Area colleges and universities have different reasons for not making an emergency contraceptive recently in the headlines available on their respective campuses.
Shippensburg University has come under scrutiny after it was reported earlier this week the college dispenses Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive through a vending machine housed in a private room in its student health center.
University President Bill Ruud released a statement Thursday saying a student's decision to use the one-dose drug known as the morning-after pill is personal and "based on their own beliefs and values."
The university is evaluating its decision for how it dispenses the drug and has contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, inviting officials to review how it is dispensed, Ruud said.
St. Francis University in Loretto does not dispense the drug at all.
"As a Catholic institution that respects the sanctity of life, we do not offer Plan B at St. Francis through our student health services," spokeswoman Amanda Drumm said.
Spokesman Jack Coyle said Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, which is also based in the Catholic faith, said it does not provide Plan B to its students either.
"We're a college not a health care facility," he said.
After consulting with Juniata College's campus health and wellness center, spokesman John Wall said the Huntingdon college carries some over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol and Sudafed, but not Plan B, which is available over the counter at nearby pharmacies under federal law.
"We do not offer Plan B, although the personnel at the Health and Wellness Center are available for counseling if students are interested in talking to a health professional about birth control options," he said. "There are several pharmacies close to campus, so when students do come in for counseling, we do tell them where it is available and how to take it."
An opportunity is missed when dispensing the drug privately, he said.
"We can't speak for other colleges and universities, but the availability of the medication is close enough to our campus that it doesn't have to be available directly on campus," he said. "If there is a vending machine or some other process, then the college or university is missing an opportunity to talk to students and counsel them on birth control options and education."
Student identification is needed to access the vending machine at Shippensburg University, and medical, pastoral or counseling is available to students, Ruud said.
Penn State Altoona has offered Plan B through its health center for more than 10 years. Students have a face-to-face consultation that includes education on sexually transmitted diseases and methods of contraception.
Penn State Altoona student Meghin Kerila said she has known some friends who have used Plan B. While having to get the drug makes a woman feel bad, she should have been more careful, she said.
Freshman Stephanie Forcey said there are pros and cons to how available it is to a student. It shouldn't be promoted, but having it available is good, she said.
Blair County Chapter of Citizens Concerned for Human Life President R. Thomas Forr said he was upset with Penn State Altoona for offering the drug.
"Obviously it shows you how really we've cheapened the value of life," Forr said when talking about the matter at Shippensburg in particular. "It cheapens the relationship between a man and a woman."
Forr wondered who was in charge.
"Shouldn't there be an adult in charge? Can't somebody say no?" he said. "Realistically, who is in charge of the university? Just because a bunch of students want something, do you give it to them?"
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.