Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, January 28, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration has officially decided that it will not take any regulatory action over a vending machine at a Pennsylvania university that sells the morning-after pill to students on campus.
Shippensburg University, a publicly funded college in south-central Pennsylvania, installed the vending machine in the student health center three years ago. The machine charges $25 for the pill and also sells condoms, decongestants and pregnancy tests.
In a statement Friday by FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson, the agency looked at “publicly available information about the Shippensburg University vending program, spoke with university and campus health officials, and decided no action was necessary.”
“I think it’s great that the school is giving us this option,” then-junior Chelsea Wehking said about the machine last year. “I’ve heard some kids say they’d be too embarrassed” to go into town to buy it. The population of the town of Shippensburg, which is located about 45 miles southwest of Harrisburg, is smaller than that of the on-campus student body.
According to Dr. Roger Serr, the Vice President of Student Affairs at Shippensburg, “The machine is really used as much for privacy as anything else.” He stressed that the university does not profit off of the sales of the morning-after pill and that students can only get the pill during the hours that the health center is open.
In Pennsylvania anyone over the age of 17 can buy the morning-after pill from a pharmacist over-the-counter. Other publicly funded universities in Pennsylvania require an appointment with the student health center before the pill can be purchased. According to the Associated Press, the machine sells between 300 and 400 packets of pills annually.
Last month, the School District of Philadelphia announced that it would install condom vending machines in 22 of its high schools, providing students as young as 14 with free condoms. Public schools in New York City have also distributed the morning-after pill to students without informing parents first.