The Food and Drug Administration is not taking action against Shippensburg University for dispensing Plan B, the so-called “morning after pill,” in a vending machine on campus. Common sense and the best interest of its students, however, should encourage the university to change course.

Shippensburg’s decision to market Plan B to its students the same way as candy or soda irresponsibly ignores the grave implications of a powerful drug that can end the life of a developing human being.

The FDA’s labeling acknowledges that Plan B can prevent implantation,[1] thus killing an embryo—a unique human being.

Promoting the so-called “contraceptive mandate,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius has admitted that the FDA’s definition of “contraception” is not limited to a drug’s ability to prevent conception. “The Food and Drug Administration has a category [of drugs] that prevent fertilization and implantation. That’s really the scientific definition.”[2]

In his most recent study on so-called “emergency contraception,” Dr. James Trussell—whose research has been cited by the FDA—states: “To make an informed choice, women must know that [emergency contraception pills]… may at times inhibit implantation…”[3]

The consequences of “inhibiting implantation” are more serious than this sterile description might imply. In fact, the consequences can be deadly.

Dr. Warren Wallace, a physician at Northwestern University Medical School who has “prescribed emergency contraceptives,” and who was called to testify in support of a law restricting conscience rights pertaining to their prescription, testified under oath that “there is a new unique human life before” implantation of an embryo.[4]

That “new unique human life” dies when a drug like Plan B prevents its implantation.

In addition to having its implications downplayed, Plan B’s effectiveness has been overstated.  Recent studies show that Plan B “prevent[s] fewer pregnancies than reported by the [World Health Organization].”[5] Even proponents of so-called “emergency contraception” are acknowledging that “increased use [of Plan B] has not reduced rates of unintended pregnancies.”[6]

Shippensburg promotion of Plan B, a drug which does nothing to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, creates a false sense of security.  The convenience of the campus vending machine may encourage students to engage in risky behavior that will have life-long consequences.

Moreover, men who abuse women and girls have also been known to give such drugs to their victims to cover their crimes. The vending machine at Shippensburg University removes even the limited protection or accountability that having to interact with another human being to obtain the drug might afford.

The university’s decision to sell Plan B in a vending machine is a win for the drug’s manufacturer, but a loss for the students.

[1] Plan B Approved Labeling, available at

[2] Kelly Wallace, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Tells iVillage “Historic”New Guidelines Cover Contraception, Not Abortion, iVillage, Aug. 2, 2011 available at (last visited Feb. 5, 2013).

[3] J. Trussell et al., Emergency Contraception: A Last Chance to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy, Office of Population Research at Princeton University (June 2010).

[4] Transcript of Bench Trial at 91-92, 111, Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Quinn, 2012 IL App (4th) 110398 (Ill. App. Ct. Sept. 20, 2012).

[5] Glasier et. al, Ulipristal acetate versus levongestrel for emergency contraception: a randomized non-inferiority trial and meta-analysis, 375 The Lancet 555 (Jan. 2010).

[6] Id.