Lynn English High School. (Chris Fama/WBZ NewsRadio)
LYNN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — In the words of Lynn School Committee member Michael Satterwhite, "Something needed to be done."
In a packed meeting Thursday night, the committee voted unanimously to approve a proposal that would provide condoms, birth control, and emergency contraception for any Lynn Public Schools students who request them.
Satterwhite said Lynn's teen birth rate is third-highest in the Commonwealth, and three times the state's average.
"Fifty-seven teens under the age of 18 pregnant in our schools," Satterwhite said. "I think one is too much. With 12 percent on their second pregnancies."
He acknowledged the meeting and the vote was controversial. There were hours of testimony from those who were for the measure and those who were against.
"It was standing room only, it was passionate," Satterwhite said.
Soon, those contraceptive services will be available—but not before the distribution of a required consent form that spells everything out.
"I'm a parent of an 11-year-old, this would impact her," Satterwhite said. "If I got something in the mail that said, hey, we have family services and this is what we can offer them if they come, and we don't need your consent, I'm gonna speak to my kid about sex and the birth control aspect. I think that it just allows them to open up a conversation and do the research—that's what we are giving the parents with that information."
Satterwhite said students were already searching for access to the materials the measure provides.
"All we did was remove a barrier," Satterwhite said. "These students were already coming to the nurse practitioners and asking information about contraceptives and condoms, and they were just being referred to either a pharmacy or a central office on Union Street. The barrier is that they weren't connecting the dots afterward."
WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports