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Maine school board to consider plan to limit contraceptive access at middle school
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    PORTLAND, Maine  — A local school board will consider limiting student access to birth control pills and patches at a middle school’s health center.
    Earlier this month, the Portland School Committee approved a plan that made King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to offer a full range of contraception to students in grades 6 through 8, when most students are 11 to 13 years old, according to state officials.
    On Monday, committee member Benjamin Meiklejohn submitted a proposal that would give parents the option of blocking access to prescription contraceptives if they enroll their children in the health center. It also would limit contraceptives to students who are at least 14 years old.
    Meiklejohn was one of two board members who voted against providing prescription birth control.
    The committee will consider his resolution on Nov. 7.
    As it stands, students treated at the centers must first get written parental permission, but under state law such treatment is confidential. Students decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive.
    The health center, which is operated by the city’s Public Health Division, has been providing students with condoms since 2000.
    The center offers a variety of medical services, including treating acne, sore throats and muscle strains, and giving immunizations and psychiatric evaluations.
    The committee’s 7-2 vote last week sparked a controversy and has prompted a Republican-led effort to recall members who supported the measure. School committee elections in this overwhelmingly Democratic city are nonpartisan.
    John Coyne, School Committee chairman, said he wants to run Meiklejohn’s proposal by the legal department before it goes before the committee. Coyne also voted against providing prescription contraceptives.
    ‘‘If we can figure out the legal issues around this decision, maybe we can come up with something a little more palatable to me and others.’’

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