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NY School District Allows Testing Without Parental Consent

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer A New York school district is under fire for agreeing to provide students with free testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy without their parent’s consent. CBS HD 2 is reporting that the Port Chester Board of Education has decided to allow the free testing in Port Chester High School beginning this fall. "Like any other high school we have teen pregnancy so when a young lady comes down we can offer a test and guide her and refer them from that point," said Superintendent Donald K. Carlisle. Students requesting the tests will be able to receive them without needing  permission from their parents, nor will their parents be advised of test results. Debra Gerson, a physician with Open Door Family Medical Centers, the group that runs the program, claims this kind of confidentially is essential. "There are times when they don't feel safe and they really need to have a place where they can come and disclose," Dr. Gerson said. Port Chester Westmore News is reporting that although officials will not disclose pregnancy rates at the high and middle schools in Port Chester, it has been described as an “epidemic.” The most recent data available on teen pregnancy rates in Port Chester dates back to 2006 when there were 28 babies born to teen mothers. However, data from the Westchester Children’s Association from 1997 through 2005 show that about 58 percent of pregnancies for women under age 18 in Westchester County end in abortion—meaning that teen pregnancy rates are likely substantially higher than the rate of live births. The school board president, Anne Capeci, was the only member of the board to vote against the measure. "I would like 'Open Door' to use the medical facility downtown and not use the school as a quasi-maternity clinic," said Ms. Capeci. She was particularly disturbed that state law prohibits Open Door staff members to inform parents that their daughter is pregnant – regardless of the girl’s age – which leaves the door open to potential child abuse about which a parent may never learn.  “If we find out a girl is pregnant, what do we do; who do we tell?” Ms. Capeci asked during the discussion. “I just don’t think this kind of testing belongs in a high school.” But she was outvoted by board members who believe programs like this are the reality of taking care of students in today's world. "I think this is progressive and I see this as a positive," Mr. Carlisle said. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®