PHAI Publishes Case Study on Portland, ME School Committee’s Initiative to Provide Prescription Contraception Products to Middle School Students

PHAI documented the Portland School Committee’s 2007 vote to ratify a proposal from the King Student Health Center (“Health Center”) located at the King Middle School in Portland, ME to expand its services to provide prescription contraception to Health Center users. The proposal to offer the full range of contraceptive services at the Health Center came about after seventeen middle school-aged girls became pregnant in the City’s three middle schools over a four-year period.

The policy change drew intense and immediate scrutiny from local and national media. The American Center for Law & Justice, a public interest law firm, sent a letter to School Committee members threatening to sue the School Committee if the policy was not changed and the local prosecutor alleged that Health Center staff had not been properly complying with Maine’s mandatory reporting laws.

 The School Nurse Coordinator for Portland Public Schools, the King Middle School Principal and Health Center staff, along with supportive members of the School Committee and the community did not waiver in light of the national media attention and the legal threats made. The policy went into effect without delay or amendment and no litigation has been filed to challenge the policy.

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About Mark Gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb joined the staff of the Public Health Advocacy Institute in 1993 after graduating from Northeastern University School of Law. His efforts have focused on researching tobacco litigation as a public health strategy as director of the Tobacco Products Liability Project, reducing the harm caused by secondhand tobacco smoke through a variety of legal and policy approaches, fostering scholarship using tobacco industry documents, and, more recently, examining legal and policy approaches to address obesity. He is the Executive Director of the Institute and lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife and three children.