Updated 09/24/2012 10:07 AM
Health Dept: Some City High Schools Provide "Plan B" Pills To Students
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The Department of Health confirmed Sunday that it has been distributing "Plan B" emergency contraception and hormonal birth control to some high school girls since January 2011.
Health and education officials say the pilot program, called CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health), allows underage students to receive prescriptions for the oral and injectable birth control from Health Department doctors.
Under the program, which began with five public high schools but has since expanded to 13, students can tell their school nurse if they have had unprotected sex within the last three days.
A pregnancy test is done and if the result is negative, students are given a prescription, and the pill.
At pharmacies, those over 18 years of age can buy it without a prescription.
Parents can sign a statement if they want to ban their children from the program. Otherwise, schools can hand out the medication without parents' permission.
Reaction among students is mixed.
"I think that it's like encouraging kids to go out have sex. Because - they know if something does happen and they end up pregnant they know they'll have Plan B for free," said one student.
"I don't think people should take it the wrong way as encouraging it. I think it's more of a way to prevent it," said another student.
Education officials defend the program, saying they are committed to trying new approaches to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Over 7,000 teenage girls in the city become pregnant by age 17, according to the DOH, and 90 percent of those pregnancies are unplanned.
It's unclear whether the DOE plans on expanding the pilot program to all city public schools.