Pregnancy pact by schoolgirls disputed by US officials

June 24th, 2008 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 24 (IANS) There is no independent evidence that a group of 18 high school girls in a Massachusetts city made a sensational pact to become pregnant and raise their babies together as reported widely, city officials have said. “Any planned blood-oath bond to become pregnant - there is absolutely no evidence of that,” Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk said at a news conference Monday after a meeting with school and health officials.

Time magazine first reported last week quoting the principal of Gloucester High School, Joseph Sullivan, that nearly half of the 18 students who became pregnant during the school year did so as part of an agreement.

Mayor Kirk said that when pressed for details, Sullivan could not remember where he had heard about the pact.

The superintendent of schools, Christopher Farmer, added that he had spoken with employees at the 1,200 strong school, and had been unable to verify the pact.

He confirmed, however, that school officials knew that some of the girls had “expressed pleasure at being pregnant”. But that does not mean they made a pact, he said.

He suggested that the girls might have banded in support after becoming pregnant.

Time repeated on its website Monday that Sullivan told the magazine June 11 that the teenage pregnancy rate had risen four times during this school year because of “seven or eight sophomore girls” who “made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together”.

Time also quoted Sue Todd, the president of a child care provider that runs a day care centre at Gloucester High School, as saying that a social worker heard last fall that girls were planning to get pregnant.

Brian Orr, former medical director of the health clinic at the high school, and Kim Daly, the former head nurse practitioner, had not heard of a pact, they told the media.

They had resigned in May after Addison Gilbert Hospital, which oversees the clinic, opposed making contraceptives available to students.

Orr and nurse Daly said the spike in teenage pregnancy rates became noticeable late last fall when 10 girls were known to be pregnant. As of this month, 18 students were known to have been pregnant during the time since the previous June.

They have attributed the rise in pregnancies to increasing use of alcohol by Gloucester students, media influences, lack of sex education and the weak economy.

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