.- The bishop of Portland, Maine has responded to the controversy over the Portland School Committee's decision to provide contraceptives to children as young as eleven at a public middle school's health clinic.
Bishop Richard J. Malone voiced his sympathy for parents who expressed "outrage and disbelief" at the committee's decision. He lamented the contradictory messages students were receiving from parents and school officials for causing confusion and difficulty among children.
He attacked the decision as flawed on many levels. "It communicates to young people that adults have given up on forming young people in virtues like chastity. It promotes a purely pragmatic response to the moral problem of sexual activity by young people," he said.
Bishop Malone further criticized the new policy as an infringement upon the rights of parents. He called for parents to make their opposition known to the school committee, and he urged the committee to rescind its decision.
Contraceptive access will require initial parental permission to use the health clinic, but parents will not be notified if their children request contraceptives. Area high schools have offered oral contraceptives for years.