Sixth Grade Contraception

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.

The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There are no national figures on how many middle schools, where most students range in age from 11 to 13, provide such services. [source]

There is an excellent discussion about this story underway at the Crunchy Con blog. I've never seen so many people from all political and religious viewpoints agree on anything like the do on this. The consensus: it is a monumentally stupid idea.

Set aside for a moment the question of whether schools should be in the business of enabling or encouraging, however tacitly, sexual activity by middle school students. The plan is medically dangerous.

Students treated at the centers must first get written parental permission, but under state law such treatment is confidential, and students decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive.

It is a small comfort that parental permission is required, though I wonder how closely the clinic workers will scrutinize whatever signatures or forms the kids bring from home. Nevertheless, exactly how feasible is it to expect an 11-13 year old to provide accurate medical information to the clinic?

Birth control pills and patches are prescription medicines. They have risks, side effects, interactions with other medications. You can overdose on them. They have to taken on a precise schedule in order to work. Yet "students decide for themselves" whether to tell their parents about any medicines they receive. Any parent who lets their kid go to this clinic, as well as any physician or nurse who works there, is taking a huge risk.

The very same public schools that are terrified a kid with a headache might take a Tylenol are now happy to administer birth control pills. The logic behind this escapes me. We know that school-administered sex education isn't preventing sexually transmitted diseases, even as the states outlaw the one technique that actually is effective: abstinence. Is there a method to this madness?

I can only think of one thing that fits: school administrators (and the parents who cooperate with them) must want the kids to be sexually active, as early and often as possible, and are willing to risk medical complications in order to achieve this. The plan in Maine makes perfect sense if that is their motivation. So far, they seem to be succeeding.

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