The recent debates about birth control and issues of availability, especially to girls in their early twenties, has become a pressing concern. Though we understand the idea behind supplying Plan B in vending machines and applaud schools such as Shippensburg University for their forward thinking, we can’t help but feel that supplying Plan B in this manner could cause some complications.
Plan B makes the “morning after” experience easier since it provides an air of discretion. However, in certain situations, such as in the case of sexual assault victims, discretion might not be the key element. Providing Plan B might make them avoid seeking medical attention, which could have dire consequences emotionally and physically.
Another issue is that women who take it won’t always know all of the risks. How many people actually read all of the miniscule writing on the side of the box? It’s complicated and long, and most people don’t have time. By talking to a nurse or doctor, a woman is able to understand the risks, preventing future health concerns.
Some might try to use Plan B as a form of birth control. Many people know that this is not healthy, but some may not. Using Plan B as birth control is not healthy or intelligent. Constantly relying on Plan B, as opposed to a traditional birth control method, is actually significantly less effective, as is stated on the company’s website.
We understand the need for privacy, but when women don’t know how to be careful or what to look out for, it becomes a problem. It would be a better idea for colleges to partner with local women’s health centers, like Planned Parenthood. Getting Plan B from an off campus clinic is even more anonymous than buying the pill from a vending machine located on campus.
The machines at Shippensburg University that sell Plan B also dispense condoms and pregnancy tests, but equating a medication that is distributed by a doctor or pharmacist to a harmless method of contraception is misleading. These young women are concerned with not conceiving, so they will not take time to weigh the health risks- the immediate concern is avoiding a pregnancy. It is the role of the physician or pharmacist to inform the patient of what she might be doing to her health. Putting Plan B next to these products makes the pill seem harmless- condoms and pregnancy tests have no side effects, so why would you take a minute to consider that the pill does?
Women have the right to access Plan B and avoid unwanted pregnancies, but they also have the right to their health. By making a prescription medication seem harmless, we are endangering the health of these women. In December, Obama’s top health care official made a ruling against providing Plan B alongside condoms in pharmacies. This was not an arbitrary decision. We need to protect women from hurting their bodies as they attempt to preserve their childless lifestyles. We are not saying that Plan B is a bad idea, just that giving it out without a pharmacist or doctor’s supervision will lead to unnecessary risks and health hazards that can easily be avoided.