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Are New York City parents opting out of parenting?


The web has been buzzing about a story that appeared in Sunday's New York Post about the New York City Department of Education's program that provides "free" morning-after pills (known as "Plan B") and Depo-Provera, an injected birth control drug, to high school girls at 13 more schools. (According to the Associated Press, the little-known program was already established in about 40 city schools that had health clinics.)

The purported goal of the CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health) pilot program is to reduce pregnancy among teenagers. According to city officials, about 7,000 girls under age 17 get pregnant every year, and half choose to kill their babies. I guess that partly accounts for why New York City is the abortion capital of America.

The morning-after drug supposedly is different from RU-468, which induces abortion. Morning-after pills delay or inhibit ovulation, prevent fertilization, or in some cases, prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Some consider the latter an abortion.

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The same New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that banned the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces prescribes oral and injectible birth control drugs to minors. Girls can ingest a taxpayer-funded contraceptive, and take it without parental notification, but they can't buy a 32-ounce sugary drink to wash it down.

Parents can opt out of CATCH, but I suspect the girl and the school can get around that nuisance. Either the school district has taken in loco parentis too far, or parents in the city have opted out of parenting. Can both be true at the same time? The obvious question CATCH raises is, who or what gives the government the authority to hand out "free" hormonal contraceptives to minors? Perhaps the most important question: Is the government compensating for slack parenting or interfering with parenting?

So far, an average of 1 to 2 percent of parents at each participating school have opted out, according to the news story. (One parent quoted in the Post said she hadn't received an opt-out letter.) Does this mean the overwhelming majority of parents approve of the program? Have these parents essentially abdicated their duty to guide, to teach, to discipline—to parent—their children? It appears that most parents at these schools are fine with the government taking over their responsibilities.

I wonder what the parents of these children quoted in the article think: "I don't want to be a young kid who gets pregnant and can't find a job," and, "I would go to the nurse without telling my parents, and I would ask for help."

There is only one guaranteed way to avoid being a "young kid who gets pregnant." It's a tried-and-true, age-old method that has prevented many an unwanted pregnancy. These days, it's downright quaint: Don't have sex.

The government can do worse than give children birth control without parental consent. For example, allow 15-year-olds to undergo "free" sterilization without parental consent. With parental abdication and an eroding moral basis upon which to encourage children to abstain from sex until marriage, this is what's left.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications


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