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Board says no to school health center contraceptives

Vote split 4-3 between males, females on Hillsboro School Board.


Five months, countless hours of public input and attempts at finding common ground failed Tuesday night as the Hillsboro School Board voted 4 to 3 to not allow contraceptives to be prescribed at the school district’s School-Based Health Center (SBHC).

Board members’ individual votes on the matter Tuesday echoed exactly what each member initially expressed in January, when the issue came to the board. Wayne Clift, Monte Akers, Glenn Miller and Erik Seligman voted against allowing birth control to be prescribed, while Lisa Allen, Kim Strelchun and Janeen Sollman voted in favor.

At that time, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center SBHC manager Lacey Beaty requested a more formal decision from the board surrounding contraceptives services at the center. When the clinic — which is located at Century High School — opened in 2013, the district had a verbal agreement with Virginia Garcia that the center would not prescribe contraceptives. The clinic staff did, and will continue to offer birth control education and counseling.

Tuesday’s school board meeting was the second consecutive standing-room only meeting in as many months, with more than 30 members of the public offering input — roughly the same number on each side of the debate.

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici sent her District Representative, Kelli Horvath to read a statement to the board in favor of offering birth control services at the clinic. “The decision the board makes tonight will have real and lasting effects on the students served by the School-Based Health Center. I urge you to adopt a policy that is consistent with Oregon law and allows students age 15 and over to access contraceptives without requiring parental notification,” Bonamici’s letter read.

“I respectfully ask you to carefully consider the effects of your decision on students and their futures. I urge you to stand up for the young women seeking to take control of their reproductive health through the best and most appropriate way, by consulting with a responsible health care provider, and stand against enacting additional barriers for those seeking contraceptives.”

Those opposed to offering contraceptives services at the SBHC offered many reasons for their opposition. Some cited studies that hormone therapy is a health risk, others said it is a parent’s right to be informed if their child seeks birth control (Oregon law allows people 15 and over to seek health care without parental consent). Still others contended a decision on whether or not to offer birth control at the clinic is not within the school board’s jurisdiction.

Mary Nolan, interim executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, drew jeers from the crowd when she talked about the safety of oral contraceptives. Board chairman Wayne Clift asked several times for those in opposition to maintain a respectful demeanor.

In the end, the board voted to reject policy language recommended by Virginia Garcia that would have allowed the clinic to provide prescriptions for oral contraception and operate legally within the HIPPA and FERPA (patient confidentiality) laws.