do that. Please ask me first. Or let me know she needs them and I’ll take her to the doctor myself and figure out between the three of us what she needs.

But then, I’m a privileged mom, with a family doctor and good medical insurance and worldly views on sex and pregnancy. If she came to me pregnant or needing birth control, I wouldn’t beat her or toss her out or do whatever other horrible things people do to their own progeny. She’s lucky, I’m lucky; we have advantages that maybe some of those kids taking a pill or a shot from what sounds kinda like a candy dish at the nurse’s office don’t have.

Are the parents really informed, I wonder? We certainly manage to miss papers from our daughter’s school; there’s always a blizzard of forms and flyers and notices. Do the CATCH papers come in an envelope, in the mail, all on their own? Or are they stuck in the kids’ homework folders, where a harried parent might easily miss them?

Since I’m not doing very well making a coherent point, I’ll throw it out to you. Would you mind your child getting Plan B or birth control without your permission? Do you mind somebody else’s kid getting birth control without Mom and Dad in on it?



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