War on Birth Control: The Colbert Report Goes After Student Suspended for Taking the Pill

August 11, 2009

Back in April, the Washington Post reported on a Fairfax, Va., high school honor student who received a two-week suspension and was recommended for expulsion for — wait for it — taking her birth control pill.

In the era of zero-tolerance, many schools have rules prohibiting students from possessing over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In Fairfax, the penalties are stiff:

In Virginia, school systems must comply with state code regarding prescription medications and illegal drugs on campus. Students face expulsion if they bring to school any “controlled substance” or addictive drug regulated by the federal government. “Imitation controlled substances,” which could include virtually any prescription pill, are subject to the same hefty repercussions. Local school boards can give a lighter punishment after a review.

A small portion of school health clinics across the country distribute birth-control pills to teens. But in Fairfax, even carrying the pills in a backpack is counted among the most serious offenses in the Student Responsibilities and Rights handbook.

In a 2008 survey, a little more than a quarter of Fairfax teenagers, and 44 percent of 12th-graders, reported being sexually active, according to the Post. And 10 percent of those who said they were sexually active reported not using contraception the last time they had sex.

Deb Hauser of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health, put it best when she said: “To put birth control in the same category as illegal drugs or handguns stigmatizes responsible behavior.”

But leave it to Stephen Colbert to fully contextualize the punishment alongside America’s war on drugs. The student, Freesia Jackson, 17, is a terrific sport in this segment, which aired last week. Fallopian dopers, beware …

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