Public schools in Pacific Northwest push free birth control

Public Schools
by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 7/06/15, 12:25 pm

Seattle public school Chief Sealth International, along with a few other public schools in the area, began providing and administering free IUDs to students last month. Because the device doesn’t cost them anything, students don’t have to use their parents’ medical insurance and do not need parental permission to get one. The service is provided by Neighborhood Health, which runs medical and dental clinics around Seattle, according to a glowing article by Grist. 

The original article, which changed the names of the students to protect their privacy, quoted many who said if the IUDs hadn’t been free or had required them to talk to their parents, they probably wouldn’t have gotten them. 

“I’m really independent, so I don’t really talk to my parents about any of it,” one of the girls told the reporter. “So if I would’ve had to talk to my parents about the whole birth control thing, I probably wouldn’t [have it].”

But critics point to a startling irony—Seattle has banned junk food and soda in public schools since 2004. School administrators seem to believe that while sugar is dangerous, sex can be made safe.

Many of the girls talked about going to the in-school clinic with their friends and how nurses made it easier to talk about sex. None talked about whether they felt peer pressure to make a birth control decision without guidance from their parents. 

“This activity just severs the lifelines that parents have to their kids,” said Dan Kennedy, CEO of Human Life of Washington, calling it a “lose-lose” situation for everyone.

After the clinic began providing IUDs, the University of Washington published a positive study about how the move is giving girls better access to birth control. The author of the study, Kelly Gilmore, said school-provided birth control is spreading as more clinics are capable of providing it.

Current trends suggest she's right, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. Parents in several communities have pushed back against in-school clinics trying to implement birth control programs. Earlier this month, the Gervais school district in Oregon announced it would begin providing condoms for high school, and even middle school students, in response to rising teen pregnancy rates in the state. The announcement followed closely on the heels of Oregon’s expanded sex education law, which mandates “age-appropriate human sexuality education” beginning in elementary school.

But past incidents of sex education in Oregon cast doubt on what qualifies as “age-appropriate” in the eyes of school officials. Parents were shocked earlier this year when the curriculum being taught at a taxpayer-funded sex education conference came to light. Sessions during the conference explained and even encouraged sexually deviant behavior. Parents and local organizations rallied to cancel the event, but as Lori Porter, director of Parents’ Rights in Education, told me at the time, it’s likely just the “tip of the iceberg.” 

Parents are learning she was right.

Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

Read more from this writer