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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Plan B in vending machines sends inappropriate message

    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Twix, Pop-Tarts and the Plan B contraceptive pill have one thing in common: they’re in vending machines.

    Shippensburg University, a public college in Pennsylvania, has sold the morning-after pill for the past two years in vending machines and is just now receiving media attention. Due to the recent controversy surrounding the coverage and cost of contraceptives, sexual protection devices have been casted as lead roles in society’s most prevalent drama.

    Making Plan B pills accessible as pre-packaged snacks sends a dangerous message to students that could potentially increase risky business on campus. It would not only classify the female population as nymphomaniacs but would also seriously affect the lives of students, especially those that live on campus.

    “I think it’s not something to be selling in a vending machine, and I don’t think that by having it in a vending machine promotes safe-sex,” said Chelsea Bridgewater, a resident assistant at Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall. “What happens if they are dependent on it, and they are sold out?”

    If several students need the pill on a Saturday morning after one regretful Friday night and the selection is empty, the students are out of luck until Monday when the vendors refill.

    The Plan B pill is sold at the Campus Health pharmacy the same way it is sold at any other pharmacy. Anyone at least 17 or older can purchase the pill, which is 94 percent effective in reducing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse, according to a 2012 Sex Talk flier.

    “It would be super convenient for freshmen but I think that by having it so accessible they are not having to think about practicing safe sex when it should be used as an emergency contraceptive instead of birth control,” Bridgewater said. “They might become dependent on the morning-after pill as their only means of birth control and would not be educated on other forms of it.”

    Since the pill is already available for purchase in the heart of our campus, there is no reason for it to be additionally sold in vending machines. Shippensburg’s decision to install the vending machines’ sexiest item was prompted by the 85 percent of students who supported the idea in a campus-wide survey. Students told the Associated Press that they would be embarrassed to go into the small Pennsylvania town and purchase the pill for all to see. With more than 30,000 students enrolled at the UA, such conservative modesty about sex seems silly.

    Selling condoms in vending machines would be a much more reasonable way to encourage safe sex. Although condoms are sold in every convenient store both off and on-campus, putting them in vending machines doesn’t project such a precarious message. Conversely, providing such rapid accessibility to Plan B only makes unprotected sex seem less risky and inconsequential. It focuses only on one outcome of unprotected sex: pregnancy. Plan B does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

    “I would be very receptive of a vending machine that had different options like condoms,” Bridgewater said.

    Access to contraceptives should not be restricted when keeping students healthy, aware and protected. However, selling Plan B in a vending machine gives students the impressions that behaving carelessly with sex is OK. Having the emergency contraceptive pill down the hall, minutes away, at the touch of a button is an absurd way to encourage healthy sex.

    — Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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