A prominent American university has installed vending machines providing students with easy access to a certain contraceptive.

In a move that has sparked controversy and calls for a broader discussion about reproductive rights and the responsibilities of educational institutions, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has made the morning-after pill readily accessible to its students.

This decision was made in response to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling against the Roe v Wade decision, which had previously legalized early-term abortions. To provide an alternative means of assisting female students in preventing unwanted pregnancies, the university opted for a different approach.

The controversial initiative that brought George Washington University into the spotlight was the installation of vending machines on campus dispensing the morning-after pill. These machines were introduced following a student-led campaign, as a response to the court’s ruling against the protection offered by Roe v Wade for nearly fifty years.

Situated in the basement of the George Washington University student center, the morning-after pill vending machine provides students with a private and discreet way of obtaining the contraceptive pill, aimed at preventing unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place.

It is crucial to note that the morning-after pill is not an abortion method, but an emergency contraceptive that prevents pregnancies from taking root. Consequently, women would not need to seek out medical professional services for an abortion if they become pregnant after unprotected intercourse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 25% of women between the ages of twenty-two and forty-nine have used the emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sexual relations.

The student-led campaign aimed to increase the accessibility of the morning-after pill. Although the university’s on-site pharmacy offered the pill, its limited operating hours were an obstacle for some women, preventing them from obtaining the emergency contraceptive in a timely manner, which is crucial for the drug’s effectiveness.

The campaign for installing the vending machines was driven by GWU’s Student Association, aiming to increase access to the pill in case students needed the emergency contraceptive. The vending machines offer the pill at a lower cost than the standard fifty-dollar price tag at off-campus stores, which also require transportation, adding another barrier to pregnancy protection.

Students Neharika Rao and Aiza Saeed initiated the petition to increase access to the morning-after pill at GWU. Following the installation of the vending machine, student body president Christian Zidouemba thanked Rao and Saeed on Instagram.

Christian said, “While this is a step forward to ensuring our campus has reproductive health products, I acknowledge that a lot of work still needs to be done. That’s why we will work with GW administration to expand vending machines across our university as well as reduce the cost… Thank You @aizasaeed_ & @neharikaarao, for your leadership, taking on the project, and making it a reality.”

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Source: AWM

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