By Greg Tartaglione, SIECUS Program Research Intern
The Caeser Rodney School Board in the town of Wyoming, Delaware recently struck down a proposal to provide Depo-Provera shots as a contraceptive option for students at Caeser Rodney High School. Since 2011, the school’s wellness center has been providing condoms, birth control pills, and testing for pregnancy and HIV to students with parental permission. The proposal to provide Depo-Provera, a contraceptive injection, was controversial because of issues around patient confidentiality in relation to the potential risk of long-term side-effects.
Though parents must give authorization before their children can visit the school wellness center, the center’s policy is “all-or-nothing”—that is, parental consent for specific services is considered a breach of patient confidentiality. School Board member Cheryl Precourt took issue with the fact that administering Depo-Provera would have to be reported to the state, but not to the parents of the child receiving the shot.
Precourt worried, “Depo Provera and other medications have serious side effects and… I personally do not want to be responsible for stepping over what I believe is a parent’s natural right to direct the education and wellbeing of their child.”
The Board voted 4-to-1 against making Depo-Provera available. The one vote in favor came from the retiring Board President, Kathleen Haynes,who made sure to put the proposal up for vote before leaving her position after 12 years. “I think that we should make available to our students all the options…We offer oral contraceptives. This is another form of contraceptive that may be more effective and more useful to our students,” she remarked to reporters.
Haynes proposed making Depo-Provera available so that young women at risk of forgetting to take a daily oral contraceptive would have a long-acting alternative. Wellness Center Director Gloria Shuba noted that since the shot would require users to visit the Wellness Center every three months, it would provide a good opportunity for follow up and further sexual health education. According to Shuba, 23 students (of the 1012 female students enrolled at Caesar Rodney High School) already receive oral contraceptives at the Wellness Center, and many more parents and students and parents have specifically asked for the shot. ,
Shuba told the Dover Post the story of one student who came to her asking for an alternative to the daily pill who, after missing an appointment at a local community clinic to which the Wellness Center had referred her, became pregnant later that year. “If I had [the shot] in my cupboard and offered it to her, I think we could have prevented a pregnancy,” she lamented.
Sarah Barbon, “Caesar Rodney school board nixes birth control shot for students,” Dover Post, June 19, 2014, accessed July 2, 2014 at http://www.doverpost.com/article/20140619/News/140619669.
Eleanor La Prade, “CR school board blocks offer of birth control shot,” Delaware State News, June 27, 2014, accessed July 2, 2014 at http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/132956-70/cr-school-board-blocks-offer-of-birth-control-shot.
Delaware Department of Education, Caesar Rodney High School Fall Enrollment (School Year 2014-2014, accessed July 8, 2014 at http://profiles.doe.k12.de.us/SchoolProfiles/CommonControls/Reporting.aspx?districtCode=10&schoolCode=626&dataBlock=Demographics&catBlock=StudentEnrollment&Language=English&type=CatUrl.
Barban, “Ceasar Rodney school board nixes…”