The School Committee voted unanimously last night to allow contraceptives to be distributed at the high school after a report of a pregnancy pact pushed Gloucester into the spotlight earlier this year.
-- From "Gloucester OK's contraceptives" by Jeannie M. Nuss, Boston Globe Correspondent 10/9/08
Gloucester made national headlines in June when Time magazine reported that several teenagers entered into a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.
Although Mayor Carolyn Kirk said the pact did not exist, the controversy pushed the School Committee into a series of debates about the merits of providing contraceptives at the school's health clinic.
School Superintendent Christopher Farmer agreed with last night's decision.
"People are increasingly realizing the lives of adolescents now are very complex," he said. "We have a significant number of teenagers who are sexually active."
"The parents need to be mindful of their obligation to their children," said Val Gilman, secretary of the committee.
Dr. Lauren Smith, medical director for the state Department of Public Health, said the city's teen birth rate declined from 45.7 per 1,000 residents in 1990 to 21.1 in 2006, almost the same as the state rate of 21.3.
[Let's take the advice of the children:]
"I'm happy about it," Pam Tobey, a 16-year-old junior and the secretary of the Student Advisory Council, said last night. "This is what everyone wanted. It's a big issue. I do think the majority [of students] would want it, but there should be limits - age, routine check-ups."
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