The Easterner

Planned Parenthood Club seeks better access to sexual health products

Photo+courtesy+of+Planned+Parenthood
Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood

Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood

Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

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The Planned Parenthood Generation Action club and its coalition partners worked hard throughout the school year to pursue its mission of reproductive justice on campus. One way they have achieved that goal is by getting administration to agree to a vending machine in the PUB next year that provides emergency contraceptives and other sexual health products.

As soon as members in the club established this campaign, they decided to conduct field work by going to drugstores around Cheney and checking the prices of emergency contraceptives. What they found was that prices were higher than what emergency contraceptives are sold for online, at about $15. According to McKenzie Small and Jordan Stevenson, co-presidents of the club, they found that Safeway sold Plan B for about $55, Bi-Mart for $35 and OWL Pharmacy in between those amounts. They also found that all of the stores sold emergency contraceptives from behind the counter, which is a standard practice in Washington state. Legally, however, contraceptives do not have to be sold from behind the counter because it’s not a prescription medication.

“In these stores in Cheney these things are kept behind the counter, so limiting access, and not all of these drug stores were open hours of a normal college student,” Small said. “Often times the reason  you need Plan B is because you wake up the next morning and you are not sure protection-wise […] and we were just finding that Cheney wasn’t conducive to that. So, we saw this issue and we decided ‘hey, this might be our campaign for the year.’ So the idea behind getting these emergency contraceptives on campus was to get a vending machine.”

EWU will be the first campus in Washington state to have a vending machine that offers emergency contraceptives. Initially, Washington State Pharmacy Association policy stated that you could not dispense emergency contraceptive products in vending machines.

“We worked with campus partners, and I think the Health and Wellness department really took it on as something to look for and to work on, and they actually helped us to get the rule changed,” Stevenson said. “So, the Washington State Pharmacy Association changed the rule. It really began with us collecting signatures, so that administration knew that this was something really important to us.”

Details including where in the PUB the vending machine will be located and what other products that will be offered in the vending machine are still being decided. One of the other campaigns that the club is working on is about sexual health reproductive products. The vending machine that was ordered has room for five products, though certainly including emergency contraceptives. To include anyone’s opinion on what else should be offered in the vending machine, a survey is available at bit.ly/EWUsex or on the Generation Action: EWU facebook page.

“If there is demand for things, they should become available at the end of the day,” Stevenson said.

The Planned Parenthood Generation Action club is a chapter of a national organization of clubs in campuses all over the country that do political activist work as well as outreach and engagement. The club is essentially a project of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“One of the things that Planned Parenthood Generation Action campus chapters do all over the country is not just awareness or condom tabling,” said Stevenson. “It’s also just really activating young people and getting them to understand their political power, and understand they can utilize all of these different tactics and strategies to organize to create change in their communities.”

The club currently consists of four members and they invite students to get integrated and involved.

“We figure if we have more people that are close with one another, working together regularly, then that’s a great way to continue the club,” said Small. “Not everything has to be about a campaign. It can be about getting people together that are like-minded or getting behind similar views and just hanging out.”

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Planned Parenthood Club seeks better access to sexual health products