A Portland, Maine, middle school stirred controversy last night when its board voted 5-2 to make birth control pills and patches available for its pupils, typically between 11 and 13 years old. The move was prompted by the school nurse's claim that five of 134 students treated by the health center last year were sexually active, the AP reports. Opponents cited religious and health concerns.
Students need parental permission to visit the health center and must undergo a physical, but all treatment is confidential. Condoms have been offered there since 2002, as in many schools, but it’s “very rare” for a middle school to offer oral contraceptives, one expert said. About 25% of national student health centers that serve ages 11 or older provide some form of contraception.