Math Teacher In Trouble For Giving Her Student Morning-After Pill

This is a sad story that underscores how the age requirement on the morning-after pill doesn’t work:  a math teacher in Austin, Texas, resigned after she was caught having helped a student acquire the morning-after pill. Two weeks ago, a 16-year-old came to her teacher, Tracy Lee Steinberg, 32, in tears and told her she was afraid that she was pregnant. Steinberg told the student she had a bright future and that she would help the 16-year-old get the morning-after pill, which is only available over-the-counter without a prescription for women ages 17 and up. Steinberg got money for the Plan B from the student and the student’s boyfriend, purchased it at a Planned Parenthood, and the student took it.

But when the student started experiencing normal side effects of Plan B like nausea, the student — surely in fear — told her mother she’d taken the morning-after pill and that Steinberg had gotten it for her. The mother called the school district and the administrators notified Steinberg she’d be put on leave. Instead, Steinberg offered to resign.

Tracy Lee Steinberg broke the law and is now being charged with “delivery of a dangerous drug.” From a legal point of view, there’s not much you can say in her defense. But this needs to be said: It’s a bad law. The 17-and-up age limit on Plan B is stupidly oblivious to the fact that teenaged girls are sexually active, but they’re unable to access Plan B if they need it. It’s also BS that Plan B is contraceptive health care if you’re 17-years-old, but if you’re 16-years-and-51-weeks old, then it is a “dangerous drug” in legal terms? Come on, now.

This whole situation is sorry and unfortunate: the student clearly didn’t feel comfortable going to one of her parents to acquire Plan B for her in the first place, so she went to a teacher she trusted. That’s a good thing she asked someone for help instead of keeping quiet and risking a teen pregnancy. (Of course, the girl ended up screwing that teacher over, but I’m assuming that was just because she was panicked.) I have a lot of empathy for Tracy Lee Steinberg, who was trying to do what she saw as the right thing. Lots of us probably would have acted the same in her shoes. (I know I would have, if it were one of my nieces coming to me.) You could even say it was brave — foolishly brave, perhaps, but brave nonetheless — of this teacher to risk her job to help a kid.  

“Doing the right thing,” of course, is subjective. What would you have done if you were in this scenario? I would especially be interested in hearing from teachers. []

Contact the author of this post at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.