"This policy of dispensing of powerful medicines to young women — without their parents’ knowledge and consent — is tragic and misguided," writes the Cardinal about the program which will allow school nurses to dispense "Plan B" and other oral or injectable birth control pills to girls without parental consent.
"Parents have the right and the responsibility to be the first and primary educators of their children. This plan usurps that role, and allows the public school system to substitute its beliefs and values for those of the parents," he writes. "It also places minors at risk, because no school system can be expected to know all the pertinent health information about their son or daughter, and be able to properly judge what is in their best interests."
Requiring parents to “opt-out” of the program is hardly adequate either, he ways.
"In New York State in recent weeks, laudable legislation has been passed and signed into law requiring explicit consent from parents if a child wants to get a piercing or a tattoo. We now also have a law on the books banning minors from using tanning salons even if the parents consent, out of concern for possible long term health risks. And, for every other medical procedure, explicit, informed consent is required. But not when these powerful drugs – with their potentially serious side effects – are involved. Then we let these young teens do what they want, without a word to their parents."
The Cardinal goes on to correctly cite years of experience and studies which show that increased availability of contraception does nothing to reduce unintended pregnancy rates or abortion.
"New York City’s government already distributes tens of millions of free condoms, and contraceptives are readily available from other sources, yet rates of teen sexual activity and pregnancies continue to be unacceptably high, and our abortion rate is a national disgrace," he says.
"Abstinence before marriage is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and disease, while also allowing minors to practice virtue and responsibility. The public schools would be better advised to promote what truly works rather than continuing to follow a failed experiment that will only lead to further problems for society and for young people."
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