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Published On: Wed, Feb 8th, 2012

Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania: Plan B abortion pills available in vending machine

The morning after pill is now as easy to acquire as a can of Coke or a Snickers bar.

$25 in a vending machine at Shippensburg University gets their students the morning after pill, the Plan B One Step emergency contraceptive.

“I think it’s great that the school is giving us this option,” junior Chelsea Wehking said Tuesday. “I’ve heard some kids say they’d be too embarrassed” to go into town — Shippensburg, permanent population about 6,000 — and 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. It doesn’t appear that any other vending machine in the U.S. dispenses the contraceptive, which can prevent pregnancy if taken soon after sexual intercourse.

The machine has been in place for about two years, and its existence wasn’t widely known until recently. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is contacting state officials and the university to gather facts, agency spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said Tuesday.

morning-after-pill-in-vending-machine-300x225Alexandra Stern, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, said she wasn’t questioning a woman’s right to have access to Plan B, but whether making it so easily available is a good idea.

“Perhaps it is personalized medicine taken too far,” she said. “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.”

UPDATE: January 2013 – The FDA decided not to intervene following a “politically motivated uproar” over the vending machine.

FDA looked at publicly available information about Shippenburg State’s vending program and spoke with university and campus health officials and decided not to take any regulatory actions, the FDA said.

Students at the university can obtain Plan B without waiting for an appointment by depositing $25 in the machine.

College spokesman Peter Gigliotti said in comments to AP that the drug is available to anyone over the age of 17 without a prescription. The machine was installed after the student government association requested it.

“The machine is in a private room in our health center, and the health center is only accessible by students,” Gigliotti said in a statement. “In addition, no one can walk in off the street and go into the health center. Students proceed to a check-in desk located in the lobby and after checking in are granted access to the treatment area.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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