February 16, 2012
Even as some conservative politicians and Catholic prelates create controversy over the availability of contraception in health insurance plans, Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University has been making the so-called “morning-after pill” available to students via a vending machine in the campus student health center.
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year recommended allowing the Plan B emergency contraceptive to be sold over the counter to women under 17 years old (only to be overruled by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius), FDA is investigating whether the vending machine option is in accord with its regulations, which require those younger than 17 to have a prescription to access the medication.
Taking Plan B within 72 hours of unwanted or unprotected sex can cut the chances of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent. Officials at Shippensburg University stress that only university students may access the health center where the vending machine is located, and that the school has no students less than 17 years of age. The vending machine has been in place for two years, and is popular with students, who cite privacy concerns as reasons some may not feel comfortable going into the small town of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, to get Plan B from a local pharmacy.