Around New England

Yale Installing “Morning-After Pill” Vending Machine; Brandeis University Already Has One

December 1, 2018

An “emergency contraception” vending machine — called a “Wellness-to-go” machine — is being installed in the “Good Life Center” in Silliman College at Yale University in New Haven CT. According to the Yale Daily News, the machine will not only dispense “condoms” and “lubricants” but also so-called “Plan B” or “morning-after pills.”

Such pills are taken “the morning after”, or even up to a few days after, sexual intercourse.

The Yale Daily News reports that Ileana Valdez, a Yale sophomore who worked to get the “emergency contraception” vending machine installed, said the machine is needed “so Yale students don’t have to go out of their way to go to CVS, especially students from the new colleges.” Valdez also said “the point of this is to make Plan B more accessible.”

Valdez’ classmate Grace Cheung, who first proposed the campus provide the machine, “emphasized that unprotected sex frequently occurs on campus and purchasing emergency contraception can be an inconvenient and ‘humiliating process,’” the Yale Daily News writes.

Made with levonorgestrel and sold under brand names like “MyWay” or “AfterPill,” the pills purportedly work on a female’s hormones to suppress, delay or prevent ovulation during her normal menstrual cycle, thus reducing any “risk” of the fertilization of an egg; they are deemed “effective” up to 3 days after intercourse.

Brandeis University in Waltham, MA placed a similar machine in its Shapiro Campus Center at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year. The Brandeis machine, called a “Health and Wellness” vending machine, was brought to campus following the efforts of Brandeis Pro-Choice, a campus activist group, with funding for the vending machine coming through grants from Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood also “hopes” to install a similar vending machine at the University of California-Riverside, according to that school’s The Highlander.

Information about whether the Yale device is funded by Planned Parenthood is not immediately available.

The use of levonorgestrel (LNG-EC) as a post-coital contraceptive is not without controversy. While some literature claims the pills are not abortifacients — meaning, they allegedly do not induce miscarriage or abortion — at least one team of researchers argues (in a paper available at the National Institutes of Health) that in some cases LNG-EC “has a significant potential of working via abortion,” and concludes that “[i]n light of the most recent scientific and medical data noted in this paper, the claim of moral certitude in regard to a non-abortifacient action of LNG-EC is not justifiable.”

The only drug approved by the Federal Drug Administration to induce abortion — RU486 and called the “abortion pill” — is not listed as an item for sale in the vending machines.

According to an article in The New York Times, Stanford University, University of California-Santa Barbara and UC-Davis, are just a few of the other universities that offer vending machine-access to contraception.