To vend Plan B or not to vend Plan B, that is the question

Published by adviser, Date: February 17, 2012

It’s strange how a single vending machine at one of our sister institutions can cause so much controversy, even within our own newsroom.

In case you haven’t heard, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, a fellow PASSHE school, has a vending machine in their health center that dispenses condoms, decongestants, pregnancy tests and Plan B One-Step.

The last of those is the cause of the controversy.

Plan B One-Step, according to their website, is a one-pill emergency contraceptive that can reduce the chance of pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. It can’t, however, do anything if you’re already pregnant.

At our weekly meeting, the Rocket staff had a discussion about Plan B being sold out of a vending machine in preparation for this editorial.

We remain divided on the topic, so in order to accurately portray our opinions, we need to address both the pros and cons.




For those staff members that are for selling Plan B in vending machines, the main supporting factor is that having the machine in the health center is no different than selling it in a pharmacy.

Before this machine, Plan B was only kept behind the counter at pharmacies, because you must be 17 or older to purchase it.

A spokesman from Shippensburg told the Associated Press that they checked school records to make sure all current students are of legal age.

Students and faculty also have to check in with their ID’s at a desk in the lobby before they can enter the health center where the vending machine is kept, so someone can’t just walk off the street and buy Plan B.

To the pro-voting staff members, that’s the same as going to a pharmacy and getting the pill from behind the counter, so there’s no problem with selling Plan B out of the vending machine.



The argument against the vending machine revolves around the same idea – comparing it to a pharmacy. While it seems like no one under the legal age of 17 would be able to reach the vending machine and buy Plan B, they aren’t forced to consult a pharmacist, either.

When a woman is in a position to buy Plan B, she may not be fully aware of the risks or what it could do to her body.

That’s the point of a pharmacist, to explain the risks and answer any questions the woman may have. A vending machine can’t do that.

The ease of it may also lead to problems. Women could be more inclined to purchase Plan B from a vending machine when they don’t really need it. Fear and paranoia can get the best of a person, and when it’s as easy as putting $25 into a machine and pushing a button, women could end up taking Plan B more often than they should.


Now that you’ve seen both sides of our internal argument, what do you think? Would you like to see Plan B sold in a vending machine at SRU?

Send your opinion to, write on our Facebook page or tweet us and let us know.


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