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Should Plan B Be in College Vending Machines?

There are no plans for adding the emergency contraceptive on UMBC's campus.

For $25, students at Shippensburg University can use a vending machine on campus to get access to Plan B, which is also referred to as the “morning-after pill.”

Plan B is an over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pill to be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.

Locally, some colleges report considering making the pill more accessible, while others said they haven't considered it.

UMBC spokeswoman Elyse Ashburn said the university does not and is not considering making it accessible through vending machines.

Towson University is among the places in Maryland considering adding Plan B in a vending machine.

With a vending machine in a controlled area, Dr. Jane Halpern, director of the university's health center, told Towson Patch, "It's more private; you could come and just purchase it on your own."

The vending machine at Shippensburg University is located in a private room in the school’s student health center that is accessible only to students, according to a university statement released this month.

It was made available after 85 percent of students said in a survey they supported making Plan B available, university officials said.

“The university is not encouraging anyone to be sexually active. That is a decision each student makes on his or her own. The university does strongly encourage all students to make wise and appropriate decisions in all aspects of their lives,” Shippensburg University officials said in a statement.

At Stevenson University, health officials, wanting to make sure that the doctor-to-student connection isn’t overlooked, implore students to visit its readily accessible wellness center.

Rather than acquire the pill via a vending machine, Stevenson students can meet with the nurse practitioner on staff who not only provides Plan B, but also counsels the student on their sexual practices and suggests alternative means of contraception in the future.

“I just really feel strongly on having some health education to go along with the pill,” Wellness Center Director Lindy S. Reymann said.

“I feel for our university, [offering Plan B in vending machines] would not be the best practice for us because it is accessible to come to the wellness center and it’s a very nonjudgmental, comfortable setting for them to get it in.

Some experts have questioned whether vending machine morning after pills make it too easy to get the drug.

"Perhaps it is personalized medicine taken too far," Alexandra Stern, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, told Fox News. "It's part of the general trend that drugs are available for consumers without interface with a pharmacist or doctor. This trend has serious pitfalls."

The machine at Shippensburg University has been around for two years, but awareness of it was raised only recently, Fox News reported.

Ron Wise February 19, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Since so many young people are sexually active, it's pointless to say, they should wait until they are married. Is $25 dollars a discount price? Condoms are already available in schools, even high schools. Has that made a big difference in teen pregnancy? Just askin'. If kids are inclined to let it happen, couldn't they just go to the drug store and keep them on hand? I know I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but, What a world, what a world this has become!
Richard Hiteshew February 20, 2012 at 01:09 PM
If Plan B is too readily available, it may become an alternate form of birth control. Ok, but what are the long term effects of regular use of Plan B. For example, for someone who is extremely sexually active, will long term frequent use of Plan B have a negative effect on a young woman's reproductive system. Later on, if it does (and maybe not), are the colleges going to be in the gunsights of the trail bar.
Ron Wise February 20, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Very good point, Richard. I understand, that the use of birth control pills over a long period, sometimes makes it difficult for couples to get pregnant when the are finally ready. Just because the FDA passes a drug, there's no guarantee that they won't come up and bite us (in the end.)
Richard Hiteshew February 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I can see the TV ads now: "Attention Young Women! If you toook the drug commonly known as Plan B while at college and cannot get pregnant, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Just call 555-123-4567. We are Zenderfast and Zenderfaster and we are here to help you:
chsmm1 February 22, 2012 at 02:24 AM
A BIG NO... I can just see College girls giving this drug to underage HS girls (whose parents won't know what happen to their daughter if there's a bad reaction to the drug). I can see the future...soon vending machines with this drug will be offered at the local HS cafeteria for all girls.

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