July 18, 2022 – A Plan B vending machine in Boston is gaining attention as reproductive rights have come into question since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
A group of students at Boston University installed the vending machine to dispense emergency contraception at a lower cost for students, according to NBC Boston. Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, is a form of emergency contraception that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or when another birth control method may have failed.
The vending machine is next to other vending machines filled with drinks and snacks in the basement of the student union at Boston University, NBC Boston reported. The machine contains boxes of levonorgestrel, a generic version of Plan B.
The boxes sell for $7.25, and the machine accepts all major credit cards. The charges are listed as “vending and snacks” on bank statements.
The Students for Reproductive Freedom decided to install the machine after seeing a similar one at Brandeis University, the news outlet reported. The vending machine was installed in March and has sold more than 1,000 emergency contraception pills. Students can also access emergency contraception through the university’s Student Health Services, which orders the contraception for the machine.
“We just wanted something that was low-cost and easy to access,” Charlotte Beatty, former co-president of Students for Reproductive Freedom, told NBC Boston.
“You don’t need to take a train across town. You don’t need to call a doctor,” she said. “It’s right there, and you can get it as soon as you need it.”
The demand for emergency contraception has increased since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Some retailers have placed limits on how many units can be purchased at one time.
“The overturning of Roe made us even more proud to offer this service to people in our community,” Molly Baker, the group’s other former co-president, told NBC Boston.
Pictures of the vending machine have recently gone viral on social media.
“It’s going viral because people are scared, and this is a solution,” Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now, told the news station.
Reproductive Equity Now, a reproductive health care nonprofit in Boston, recently honored the Boston University student group at its annual gala. Although emergency contraception is still legal, people are concerned about the effect that overturning Roe may have on future contraception access cases, Hart Holder said
“We have to be fighting and planning for a nation that would restrict access to birth control, which is a terrifying thing to say,” she said.
The Boston University student group is now helping students at other schools who want a Plan B vending machine, and they published a resource guide to help others. They hope to install more machines on their campus and stock them with different types of medication in the future.
Plan B contains a high dose of progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, which helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, according to Today. The pill works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation and can be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex, though it’s most effective when taken within 24 hours. Plan B doesn’t cause an abortion and has no effect on an existing pregnancy.
Plan B and its generic versions can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies and ordered online from major retailers. Plan B typically costs $40 to $50, while generic versions cost $11 to $45.