, Gloucester, MA

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July 20, 2008

The GHS pregnancy saga

r March 7 — The Times first reports that local school and health officials confirm at least 10 girls — most in the "lower grades," have become pregnant during the current school year, up from the norm of 3-4 within the high school per year. Report touches off debate over whether the school should provide contraceptive services to students, but Principal Joseph Sullivan and others indicate that an undefined number of the girls are getting pregnant by choice, and are planning to raise the children together.

r March 28 — Times story featuring 17-year-old GHS senior Amanda Ireland spotlights the issues of being a teen mother and the role of the grant-funded GHS day-care center run by Pathways For Children.

r May 23 — Dr. Brian Orr, director of the GHS clinic, and Kim Daly, the clinic's chief nurse practitioner, announce their resignations in a dispute centering on Addison Gilbert Hospital's role with a committee considering, among other issues, whether clinic should confidentially dispense contraceptives to students. Orr and Daly claim the hospital and its parent Northeast Health System, which administers the clinic, are against distribution; hospital officials say that's not the case, that they're merely waiting for School Committee direction since the clinic is at the school. School and health officials also say the number of pregnancies has now risen to 17 — with reports some students were celebrating their positive pregnancy tests and others reacting with "disappointment" when tests prove negative.

r May 28 — Mayor Carolyn Kirk announces that city's Health Department and its director, Jack Vondras, will take over handling of the issue, and decries fact that hospital/schools panel has failed to carry out its charge.

r May 29 -- State Department of Health Medical Director Lauren Smith urges city to come up with a plan that includes confidential distribution of contraceptives in the school health clinic.

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