A teenage girl can't get Coca-Cola or a candy bar at 13 Seattle public schools, but she can have her school implant a taxpayer-funded intrauterine device (IUD) without their parents' consent.
School-based health clinics in at least 13 Seattle public middle and high schools offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including IUDs and hormonal implants, to students in the sixth grade and above at no cost, according to Washington State officials.
As stated by Planned Parenthood, an IUD is simply a small, "T-shaped" device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
However, LARCs are associated with serious side effects such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.
All of this is done as part of a Medicaid program called Take Charge and a non-profit, Neighborcare. The program was initially only offered at one high school: Chief Sealth International, but the program has now expanded to at least 13 Seattle middle and high schools, according to LifeNews.com.
A Take Charge spokesperson discussed the nuances of the program in an interview with CNSNews.com, saying that underage students are eligible for a "full array of covered family planning services" at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program's requirements.
"A student who does not want their parents to know they are seeking reproductive health services is allowed to apply for Take Charge using their own income, and if they are insured under their parents' plan, the insurance would not be billed," the spokesperson added.
On top of this, a 2014 study conducted by Washington University revealed that school-based health providers often cited their lack of formal training not only in inserting or removing IUDs and contraceptive implants, but also with the procedures in general.
"It's still scary to begin putting them in," one health care provider reportedly said in an interview. "Scary meaning that we know the biggest complication risk come with the least experienced providers. So how do you take that leap and just go for it?"
So a sixth grade girl can undergo a procedure offered by an underqualified health provider that can negatively impact her health without her parents knowing? Parents will be thrilled to learn about this.