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Pilot Program Providing Contraception Options for Teens Expanded to 13 New York City High Schools

by Emily Ike, Research Intern

The New York Department of Education is now making emergency contraceptives and other birth control options available for high school girls ages fourteen and up in 13 schools throughout New York City. This program, CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare), originally began with 5 schools in January 2011 and has since expanded to 13 schools across the city. The schools chosen to participate in this program were selected because of a lack of health services nearby, as well as student populations known to be at higher risks for teen pregnancy.[1]

Parents were given the option to opt their children out of this program, but only 1-2% of parents chose to return the opt out form.[2] In the 2011-2012 school year, 567 students received emergency contraception, also known as Plan B, while 580 received the birth control pill, Reclipsen, through the CATCH program. Health officials note that these numbers do not reflect the number of students who were referred out for other services. With 7,000 young women in New York City pregnant before the age of 17, 90% of which are unplanned,[3] programs like CATCH hope to provide birth control options and health services to teens that may not have anywhere else to turn.

Though it is too early to tell whether this program is effective in reducing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, the city is “committed to trying new approaches…to improve a situation that can have lifelong consequences,” says Alexandra Waldhorn, a health department spokesperson.[4]

[1]Anemona Hartocollis, “More access to contraceptives in city schools”,The New York Times, (23 September 2012), accessed 24 September 2012,