National Partnership for Women & Families

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Voters To Weigh Future of Contraceptive Distribution Program at Mass. High School

Voters To Weigh Future of Contraceptive Distribution Program at Mass. High School

September 17, 2009 — The Revere, Mass., Election Commission has approved a proposal to place a question on the November ballot asking whether the city should temporarily suspend a program allowing contraceptives to be made available at the high school health center, the Revere Journal reports. The health center's Family Choice Contraception Program requires parents of high school students to opt in. The health center is operated by Massachusetts General Hospital and housed on the same property as Revere High School. The Revere School Committee approved the new policy in February in response to rising teen pregnancy rates.

Local parents opposed to the program collected slightly more than the 1,875 signatures required to place the question on the November ballot. The ballot question does not address whether the program should be terminated but whether it should be suspended pending further discussion by an advisory council. The question asks whether the School Committee should "temporarily suspend the distribution of contraception and Plan B (known as the 'Morning After Pill') at Revere High School and form an advisory council that includes parents and others pursuant to the Massachusetts General Laws to evaluate the health risks and benefits of both contraception and abstinence. Such council shall submit recommendations to the School Committee for consideration prior to their deciding whether to lift the suspension."

Prior to the program's inception, students seeking contraceptives from the health center were directed to two other locations in the city, the Journal reports. Opponents of the program cite moral objections to the availability of contraception on high school property, as well as complaints about the way the program was approved. According to the Journal, the School Committee approved the program without listing the matter on its meeting agenda.

School Superintendant Paul Dakin said that parents who oppose the program need not participate in it. "Clearly, it's a Catholic issue for them," he said of the opponents, adding, "I don't see where the church has the right to dictate what decisions a parent, doctor and kid makes about health" (Daniel, Revere Journal, 9/12).