Etter Health Center vs. local pharmacies: which is the better option for students?


The night is young and two Shippensburg lovers are sharing a romantic Valentine’s day evening cozying up by a fire as the candles surrounding them provide a soft glow.

It is the one–year anniversary for these two 20-year-olds, and little do they know that their romantic night will lead to unplanned sexual activity later on.

Since it is spur of the moment, both partners lack the necessary protection but love and lust drive them to consummate their relationship.

The night leads to an uncertain morning. To try and protect herself from getting pregnant, the female student decides that she wants to take the Plan B pill. But where does she go?

Which place is the better option: Etter Health Center located on campus, or local pharmacies?
Does Shippensburg University really just use a vending machine to dispense Plan B whenever a student needs it?

Shippensburg University is facing scrutiny for the way it dispenses the Plan B pill, but after some secret shopping, the ways of obtaining the pill at SU are just the same as at any other pharmacy.

As the SU Plan B controversy gains steam in national headlines, the misconceptions of the way in which SU students obtain this pill has led many to believe that it was too easy or too suspicious. A vending machine? Is the Plan B pill next to the Hershey bar or the Twix?

However, obtaining Plan B from Etter Health Center contrasts the misconceptions.

In a statement issued by Roger L. Serr, vice president for student affairs, “The machine, which vends only health-related items, is in a private room in our health center and the health center is accessible only by students,” Serr said.

“There is one machine only and the medication is not available anywhere else on campus,” Serr said.

“In addition, no one can walk in off the street and go into the health center. Students proceed to a check-in desk located in the lobby and after checking in using appropriate identification are granted access to the private treatment area,” Serr said.

The standards for obtaining Plan B were the same at SU as they were at any other pharmacy in the area.

Students are not going up to the candy machine and purchasing a Plan B pill with a side of Doritos.
They are following procedure, showing appropriate identification and buying a contraceptive to reduce the risk of pregnancy.

On a shopping trip at a local pharmacy, obtaining Plan B was similar to obtaining it from Etter Health Center, barring any vending machines.

Identification was asked for and presented and the pill was dispensed. It was an in–and–out procedure that lasted approximately five minutes.

“You have to have the same to get it [Plan B] here or anywhere else. There only needs to be proof that you are of the legal age to buy the pill,” said a local pharmacy assistant who asked to remain anonymous for this story.

With Etter Health Center and local pharmacies dispensing the same pill and asking for the same credentials in order to obtain it, the question is —what is the difference?

There is no difference.

When those lovers who shared their romantic Valentine’s night enter Etter Health Center or a local pharmacy, they go through the same routine to obtain the emergency contraceptive.

The only thing that differs is the amount of people who are at the venue to witness it.


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