Candy Bar Or Plan B?February 8, 2012 No Comments
When you need emergency contraception, you need it fast with no questions asked, as it’s most effective if it’s taken within 24 hours.
At Shippensburg University, a vending machine dispensing Plan B and pregnancy tests has been installed so students can have easy access to the emergency contraception pill. The best part is that young people now have privacy when making the decision to take the medication. There are no judgments, no nurses, and no roadblocks in obtaining the pill.
Surely this is a controversial initiative by the university since no other schools have taken steps to make Plan B as available like chips and candy bars. While it seems as if the Plan B fairy has miraculously descended on students, the bold move is the result of the collective voice of the student government at Shippensburg. In a survey conducted several years ago, “the school reported that 85 percent of the student body wanted to have the vending machine installed.”
In the name of due diligence, the school confirmed that all students were over the age of 17 (the legal age of someone who can get the morning after pill without a prescription) before installing the machine, and they alleviate public concerns about accessibility by stressing that it’s not possible for anybody to simply walk off the street and get the pill. Students have to check-in at the school’s health centre.
The university is also not subsidizing or profiting off the pill. The $25 cost matches the price point set by pharmaceutical companies, but it’s cheaper than off-campus pharmacies.
Still, ethical issues are bound to arise. Is it right to make the emergency contraceptive pill so accessible? Does selling it in a vending machine trivialize emergency contraception?
It seems that students are responsible enough not to abuse the pill and mature enough to recognize that accidents do happen. Condoms may fail, pills can be missed, and then there are serious circumstances like rape where Plan B is necessary. The vending machines allow students to access the pill with no shame attached.
Let’s hope support outweighs opposition and that Shippensburg University sets a precedent for other schools to follow.
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