MANCHESTER, N.H. – The city school board ordered an investigation into an after-school program run by the YMCA in which some middle school students were taken to visit a Planned Parenthood clinic.
New Hampshire Right to Life, an abortion opponent, is now asking for equal time with the seventh and eighth grade students, as well.
The visit was part of the YMCA's STAY program, for students considered at risk of dropping out of school, abusing drugs or getting into trouble with the law. The trip, a week ago, was part of a tour of several social service agencies in the city, to show the students where they could go for support and recreation during the summer.
The school board voted Tuesday to investigate how the decision to visit Planned Parenthood was made and determine whether anyone should be disciplined.
The Planned Parenthood educator who met with the students, Anne Johnson, said she never mentioned abortion, but Darlene Pawlik, New Hampshire Right to Life, said the subject was obvious.
"Everybody knows Planned Parenthood performs abortions," she said. "There were protesters outside with signs saying 'Babies killed here.' There's no mistaking that (the students) have already been exposed to the issue."
Schools Superintendent Michael Ludwell said he would need to see a formal, written request from New Hampshire Right to Life before deciding whether a representative would meet with the students.
Ludwell said he hoped to finish an internal investigation by the end of the week and meet with the YMCA president to draw up new program guidelines, but overall he defended the STAY program.
"We have had a very long and, prior to this incident, a very positive relationship," he said.