Sue Dunlap, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, said the program will help address mental and behavioral health issues, substance use, and "lack of knowledge around sexual health" that can "create barriers to academic success."
However, Sister Paula Vandegaer, S.S.S., a licensed clinical social worker who has counseled women for about 40 years, disagreed that the sex education offered by Planned Parenthood is forming teens for success.
Vandegaer is the founder of Volunteers for Life, a Los Angeles-based organization that describes itself as a "pro-life volunteer corps." Its work includes counseling and support for women in crisis pregnancies and work with unwed mothers.
She suggested that teens need help to pursue important questions about their lives. Education must be about more than "do what you want" or "follow your feelings," she said.
"What are my ideals? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to be like? What are my values? What do I stand for? These are the questions that young people should be able to shape and form," she told CNA. "This is what I don't think Planned Parenthood forms."
Citing her experience in marital counseling, Vandegaer warned that helping teens learn self-discipline in sexual matters and relationships is vital for future relationships and marriage.
Vandegaer is not confident the Planned Parenthood centers will support pregnant teens. Planned Parenthood is the largest performers of abortions in the United States. In 2016, the organization performed about one out of every three abortions.
"They will be offered abortions," she said. "I don't think they will receive adequate pregnancy counseling like we do in the pro-life pregnancy centers."
"Pregnancy centers have time to talk with the girls through alternatives, help her to calm her fears, help her to know what her own values are, help her to promote good values, confidence in herself as a mother, help her to be a good mother," she continued. "There's ongoing counseling and ongoing help for the girl: financial and educational and emotional and physical."
Such support is not going to happen in the school-based Planned Parenthood health centers, she suggested. There, a pregnant teen "won't have adequate knowledge of what she can do if she has her baby and the help that's available to her."
Vandegaer told CNA that the California ban on "abstinence-only" education ends up promoting "abortion and contraceptives as the answer to teenage pregnancy."
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Los Angeles public schools are already offering abortion referrals. Domingo noted that while Planned Parenthood says its school centers won't offer abortions, this likely does not acknowledge the properties of some drugs like Plan B that can cause abortions.
She also questioned whether separating students' health and sexual education from the context of their families is in their best interests.
"We have traditionally felt that parents know their children best and advocate for their child's health and safety," she said.
California law allows minors to consent to receiving birth control or mental health counseling. Health care providers are not allowed to inform parents without the minors' permission.
Domingo pointed to alternatives like the Culture Project, which has worked in the Los Angeles archdiocese for the last five years to send young adult missionaries to Catholic schools and parishes to work with students in religious education.
"It's really a very different message," Domingo said. "It's the message of human dignity, understanding yourself, understanding the gift that you are, understanding the gift of your life and the gift of body, and understanding the integrity of that: what it all means, what it's all for, and how to respect that in context."