According to a study from the Guttmacher Institute, birth and abortion rates among U.S. teens fell to record lows in 2008 as increased use of contraceptives sent the overall teen pregnancy rate to its lowest level since at least 1972. The Guttmacher researchers said the decline in teen birthrates was largely attributable to increased contraceptive use by teens of both genders.
While some may consider that to be good news, the access to contraceptives is a concern for John Kline (R-MN-02) … in particular regarding his alma mater, Shippensburg University.
The backdrop is after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a restriction in 2009 on the emergency contraceptive Plan B pills that limited its non-prescriptive sale to individuals older than 18, the Shippensburg University’s Student Association requested that it be made available for students to purchase in the health center.
Thus it is that Plan B pills are in a vending machine that also holds condoms, cough drops, decongestant and pregnancy tests. It is not accessible to students after health center hours of operation. The health center is closed in the evenings, after 2 p.m. on Fridays and all weekend.
According to Dr. Roger Serr, university vice president for student affairs, said “(We got it) so that the people who wanted to use it can buy it. As long as the health fee didn’t subsidize it. No student fee money goes in to these.”
In fact, it is a cost savings for the students … the university pays $25 to a pharmaceutical company for a dose of the medication, the same price given on the vending machine. CVS Pharmacy has the contraceptive marked at $39.99 a dose.
This practice has been successful on campus, but Mr. Kline objects saying “It’s the wrong thing to do in my judgment. I don’t think it’s a good idea. The idea that you put it out there and say, ‘Well, most of our students are over 17, so probably no kids will come in here.’ … It’s a very, very bad move.”
College officials counter that a health center attendant monitors the machine at all times, and no one is able to “walk in off the street” and buy the pill.
“The university is not encouraging anyone to be sexually active,” the school said in a written statement. “That is a decision each student makes on his or her own. The university does strongly encourage all students to make wise and appropriate decisions in all aspects of their lives.”
So the question for Mr. Kline would be : Do you think that the reduction in pregnancy has anything to do with the access to contraceptives — condoms or other readily available FDA-approved products ? Would you feel better if students had to pay more at the local pharmacy ?