My friend and brother bishop, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn, joins me in this blog post.
The public schools of the City of New York have announced that they are providing so-called “emergency contraception” and long-term contraceptive injections to high school students as young as 14 years old. This policy of dispensing of powerful medicines to young women — without their parents’ knowledge and consent — is tragic and misguided.
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. 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. 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.
It has been shown by years of experience that contraceptives are not the solution to the problem of teen sexual activity. Studies show that increased availability of contraception fails to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy and 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.
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.