The vending machine was installed by a group called Students for Reproductive Freedom after a leaked Supreme Court opinion hinted at overturning Roe v. Wade.
Students at Boston University have taken matters into their own hands in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade by making low-cost contraception pills accessible from a vending machine. The machine dispenses the "morning-after" pill, costing just $7.25, and is placed right next to other vending machines dispensing energy drinks and candy, reported NBC Boston. It was installed by a group called Students for Reproductive Freedom after they heard about a similar one installed at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. "We just wanted something that was low-cost and easy to access. You don't need to take a train across town. You don't need to call a doctor. It's right there and you can get it as soon as you need it," said Charlotte Beatty, the former co-president of the group. The vending machine was installed in March and has already sold more than 1,000 emergency contraception pills.
The product can only be purchased using a credit card and in the transaction the card information is encrypted. The group said the charges would be listed as "vending and snacks" on bank statements. The group also has an Instagram page featuring regular posts on reproductive health. The vending machine also features a QR code to provide resources on drug information, potential side effects and local sexual health resources, among other things. Plan B and its generic versions are available over the counter at most pharmacies, with Plan B costing in the range of $40 to $50 while the generic versions cost in the range of $11 to $45, according to Planned Parenthood.
"The overturning of Roe made us even more proud to offer this service to people in our community," said Molly Baker, the group's former co-president. There has been a sharp rise in demand for emergency contraception in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a federal constitutional right. The demand has been so high that retailers are limiting how much you can buy. "It's going viral because people are scared and this is a solution," said Rebecca Hart Holder, the executive director of Reproductive Equity Now. "We have to be fighting and planning for a nation that would restrict access to birth control, which is a terrifying thing to say," said Holder.
Nurx, an online pharmaceutical company that prescribes birth control, reported a 300% increase in emergency contraception after the leak of the Dobbs opinion in May, way before the decision was officially announced in June. "When that decision was leaked, we saw a massive demand for emergency contraception. We saw a 300% increase in prescriptions being asked for and by our patients," said Kelly Gardiner, vice president of communications with Thirty Madison, Nurx's parent company, reported CNN. The demand shot up further after the decision was finalized. "We saw a 10 [times] surge for prescription-only Ella, and even though demand has leveled out right now, what we're starting to see is birth control requests are [three to four] times higher than usual," said Gardiner.
The students at Boston University are already planning to help other schools set up similar vending machines and publish a resource guide accessible to anyone. Plan B and its generic versions are available over the counter at most pharmacies (aka without a prescription) and can be ordered online without age restrictions. The name brand typically costs $40 to $50, with its generic counterparts running $11 to $45, according to Planned Parenthood.
Biden administration officials have warned pharmacies that they would be violating civil rights laws if they refused to fill orders for contraception or abortion medication. Senior officials made the statement in the wake of news reports suggesting some pharmacies were refusing to fill prescriptions for abortion and contraception pills following the Supreme Court judgment. “Under federal civil rights law, pregnancy discrimination includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth,” reads the note the Department of Health and Human Services sent to more than 60,000 retail pharmacies, reported Politico.