The Punishing Price of Plan B

By Mahima Vemuganti

Within this past week, I witnessed two of my close friends purchase Plan B.  As they were checking out, I couldn’t help but glance at the price tag- $49.99 before tax. As I was accompanying my friends, I couldn’t help but think back to my friend in high school who had to gamble with potential pregnancy because she couldn’t afford Plan B. 3 weeks later, we found out she was pregnant. My friends in college were able to handle a potentially disruptive situation because they had the privilege to afford to do so, unlike my friend back in high school. Plan B is a good example of systemic injustice because not everyone has equal means to obtain it.

The issue behind Plan B is similar to the injustices individuals experienced during the Civil Rights Movement. Minority groups are placed at a disadvantage from equal opportunity. From police brutality to the sanctions behind the imprisonment of Martin Luther King Jr. as described in Letter, and the availability/affordability to Plan B, systemic injustices encompass a variety of different scenarios.

In-store Emergency Contraception Pills (ECPs) cost anywhere from $40-$60. ECP’s found online, on the other hand, cost an average of $20. The discrepancy between in-store and online ECPs indicates that there is no reason for in-store prices to be as high as they are. Despite online ECPs costing lower than their in-store counterpart, they are less desirable as individuals run the risk of them not being delivered on time. Not to mention, it’s harder to keep the delivery inconspicuous, especially for minors.

Another issue we run into with ECPs is their availability. A 2018 study by the American Society for Emergency Contraception (ASEC) found that only 60% of drug stores carry ECPs. Of the ones that do carry them, 57% lock ECPs in a box, forcing the individual to seek out an employee for assistance.

With its high cost and minimal supply at available drugstores, teens and individuals from low-income communities are placed at a greater disadvantage and run a higher risk of accidental pregnancy. While there are many other factors contributing to higher pregnancy rates within minority and low-income communities, the high cost of Plan B adds fuel to the fire. With a statistical correlation between teen pregnancy and poverty, the punishing price of Plan B further perpetuates this inequality.

4 thoughts on “The Punishing Price of Plan B

  1. I have never looked into ECP’s any further than the actual Plan B product. As I was reading through your post, it really shocked me that only 60% of drugstores carry them. Nearly half of all other drugstores do not, and like you mentioned, that 57% are locked in a box. This is also a deterrence in getting one, as it is already a sensitive situation, and can influence a woman/young girl into not buying one. The price of these products are insanely expensive in-store. It is absurd to me that the prices online are exponentially cheaper. I’m surprised there can be this type of price gap between the two options, as many girls do not have access to the internet, cannot purchase Plan B, thus for obvious reasons, cannot afford the in-store option. This is an extremely sad example of a systemic injustice.

  2. Vemuganti gave us a perfect example of how an existing form of systematic inequality leads to a worse situation. Facing unwanted pregnancy, the most affordable method to terminate it is getting a pack of Plan B, which is sadly beyond the acceptable price range of many low-incomers. They are left with no choice to spend even more on an abortion or having an unexpected baby, which could have been avoided.
    Inequality always reproduces itself, that is why it is systematic. Yet the procedure of its reproduction can be interfered. The punishment from the price of Plan B can be eased or relieved. Vemuganti mentioned in the article that Plan B is of high price and low supply in drug stores. That’s reasonable in the logic of commercial, yet shortsighted in the big picture. The state is supposed to take the welfare of the low-income communities into consideration by providing affordable solution of birth control, that is, an opportunity to make responsible choices.

  3. This really alarms me! I had no idea how expensive Plan B was. Ive never realized this and you are right that this is an example of systemic injustice. I feel that this is not just systemic injustice towards the low-income individuals but also towards women. You see so many people are so against abortions that they try to make it so it is really hard to afford Plan B. Some view Plan B as an abortion and many companies either don’t have them in their stories or make it really expensive due to their beliefs. I’m not going to go into what I believe in about abortions because I know that it is a touchy subject but making Plan B expensive isn’t fair to low-income individuals and women.

  4. I can relate to this story quite well. I was in the same position as a teen and I had to look everywhere for enough money to buy it. The pill is so small and each package only contains one. The price definitely does not have to be that high and it really makes some girls get pregnancies as the example you stated above. If the price was even just $10 less, many many more girls could afford it. I did not think of this to be a systemic injustice though. This is a great off the wall example many do not think about that has a significant impact on society.

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