The Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare (Catch) pilot program in New York City that allows high school students to receive morning-after pills and contraceptives at school has received little opposition from parents. The program began in January 2011 as an expansion of a similar program run by privately operated school-based health centers around the city. The program started with five schools and was later expanded to 14, but is down to 13 this year. Catch uses health department doctors and school nurses. About one to two percent of parents completed the form to opt out of the program. The form provided parents with the ability to select from four types of reproductive services that parents did not want their child to receive. The private programs do not require parental consent, and a child whose parents opted out of the city-run program could go to any community or school-based health center run by a private organization to obtain contraception.
In the 2011–12 school year, 567 students received emergency contraception and 580 received birth control pills. This number excludes the students who were referred outside of the program for other services. Health officials are not yet able to determine if the program is effective in reducing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
New York is among 21 states and the District of Columbia that provides minors access to contraceptives according to the Guttmacher Institute, but a court decision in the 1990s required some type of parental notification and the parental right to opt out at school.
Greg Pfundstein, executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, an antiabortion group in New York, questioned whether parents were really giving informed consent and cited a 2010 British study that suggested that “the increased availability of emergency contraception caused an increase in sexually risky behavior among some teenagers.”
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