Pennsylvania University Puts "Morning After Pill" in Vending Machines

'plan b' photo (c) 2008, dana robinson - license:

According to News One, the vending machine at Shippensburg University’s Etter Health Center now contains Plan B, along with condoms and decongestants.  The pills are available to anyone over 17, without a prescription, and cost a total of twenty-five dollars each. How awesome is that?  It’s about time that women’s reproductive choices be treated with ease.  It also frees women having to deal with pharmacists, who seem to feel that they have the right to interfere, and not do their jobs due to religious objections. If that were not enough, some pharmacy’s don’t even carry the pill, which they justify by claiming that Plan B is an abortion drug.

Obviously, condoms combined with foam are the best way to go, but we all know that things happen and condoms can break. Plan B prevents conception, which is something that is often misconstrued by conservatives, who have a very nasty habit of claiming that it’s an over the counter abortion pill and therefore against their religious principals. This argument has never made sense to me.  It seems to me that if one is anti-abortion, that the best possible way to reduce them, is to ensure that pregnancy does not occur in the first damn place. Their refusal to see this tells me that the issue is about controlling women’s bodies, and not a dedication to lowering the abortion rate.

I came across the story at Madame Noire, where some of the commenters are concerned that the introduction of Plan B to vending machines will increase the STD rate, and that it will promote unsafe sex practices, because of the ease at which the pill can be obtained. 

ElvisWasAHero2Most: I can see our pro-life friends shaking their fists with anger…

As one who isn’t too far removed from school, I have vivid memories of my glory days, running down to the lobby to grab a handful of condoms (even though I’d only need 2 a semester) when the moment got hot.  I wonder would things have been different if my school had a plan B vending machine. 

One backlash that is foreseeable is an increase in the STD rate.  I don’t know if it’s just me, or other guys think this way as well, but my priority when having sex is making sure I don’t birth a seed… I guess that has been my priority because I’ve always assumed since dealing with college educated women, I won’t have to worry about an STD… which yes I know, is stupid as all hell.  However, if these pills are readily accessible, the need for a condom will likely decrease.  Kids will get in the heat of the moment and not worry about a condom since they can avoid that baby the morning after.  Sounds problematic.

Ms_Sunshine9898: It’s a good thing and bad thing. Quicker access to it but then it promotes “well we don’t need a condom, we can just run to the plan b machine in the morning. . .

Say it with me folks …. horse shit. The more opportunities women have to access contraception, means that they are more empowered to make decisions regarding their reproduction.  Granted, Plan B is not meant to be used specifically as contraception, but we all know that people are not always as responsible as they should be when it comes to their sexual activities.  What the introduction of Plan B means, is that they will not have to have an abortion, or birth a child that they don’t want.  Anything that empowers women, is a good thing.

It is also worth noting that whether or not women can access this pill at a vending machine, they can still legally access it, and so I fail to see how making it convenient suddenly is an argument to suggest that it will lead to unsafe sex activities.  Convenience does not mean promotion, it simply means increased access.  Every time something progressive happens in terms of encouraging women’s reproductive freedom, the naysayers gather to make their fallacious arguments.  I am particularly troubled that the negativity occurred at a site aimed at Black women, especially considering the historical interference in our reproductive freedom.  We have been sterilized against our will, we have had our children stolen from us, and it seems to me that anything that puts a WOC firmly in control of her body, is something that should be touted, not argued against.

As a woman of colour, I see this machine as incredibly important. It is a well known fact that women of colour have abortions at a higher rate than White women.  There are several reasons for this, but I believe access to Plan B, at a reasonable price, will do much to stem this tide, especially if it comes with increased education on sex.  The more access women have, the greater the chances that they will make the decisions that are best for them.  I see this as a really positive step, and hope that other universities and college campuses follow suit. 

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