Maine middle schoolers to be provided birth control at school


A school board in Portland, Maine has approved a proposal to provide middle-schoolers at one city school with contraceptive pills and patches, reports.

The proposal, passed by a 5-2 vote, would supply contraceptives to students in grades six through eight who have parental permission to be treated at the middle school health center.

Diane Miller, who said she has worked as a school nurse in another district for eight years, called the proposal "tragic" and asked "What would God have us do?"

Miller said the plan gives children an adult responsibility they are not ready for, and puts them at risk from sexually transmitted disease and emotional problems.  "I just don't know how we can even look at this and consider it," she said.

Another speaker, a former middle school teacher, voiced concerns about the rights of parents and the cancer risk young girls face from early use of contraceptives.  "You all are going to be responsible for the devastating effects on young women when this goes through," he said.

Supporters of the measure cited concerns about children whose parents are irresponsible or uninvolved.

The school's health center has provided condoms to students since 2002.  Birth control prescriptions will be given to students after a physical examination by a physician or a nurse practitioner.  Students must have written permission to be treated at the center, but state law requires such treatment to be confidential.  Five of the 134 students who used the center in the last school year reported having sexual intercourse.

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