Friday, October 5, 2012


Some Bronx pols want to reign in controversial city program offering morning-after pill to school girls 

But City Councilwoman Annabel Palma says she empathizes with pregnant teens

Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012, 6:00 AM










City Councilwoman Annabel Palma

James Monroe Adams IV/for New York Daily News

City Councilwoman Annabel Palma

Male Bronx politicians are drafting state legislation that would reign in a controversial city program offering the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14 in public schools.
But a female Bronx pol who became pregnant during high school is defending the program now underway at 13 sites, including Adlai E. Stevenson and Grace Dodge in the Bronx.
"I put myself in the shoes of the teenagers who are going through this," City Councilwoman Annabel Palma told the Daily News. "I became pregnant with my son when I was a senior in high school and I would have welcomed the opportunity to access care."
City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, a pro-life pastor who previously worked as a public school counselor, was "baffled and disturbed" about the program.
Cabrera, state Sen. Ruben Diaz and state Assemblyman Marcos Crespo object to it because it allows girls to access Plan B unless their parents "opt out" of the program after receiving information.
They don't trust the school system to notify parents and want the state legislature to pass a law forcing the Bloomberg administration to give parents more control by making the program an "opt in" proposition. Albany has control over the issue because the school system operates under mayoral control.
"Students can't get an aspirin at school without parental consent," said Cabrera, who plans to introduce a City Council resolution this month. "They can't go to the Bronx Zoo on a field trip without parental consent.
"The parent should make the choice about whether the child should be able to receive the pill at school."
The morning-after pill has been available to students at dozens of high schools for several years via private health clinics in the schools, and girls can access emergency contraception at clinics such as Planned Parenthood.
But the Bloomberg administration has expanded the program over the last year to 13 additional high schools where the pill is prescribed by city Health Department doctors and dispensed by school nurses.
The national pregnancy rate for girls between 15 and 19 was about 70 in 1,000 in 2008, while the Bronx rate was 86 from 2008 to 2010, with some neighborhoods topping 110.
Plan B is about 90 percent effective at preventing pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Last school year, 576 girls at schools with the program received pills, with just 1 to 2 percent of parents opting out.
Crespo believes the program proves that Mayor Bloomberg is running the city as a "nanny state" and Diaz, a Pentecostal pastor, called it "an abuse of government power."
But Palma said she supports the "opt out" policy, saying, “I was too afraid to talk to my mother. I'm not arguing that teenagers shouldn't have that dialogue with their parents. But sometimes those relationships just don't exist."
dbeekman@nydailynews.com
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