Portland, Maine Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.
The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades six through eight, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
There are no national figures on how many middle schools, where most students range in age from 11 to 13, provide such services.
"It's very rare that middle schools do this," said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.
The Portland School Committee voted 5-2 for the measure.
Opponents cited religious and health objections.
Diane Miller said she felt the plan was against religion and against God. Another opponent, Peter Allen, said he felt it violated the rights of parents and puts students at risk of cancer because of hormones in the pill.
A supporter, Richard Verrier, said it's not enough to depend on parents to protect their children because there may be students who can't discuss things with their parents.
Condoms have been available since 2002 to King students who have parental permission to be treated at its student health center.
Students treated at the centers must first get written parental permission, but under state law such treatment is confidential, and students decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive.