Plan B Out of a Vending Machine? It's About Time!

Health Check 25

vending machineWomen's reproductive health has certainly been a hot topic lately, which explains why a small university in Pennsylvania is suddenly making headlines for a "controversial" vending machine that has actually been in place for a couple years now.

The particular vending machine in question dispenses Plan B One Step emergency contraceptive to students who need it for $25. It's the opposite of shocking that some religious conservatives and activists are opposed to the machine simply because they are opposed to the "morning-after" pill in general. But in this case, there's not a lot they can legitimately complain about ...

Like it or not, Plan B out of a vending machine is legal in this instance. By law, the pill is available without a prescription to anyone 17 or older, and Shippensburg University, where the machine is located, has checked records to ensure that all current students are that age or older. Moreover, the vending machine is located inside the student's health center, which is accessible only to students and university employees, who must check in at a lobby desk before being allowed in. In other words, the machine is being accessed only by people who have a legal right to do so.

Not only that but it honestly sounds like the students here need such a machine. In fact, a survey found that 85 percent of supported the machine because it provided a safe reproductive health care service that isn't easily accessible to them. (The town where the university is located is tiny, and it's about 130 miles from either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.)

So, it's legal and there's a need for it. Then what's the issue here?

It boils down to this: It's weird to see the morning-after pill (along with condoms and pregnancy tests) in a space where we're more used to seeing chips and candy bars. But that just goes to show how unaccustomed -- and uncomfortable? -- we are to the idea of contraception and other reproductive health products being so conspicuous and accessible to women. And being uncomfortable is absolutely no reason to deny people the help and care they need to be healthy.

Hopefully, this vending machine isn't just a step in the right direction, it's a sign of things to come.

Do you think Plan B should be sold in vending machines?


Image via jlwelsh/Flickr

birth control, general health, health products, sex life


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nonmember avatar FranklinMom

Absolutely! I salute the university of doing this.

tinyp... tinypossum

Absolutely! And, I bet there will be a ton of comments from people who are against it and who are also against abortion rights. Which makes no sense at all. You can't have it both ways. Reducing access to contraception certainlny won't reduce abortions. 

femal... femaleMIKE



i don't think those people fully understand what planB really is. 

Stacey. Stacey.

Yes. We need easy access to any tools that promote healthy living. Plan B deactivating some sperm is better than having an abortion even in a pro choice world.

nonmember avatar blh

I'm not against the pill or abortion in general, but I'm worried that girls will take this every time they have sex, rather than using normal bc, and that's not healthy,

i.payton i.payton

I am all about ease of access for women to obtain birth control and Plan B. However, having taken Plan B myself, I feel as though people should have a chat with a professional first. When I took it, I felt like death warmed over the next day -- I'm glad the nurse at PP told me I might feel like that.

I realize there are warnings on the box that say "side effects may include..." but we all know that it just means that SOME people in trial experienced that. It isn't the same, I feel, as being told by a person that it's likely this will happen.

I'm glad that women on Shippensburg's campus have this opportunity, and hope other campuses adopt a similar strategy. I also hope that women who use the vending machine aren't afraid to call a professional if the side effects are stronger than they imagined.

i.payton i.payton

@blh -- I understand that concern, but Plan B is pretty expensive -- I think I was able to get a month's worth of BC for one box of Plan B. It just doesn't make economic sense.

PonyC... PonyChaser

This is stupid, and it has nothing at all to do with abortion.

Last week we were discussing banning SUGAR because it's "so dangerous", and now you think it's a genius idea to just stick a pill in a vending machine??? What the hell??

When do we get politics out of health care and start talking about the real human beings that are involved? This has nothing to do with making bc available or being "uncomfortable with the idea of contraception and other reproductive health products being so conspicuous and accessible to women". Condoms are everywhere. The Pill is available if you ask your doc for it. You can even learn about your own body and download monthly Natural Family Planning Charts...for free.

But having this pill available in a vending machine, so nobody knows you're taking it is just stupid. The side effects are bad enough that you could have some serious complications - how is that going to play in the emergency room when nobody knows that you took it? (and if you're stupid enough to take a pill out of a vending machine, you're stupid enough to not care about the side effects)

i.hea... i.heart.nerds

Disgusting. Use protection, properly, and you won't need something like this. If your condon breaks go into the medical center and request it. All this is promoting is a lack of preactive responsibility.

nkkk07 nkkk07

Jesus please come back soon...:/

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