George Washington University installs emergency contraception vending machine

Students led effort over concern for reproductive rights after supreme court struck down constitutional right to abortion

A vending machine that provides emergency contraception has been installed at a Washington DC university, as colleges contend with how to protect reproductive rights on campus.

Students at George Washington University successfully obtained the vending machine dispensing morning-after pills following concerns in the wake of the supreme court’s ruling last summer to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that had ushered in the constitutional right to an abortion.

“You could get Doritos and Plan B at the same time,” George Washington University senior Aiza Saeed, who helped lead efforts to get the machine installed, told the Washington Post

The campaign to get the machine installed was led by student leaders within the university’s student government.

“After Roe v Wade was overturned, we felt a lot of passion in making sure that people felt supported on this campus,” Neharika Rao, a sophomore at the university who is active in student government, told NBC Washington.

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION: This morning, GW University installed a vending machine on campus that sells emergency contraception pills (aka Plan B) for $25. This afternoon on News4, we'll chat with the student leaders who advocated for the machine @nbcwashington @GWtweets

— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) January 24, 2023

The idea came from Christian Zidouemba, the university’s student association president.

Zidouemba was researching solutions for students concerned about the impact of the supreme court’s decision and came across the vending machine, which had been installed at other universities.

While George Washington University already offered its students emergency contraception through its student health center, the vending machine offered another accessible option.

Rao and Saeed then led a campaign to bring the machine to campus, working for months to survey students and collect responses to the idea.

Of the 1,500 students who were surveyed on the machine, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Most feedback on the idea was about making sure the machine was discreet and private for students seeking emergency contraception.

With the machine now installed, Zidouemba says that many students are asking for other machines to be installed in dormitories and for the price of pills to be lowered. Currently, the vending machine provides the pills for $25 each.

“Overall the reaction is we need this on our campus,” said Zidouemba to the Washington Post, “and we need to make sure it’s less expensive and more discreet so people can purchase it.”

Saeed told NBC Washington she is proud that her on-campus legacy will include getting the machine installed.

“Getting something accomplished like this is kind of like a legacy for me, because I’m a senior, so I’m graduating, so now people will know, like, ‘Oh, those girls did that,”’ said Saeed.

Other universities have installed similar machines.

Boston University installed a vending machine that provides emergency contraception pills in July, following activism from students on campus.

Thanks to the vending machine, “morning after” pills at the university are now available for only $7.25, reported NBC Boston.


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