Yale University will NOT have birth control vending machines because it violates Connecticut law
- Connecticut is one of a few states that bans over-the-counter drugs being sold in vending machines
- Yale University was going to follow the 10 other campuses that have installed birth control vending machines
- In early December, a state official informed the student council it would not be possible
- Now, the university has changed protocol so students can get Plan B for free 24/7, as before, but from now on they won’t need to have a conversation with a nurse about it
Yale University was forced to pull the plug on plans for vending machines that would dispense the ‘morning after’ pill because it does not comply with Connecticut law.
The machine, which has already been installed in a few other US universities, was being considered for Silliman College, the largest college in the center the Ivy League school.
Plan B, a $50 progestin-only pill which can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy, has long been free of charge for Yale students, but it required a conversation with a nurse about their sexual activity and questions about sexual assault.
After months of consultation, the machine was approved and announced in late November.
But just a week later, the student council received word from a state official that Connecticut is one of just a few states that bans over-the-counter medicine from being sold in vending machines. While a condom dispensary would be permissible, it would not allow the sale of Plan B.
The student body has reached a compromise by confirming that Yale Health, the university’s healthcare center, will provide emergency contraception for free, 24/7, without needing to speak to a clinician first.
Campuses across the US have been installing birth control vending machines that dispense Plan B (pictured: one in UC Davis). Yale was due to follow suit but was forced to pull the plans because Connecticut has laws banning the sale of over-the-counter medication in vending machines
HOW PLAN B CAME TO BE AVAILABLE OVER-THE-COUNTER FOR ALL WOMEN
It was first approved for prescription use in 1999.
From that moment, family planning advocates were petitioning to cut the need for prescription.
In 2005, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a lawsuit against the US government to make emergency contraception available over the counter.
In 2006, the FDA lifted the prescription requirement for women over 18.
The ruling prompted another lawsuit to lower the age limit to 17, the legal age for sexual intercourse in most states, which was passed in 2009.
But this was overruled 2011 by Kathleen Sebelius, then-Secretary for Health and Humans Services, in an unusual move backed by President Obama.
Sebelius said she took the rare decision to veto an FDA decision because she feared more liberal restrictions could mean that girls as young as 10 could get hold of the drug, and ‘end up having an adverse effect’.
The move sparked a legal brawl. The CRR relaunched its lawsuit against the FDA.
Finally, in 2013, a judge ruled that there are risks to many over-the-counter drugs, many more severe than emergency contraception, and that removing all restrictions on the drug does more good than harm, by cutting the rate of unwanted pregnancies, particularly among young women and those without insurance.
Wellness-2-Go machines were first installed at UC Davis, before Stanford, Dartmouth and some other Uni.
Although condoms and the morning after pill are legally available without a prescription, studies show they’re not always accessible. A study of pharmacies in 2015 found 83 percent stocked emergency contraception – most, but not all.
What’s more, while most universities offer contraception for free or at a reduced price, their health centers are not always open at all hours.
While that’s not the case at Yale, which has a center called Acute Health open all hours, the growing publicity of birth control vending machines in other colleges was sparking interest in New Haven.
‘The only way to obtain Plan B through [the Yale health centers] was going to Yale Health and having one or a series of conversation to obtain the actual pill,’ Yale College Council President Saloni Rao told DailyMail.com.
Those conversations included how to use the pill, as well as information and questions about sexual misconduct.
For many students, Rao said, that level of intimacy felt like a deterrent. Once they have made their decision to get Plan B, the reasons that lead them there are not things they want to dwell on at length.
After the vending machine idea was brought forward by the Reproductive Justice Action League at Yale (RALY), two student senators were appointed to investigate, and conduct consultations with both the university and Vengo Labs, the company that has provided small, digital birth control vending machines to at least 10 campuses.
Rao says neither the university nor Vengo raised legal issues, adding: ‘We’re 20- and 21-year-olds, we’re not lawyers, so we tried to consult as many as we could’ to vet the venture. ‘No red flag was raised until the last minute,’ Rao said.
To circumvent the legal hiccup, the university has agreed that students – whether they have student insurance or not – can obtain Plan B 24/7 from Yale Health or Acute Health free of charge without having a conversation with a clinician.
Instead, when they arrive at the clinic to ask for Plan B, a clinician will lead them to a dispensary. They put their name into an anonymous database for record-keeping purposes, and they then receive the pill free of charge, along with printed pamphlets containing the information that was previously delivered verbally.