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The Baltimore Sun

Youth access to contraception

The news that schools in Portland, Maine, will allow their health clinics to dispense birth control pills to middle schoolers without parental permission generated enough national buzz to make the Today show.

Here in Baltimore, we've been giving out birth control at school-based health centers for more than 20 years. In 1993, we created international news with our program to give girls Norplant. 

In our article today, medical reporter Stephanie Desmon and I look back at the history of dispensing birth control to Maryland kids, and the effects. The state's law that allows minors access to contraception without parental consent is credited with a big drop in births to teen mothers, especially in Baltimore. But some parents and activists feel strongly that the law is wrong, as are policies such as Portland's. If middle schoolers are having sex, the critics say, there are bigger problems that adults need to know about.

Which side of the fence do you stand on? Does the benefit of preventing a pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease outweigh a parent's right to make medical decisions for a child?

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