CATCH Program Caught Fudging The Numbers On Students Receiving Plan B
New York, NY – It used to be passing out condoms was a controversial birth control topic. Plan B (Levonorgestrel), known informally as the morning-after pill, is being doled out in greater numbers to New York City high school girls, than previously reported. Initially officials claimed less than 600 girls had been provided with Plan B.
The morning-after pill, when used within 72 hours after sex, is intended to impede a pregnancy. Although available, the medication is highly controversial.
The city began a pilot program, Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health (CATCH), announced back in September 2012, operating in 13 area schools. It started in five schools in 2011. With the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the program offered the morning-after pill and other contraceptives to students without the necessity or consent of parents. However, the Department of Education did inform parents of the existence and purpose of the measure. The mission: bring down the otherwise escalating rate of teen pregnancy.
On average in 2012, more than 7,000 young girls in New York City were getting pregnant before the age of 17. More than half elected to undergo abortions. The rest who decide to give birth, 70 percent of those girls dropped out of high school before graduation.
The CATCH program has quietly grown from 13 schools participating to 40. During its first fiscal year, the city spent $2.7 million on the health care centers. Girls as young as 14 were given access to the morning-after pill. An estimated 12,700 doses of it were given out during the 2011-2012 school year, based on released data, by separate but similar school-based health care programs. From 2009 to 2012, close to 22,400 students sought reproductive contraceptive assistance. Students were prescribed birth control, intrauterine devices (IUDs), patches, depo-provera shots, and NuvaRings.
Mona Davids, president of the NYC Parents Union, like other parents, is shocked with the scores of students seeking and receiving Plan B.
“What gives the mayor the right to decide, without adequate notice, to give our children drugs that will impact their bodies and their psyches? He has purposely kept the public and parents in the dark with his agenda.”
Davids accuses the mayor of having an ulterior motive with the CATCH plan, as a focused population control. Her rationale is the majority of school-based health care centers participating are in poor neighborhoods with high concentrations of black and Latino students.
However, despite the rancorous criticism both the pilot program and mayor have received, it appears it may be responsible for decreasing teen pregnancy, as it is down by 27 percent in over 10 years, according to CBS New York.