Ready access to Plan B pills in NYC schools

Monday, July 15, 2013

She was only 16, with big dreams — too young, she thought, to have a baby. Yet she had had sex without protection, and she could see those dreams evaporating. Terrified, she found her way to the basement of her school, Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, where the nurse’s office was tucked away.

First the nurse weighed her and checked her blood pressure. Then she relayed the information to a doctor and made sure it was all right to give the girl Plan B One-Step, the morning-after pill. The nurse checked to see if the girl’s parents had returned the opt-out form that was supposed to have gone home at the beginning of the year. They had not, so she was free to take the pill.

Taking a pill out of a locked cabinet, the nurse handed it over with a cup of water and waited for her to swallow it, the girl recalled. After that first time, the girl took Plan B at school two or three more times. She said her mother had not signed the opt-out form, because she had wanted to have sex and so had never given it to her. “My mom, she doesn’t even know they have this stuff,” the girl, a junior from Coney Island, said.

Last month, the Obama administration seemingly changed the landscape of access to emergency contraception across the country when, in a reversal, it agreed to allow the best-known pill, Plan B One-Step, to become available to all ages without a prescription. Until recently, only those 17 and older could buy it over the counter.

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