GWU Students Put a Morning-After Pill Vending Machine on Campus

In response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, two George Washington University students helped make emergency contraception more accessible on campus

SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 30: In this photo illustration, PlanB one-step emergency contraceptive is displayed on June 30, 2022 in San Anselmo, California. Some large drugstore chains are limiting the number of emergency contraception pills sold to individuals as demand for morning after pills is surging following the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and several states moving to prohibit abortions. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Two George Washington University students are making access to emergency contraception a less daunting task for their peers.

Senior Aiza Saeed and sophomore Neharika Rao have worked with school administration to bring the "morning-after" pill to a vending machine located in the basement of the school's student center, according to The Washington Post. There, the pills are kept at the necessary temperature and are available to students in a discreet location.

Students walk past a statue of George Washington on campus at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. The Bloomberg Businessweek 2021-22 Best B-Schools MBA ranking created a Diversity Index for U.S. business schools that for the first time measures race, ethnicity, and gender. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty

"You could get Doritos and Plan B at the same time," Saeed told the Post.

The two students, who are both involved in student government, led the effort after a suggestion from their student president following last year's Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The president, Christian Zidouemba, noticed students' calls for the firing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — who teaches at GWU's law school — and brainstormed some ways in which the students of the school could respond through helpful action.

The vending machine provides the pills with no subsidization from the university or the student government. While the school did provide emergency contraception at their student health care center, this option may have been too expensive or too inaccessible for some students who need the pill late at night or on weekends.

Abortion-rights activists holding signs gather in front of the Supreme Court building following the announcement to the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in Washington D.C.
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The pills in the vending machine are offered in the generic form for $30 — a competitive price compared to the average $50 price tag at most pharmacies.

Though the machine was met with some criticism from people who were concerned at the ease with which young adults could access the pills, the overwhelming response was a positive one, as a portion of the student body called for more of the machines in dormitories and with cheaper pricing to be more accessible for all students.

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

Saeed told the Post they have applied for grants to increase financial accessibility, and the two leaders of the effort hope to subsidize costs even more in the future.

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