Students demand ‘last resort’ emergency contraceptive vending machines on campuses after Roe ruling

A growing number of students in American universities are demanding the installation of emergency contraceptive vending machines on campuses following the US supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

Students at New England universities believe emergency contraceptives, often known as morning-after pills, may be their “last resort” for sexual health care given that the supreme court recently decided to drop key rulings enshrining abortion rights, leaving states to determine whether to ban the procedure and force women to carry pregnancies to term.

At least eight US states have outlawed abortion entirely in nearly all instances, and more legal challenges are expected as more laws take effect. As many as 26 states could outlaw abortion without the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade, with states legislatures poised to draft more-restrictive laws unbridled from constitutional obligations to protect access to care.

A petition has been launched by a Northeastern University student group focused on reproductive justice to install a 24x7 on-campus contraceptive vending machine to offer morning-after pills.

“In the face of Roe v Wade being overturned, access to reproductive care like Emergency Contraception is even more critical,” the petition read.

Abortions are still legal in the region.

The state of Massachusetts protects the right to an abortion up until 24 weeks of pregnancy. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Republican governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order to to protect reproductive health care providers who serve patients traveling from out of state.

The petition noted that abortion access was better in Massachusetts than many other states. It said it aimed to support a wide range of students from across the globe who have varying access to care.

“It is time for Northeastern to...install an Emergency Contraceptive Vending Machine on their Boston campus now,” the petition said.

“Emergency contraception is a last resort in a sense. It’s also the first resort that we’re going to be giving because it’s the most prominent time of need,” Finn Seifert, treasurer of the group, Northeastern University Sexual Health Advocacy, Resources, and Education, or NU SHARE said, according to Boston Globe.

“The reason that we’re looking toward a vending machine is a lot of other schools have done it and have had a lot of success.”

Students and rights advocates believe that the requirement of free or affordable contraceptives for students has become ever more important as accidental pregnancies in post-Roe-America can have health and mental consequences for women.

And the availability of contraceptives will help in reducing social, financial, and transportation barriers to sexual health resources.

In March, Boston University installed a contraceptive vending machine while one has been there at Brandeis University since 2019. Stanford University and the University of California Davis installed these machines in 2017.