Over the objections of about 100 opponents, the Baltimore school board endorsed last night the city's plan to let individual schools decide whether to offer Norplant.
Reading a statement, President Phillip H. Farfel said the board supports school-based health clinics, where the contraceptive is to be offered, and the "activities and programs of these clinics." Dr. Farfell urged Norplant opponents to take questions or concerns to the Baltimore Health Department.
The board's support is symbolic, since the clinics, though housed in schools, are operated by the Health Department. Education officials say that neither the central school administration nor the board has any say over the plan to offer Norplant.
Opponents called for more education to reduce teen pregnancy instead of Norplant, which consists of six capsules that are inserted into an arm and slowly release a contraceptive hormone for five years.
After reviewing the cases of nine students who received Norplant in a four-month pilot program at the Laurence Paquin School for students who are pregnant or have recently given birth, Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson suggested introducing Norplant at clinics in five other high schools: Southern, Walbrook, Patterson, Dunbar and Southwestern. Walbrook and Southwestern are set to make Norplant available this fall.