BALTIMORE's Norplant consortium has drawn national...

salmagundi

December 18, 1992

BALTIMORE's Norplant consortium has drawn national attention, including a front-page story in the New York Times. Last Monday, the Times printed the following editorial, headlined "Baltimore's Lead in Contraception":

"A girl who grows up in Baltimore, Md., has all too strong a chance of becoming a mother before she reaches adulthood. In 1990, one in 10 of the city's 15- to 17-year-olds gave birth.

"So it was welcome news two years ago when contraceptives became available at health clinics in . . . six high schools and two middle schools. Although Maryland law allows youngsters to receive birth control devices without an adult's permission, 95 percent of the students OK'd the schools' request to talk to parents.

"Next month students at the Laurence Paquin School for girls who are pregnant or already mothers will have another choice of contraceptive -- the long-lasting Norplant. A consortium of hospitals, doctors, clinics and a foundation supported by the mayor of Baltimore, hopes to make Norplant available in all eight school clinics. . .

"A young woman using Norplant doesn't have to worry about getting pregnant; but she must . . . worry about sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. So the consortium is also stressing that there's no safe sex without condoms.

"While Baltimore's Health Department and school system will continue to stress abstinence as the safest route for youngsters, they're also being common-sensical. 'We have to deal with the reality that in the Baltimore school system three-quarters or more of the students are sexually active,' said Dr. Peter Beilenson, the city Health Commissioner.

"That so many children are sexually active so soon is sad -- but not as sad as motherhood at 13 or dying of AIDS at 18. The Baltimore initiative is brave, and quite possibly a life-saver."

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