by Dan Hausle
The school committee voted seven to two to allow a Middle School health center in Portland, Maine to give birth control pills to girls as young as 11 years old, but not without a spirited debate.
Diane Miller, who opposes the measure, said "I am just horrified at the suggestion. We are talking possibly 11 years of age. this is tragic."
Pat Patterson, the Health Center Director, said "it has been shown over and over again that this does not increase sexual behavior. In some studies it has been shown to actually, slightly diminish sexual activity."
Mary Ibrahim, who opposes the measure, said "this isn't saying ok, no. They don't think it's ok, because we offer it to them easily. Yes they do."
The nurses said most middle school girls looking for birth control are actually 14 or 15.
But the hang-up here for most, both for and against, is the real possibility that parents would never be notified.
Ilia Alham, who opposes the measure, said "if I find, I'm giving these kids for adoption to these people that I don't know who the hell they are."
Peter Doyle, who opposes the measure, said "this is really a violation of the parents rights that they have the constitutional, fundamental right to direct the education of their children."
Lori Gramlich, who voted for the measure, said "while I struggled with the parental consent piece, I feel it's in the best interest for all of our children. Particularly those who may not have as solid as a relationship or do not feel comfortable going to their parents for whatever reason."
Condoms have been available at the King Middle School student health center since 2002 for students with parental permission.