Emergency Contraception Vending Machines Are More Vital Than Ever on Campus, Students Say

Reproductive health care advocates are pushing to add emergency contraception, like Plan B, to the essentials distributed via on-campus vending machines in colleges and universities. Emergency contraception is often an afterthought in many schools, despite its importance. Jakeya Johnson, a graduate student at Bowie State University, developed a plan to offer emergency contraception on campus when she found that the school didn't offer many on-campus resources and it was difficult to get to the health center recommended by the school for abortion and emergency contraception services. Her proposal included resources to get a vending machine with emergency contraception, condoms, and menstrual products at a low cost.

Jakeya Johnson and state senator Ariana Kelly worked together to craft legislation that will equip Maryland's public colleges and universities with more robust reproductive health care, including 24-hour emergency contraception on campus. The bill passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly in March and was signed into law by Governor Wes Moore on May 3. The American Society for Emergency Contraception launched its Emergency Contraception 4 Every Campus (EC4EC) initiative in 2020, which is aware of vending machines that provide sexual and reproductive wellness products on at least 37 campuses. EC4EC, along with Advocates for Youth, held a Zoom training for students and advocates looking to bring emergency contraception vending machines to more campuses in April, attracting young people from more than a dozen states.

Andi Beaudouin, a junior at Loyola University in Chicago, has found ways to provide resources to peers without breaking any rules as an organizer with a group called Students for Reproductive Justice, which seeks to fill gaps in on-campus sexual health care options for students. Loyola University does not provide oral contraceptives or other devices for the purpose of preventing pregnancy due to Catholic beliefs about family planning. Students for Reproductive Justice distributes contraception on a street corner just off Loyola's campus on Free Condom Fridays and offers a peer-to-peer emergency contraception service called EZ EC, which operates seven days a week and coordinates pick-up locations for anyone who requires it.

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