The student health center at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania installed a vending machine where students can get the “morning-after” pill for $25, reports Daily Mail´s Jill Reilly.
It doesn´t appear that any other vending machine in the US dispenses the contraceptive, which can prevent pregnancy if taken soon after sexual intercourse.
Shippensburg, a secluded public institution of 8,300 students in the Cumberland Valley, provides the Plan B One Step emergency contraceptive in the vending machine along with condoms, decongestants and pregnancy tests. On average, one dose is sold every day from the machine.
“I think it´s great that the school is giving us this option,” junior Chelsea Wehking told the Associated Press (AP). “I´ve heard some kids say they´d be too embarrassed” to go into Shippensburg, a small town with a permanent population of about 6,000, to buy Plan B.
Federal law makes the pill available without a prescription to anyone 17 or older, and the school checked records and found that all current students are that age or older, a spokesman said. The vending machine has been in place for about two years, and its existence wasn´t widely known until recently.
Doctor Roger Serr, university vice president for student affairs said the idea for the vending machine was from the University´s Student Association.
“We went out and did a survey of the student body, and we got an 85 percent response rate that students would be supportive of having Plan B in the health center,” he said to Ship News Now. “The vending machine is just a way to dispense it. It´s provided, it´s not necessarily promoted on a large scale,” he added.
The medical vending machine is in the school´s Health Center, which is accessible only by students and university employees, school spokesman Gigliotti said in a statement. In addition, “no one can walk in off the street and go into the health center,” he said; students must check in at a lobby desk.
Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of rape, condom failure or just forgetting regular contraception and can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. It works best if taken within 24 hours. Some religious conservatives consider the emergency contraceptive tantamount to an abortion drug.
History professor Alexandra Stern, from the University of Michigan, questions whether making it so easily available is a good idea. “Perhaps it is personalized medicine taken too far. It´s part of the general trend that drugs are available for consumers without interface with a pharmacist or doctors. This trend has serious pitfalls.”
Other universities in the state system such as Millersville University require students have an appointment with campus medical staff before the pill is made available.
On the Net: