Plan B is getting a lot more play at New York City public schools than was initially reported, according to internal records obtained by the New York Post.
While the city announced its plan to distribute the "morning-after pill" to female students at 13 public schools in September, the program has since spread to at least 40 "school-based health centers." During the 2011-2012 school year, 12,721 doses of Plan B were handed out to students as young as 14, the New York Posts reports.
The numbers are surprising, since city officials said only 567 girls had received the emergency contraceptive as of September, according to the report.
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However, as CBS New York notes, the data suggests that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration -- the driving force behind the program -- has downplayed the amount of birth control being distributed in New York City public schools.
In fact, the press surrounding the birth control initiative has been relatively quiet from the get-go. The pilot program, Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health (CATCH), made national headlines in September thanks to a New York Post exclusive, however it was first rolled out at five public schools as early as January 2011, the Daily Beast notes.
Although parents were informed about the program from the beginning, according to Reuters, opposition did not grow until the plan was publicized in September.
Following the program's widespread publicity, parents and religious groups spoke out against schools distributing birth control to minors without parental permission. New York State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, a Democrat who represents an area of the South Bronx, also called on Bloomberg to kill the program in an open letter.
Despite criticism, Plan B and birth control handouts may be a contributing factor in the city's decreased rate of teen pregnancy, according to report released by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Sunday. Health Commissioner Tom Farley attributed the 27 percent plunge in teen pregnancy over the past decade to two things: increased use of contraceptives and teens delaying sexual activity.
The data shows "that when you make condoms and contraception available to teens, they don’t increase their likelihood of being sexually active. But they get the message that sex is risky," Farley told the New York Daily News.
While school districts in other states have initiated similar contraceptive programs, such as installing condom dispensers in bathrooms, CATCH is one of the first programs in the nation to give public school students access to birth control and emergency contraceptives like Plan B. Public schools in New York City also make free condoms readily available to students in grades nine through 12.