Planned Parenthood denounced a new ad campaign aimed at sexually active teens, unveiled by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week, for shaming current and expectant teen parents and their children.
“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people,” Haydee Morales, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood's New York office, said in a statement released on Wednesday. “The city’s money would be better spent helping teens access health care, birth control and high-quality sexual and reproductive health education, not an ad campaign intended to create shock value.”
The "Cost of Teen Pregnancy" campaign—displayed in subways and bus shelters citywide—includes images of concerned toddlers with messages for their teen parents.
"Honestly Mom," one poster reads, "chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?"
"Dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years," reads another, noting that New York state law requires a parent to pay child support until a child is 21.
The public service announcements also instruct teens to text "'NOTNOW' to 877877 for the real cost of teen pregnancy."
[Related: NYC rolls out 'Cost of Teen Pregnancy' PSAs]
"This campaign makes very clear to young people that there’s a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child,” Bloomberg said in his weekly radio address on Sunday.
The effort, he said, will "let thousands of young New Yorkers know that waiting to become a parent could be the best decision they ever make.”
According to the health department, the city's teen pregnancy rate has fallen 27 percent in the past decade. But Morales said stigmatizing teens who have already become parents "has not been a part of what has led to this success."
In 2011, the city quietly rolled out a controversial pilot program that allowed teens access to the contraceptive drug Plan B—the so-called "morning after pill"—in some of its public schools without parental consent. (Parents could choose to exclude their children from access.) In 2012, officials expanded the program to 13 schools with hopes of implementing it citywide.
That program—dubbed CATCH, or "Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health"—is supported by Planned Parenthood.