The controversial abortion and contraceptive provider Planned Parenthood has set up a clinic on a Los Angeles high school campus to provide free and confidential access to birth control, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, counseling and pregnancy tests to teenage girls. Parental consent is not needed.
The collaboration between Planned Parenthood and the Los Angeles Unified School District is the first of its kind in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times. Family PACT, a family planning program that targets low-income families, pays for the clinic’s services.
Rates of unplanned teen pregnancies statewide have decreased in recent years, hitting a record low in 2010 at 29 births for every 1,000 teenagers age 15-19, compared with 37 in 2005.
But a low-income and Latino neighborhood called Boyle Heights has more teen mothers than most other California counties, a statistic the school district hopes to change.
Planned Parenthood Los Angeles executive director Sue Dunlap told the Times that the families generally have not complained about the clinic, but want access to the services.
“We really don’t experience the traditional narrative of angry parents not wanting access to reproductive care in the schools,” Dunlap said. “It’s really the opposite.”
The health clinic at Roosevelt High School is separate from the school nurse’s office and has met primary care needs like physicals, immunizations and reproductive health services since 1997. A local hospital provided the clinic with free contraceptives until 2006.
This year, about half of the clinic’s visits have been for reproductive health.
Nurse Practitioner Sherry Medrano told the Times she saw 32 pregnancies from March to June in 2008 and only three in 2009, the year she reached out to Planned Parenthood. The clinic saw about 10 pregnancies this year.
Planned Parenthood also trains Roosevelt students to market its services to their peers by talking to them about sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid getting pregnant.