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School Board OKs Birth Control for Middle Schoolers

School board members in Portland, Maine, approved a city plan last night to make prescription birth control available to students at one if its middle schools.

Portland School Committee member Lori Gramlich who voted in favor of the measure, says it was a hard decision to support the program. She says she particularly struggled with the part of the program that allows the conversations students have with health center staff to remain private.

However, the students — who range in age from 11 to 13 years old — do need their parents' permission to visit the health center.

The program was initiated in response to a spate of pregnancies in the city's middle schools.

Before the vote, Gramlich says she had a frank discussion with her daughter, a 14-year-old freshman at a Portland high school. The teenager said she knew about a number of eighth graders who have had sex, Gramlich says.

So while Gramlich believes parents need to talk to their children about sex and that abstinence is the only form of birth control that is 100 percent effective, she says the board needs to do what's necessary to stop the teen pregnancies.

Gramlich talks to Madeleine Brand about the program.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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