For more than a year now, five New York City schools have been quietly running a pilot program that makes the morning after pill available to teens over the age of 14. CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health) — believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation — enables teens to access the full range of their reproductive choices, without parental notification, in the event of unwanted pregnancy. The program recently expanded to 13 schools — and some officials are pushing to implement it citywide.
It’s a move that has been met with surprisingly little controversy. The relative peace over the often volatile subject of comprehensive sex education might be due to the dropout rate among pregnant teens in New York City. According to the Department of Health, around 7,000 girls under the age of 17 get pregnant every year. Of the 2,200 who carry those pregnancies to term, 70 percent will drop out of school. By making emergency contraceptives safely and freely available — 567 students have already been prescribed Plan B through the program — CATCH might just be able to change that.