A Los Angeles high school has teamed up with Planned Parenthood in an effort to combat the number of its unplanned teen pregnancies -- a unique partnership thought to be the only one of its kind, according to a profile by the Los Angeles Times.
Separate from the nurse's office, the on-campus clinic at Roosevelt High School provides free birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Roosevelt is located in L.A.'s Boyle Heights neighborhood, a low-income, heavily Latino area with a disproportionately high teen pregnancy rate.
According to the Times, the partnership has been in place for several years and has been effective:
The campus began offering contraception and counseling in 1997. But in 2006, a collaboration with a local hospital ended and the school no longer had the resources to provide free contraceptives. In 2008, [nurse practitioner Sherry] Medrano said, she saw 32 positive pregnancy tests during her peak period between March 1 and June 1 — around the time of spring break and prom.
Medrano then reached out to Planned Parenthood, which now provides a medical assistant, the contraceptives and the pregnancy and STDs testing. The organization bills Family PACT, a public program that provides family planning to low-income and uninsured California residents.
In 2009, Medrano said, she saw three pregnancies during the same time period. The numbers have since climbed to about 10. Only a few parents have complained about the program since it began, she said.
Medrano said students feel more comfortable seeking out the school-based health clinic than they would going elsewhere.
One 16-year-old student who first received emergency contraception from the clinic before returning for regular birth control told the newspaper she was relieved knowing she could get such treatment without having to tell her parents.
"Just knowing you can come somewhere to get birth control just feels good," she said. 'It's a relief."
According to the Times, Planned Parenthood also trains students at the school to be peer advisers and teach their classmates about STD and pregnancy prevention.
Still, not everyone believes the level of Planned Parenthood's involvement at the high school level is a good idea, according to KABC-TV.
"I know the birth control, obviously, it teaches girls a lot, it prevents pregnancies," Anne Hennessy, executive director of the Right to Life League of Southern California, told the station. "We would hope that the care in that part of their lives would be done in collaboration with their parents rather than through the schools."
The Times' profile of the program comes at a time when Planned Parenthood is facing increasing scrutiny and battles over public funding. Last week, the organization found itself at the center of a "gendercide" controversy when a pro-life group released a video allegedly showing a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas giving advice on how to obtain a gender-based abortion.