…Big surprise, right? New York City has seen a 27% plummet in teen pregnancies over the last decade due to expanded access to contraception, city officials say. In a controversial move, the city worked hard to make contraception, morning after pills and sexual education more readily available, even going so far as to hand out condoms at schools and have Plan B available at school clinics. Two years ago, the public school system began a pilot program to provide Plan B to public school students in districts with high rates of unintended pregnancy. While New York City still has the highest national average of unintended pregnancies, it has still fallen at a sharper rate.
The program, called CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare), provides confidential, onsite reproductive health to students in 13 public high schools across the city, launched in January 2011. The city’s health commissioner, Tom Farley, told the New York Daily News that the data shows two concurrent trends: More adolescents are choosing to use birth control, and more of them are also delaying sexual intercourse. That’s partly because New York is one of the 21 states that allows all minors to have access to contraceptive services and partly due to the Plan B pilot program.
So what exactly does this mean for those who call for the same programs and access to contraception, as well as Plan B, in their neighborhoods? Well, not much really. Even though this shows concrete evidence of how successful programs such as the one in New York can be, don’t plan on seeing it in your area any time soon. The so-called “War on Women” rages onward with bills calling for tighter restrictions on abortion and contraceptive services being introduced every day, as well as last year’s blow to reproductive choice when Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s decision to make morning after pills available without a prescription or age limit. Couple that with the defunding of Planned Parenthood and other public health clinics across the nation and we find ourselves in a state of emergency when it comes reproductive health and choice.
There is no doubt that several states in the South and Southwest, such as Mississippi, where the unintended pregnancy rate is the highest with 69 per 1,000 women, can greatly benefit from such programs. But how does one make the right-winged, Christian lawmakers see the benefits of such programs when Mississippi is down to one abortion clinic?
Seeing that this pilot program is being dubbed as “controversial,” even in this day and age, I can’t say I have the answer. However, that does not mean I will give up the fight. Support local clinics, sign petitions, donate time or money to the organizations you stand with, blog your hearts out! With enough voices heard, we can reverse the attack on our ovaries and bring vital programs like CATCH to more high schools in America.
Do you think a program like CATCH would create positive changes in your community? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Written by Brittany Haak