UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Later this month, people will be able to access free emergency birth control and condoms in a new vending machine at the lesbian bar Dorothy.
The vending machine at Dorothy, 2500 W. Chicago Ave., will be funded and stocked by organizers from Midwest Access Coalition, a non-profit that provides support for people seeking abortions, said the organization’s community and events manager Walker Fitz.
Dorothy co-owner Whitney LaMora and Fitz are still working out the details, but they plan to provide emergency contraceptives, condoms, pregnancy tests and other harm reduction resources free of charge through the machine.
They plan to have it installed in an alcove by the bathrooms before the end of the month, LaMora and Fitz said.
“We see a lot of people who identify in all different ways, and we’d love to help break down a barrier for anyone who may not outwardly appear like they need Plan B or condoms or whatever else,” LaMora said. “We want to give to our community without question.”
Eventually, they hope to stock the machine with a variety of other free resources, including Narcan which can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, LaMora said. They may also include Dorothy merch and pieces from local artists, LaMora said.
“We’d love to fill it with a variety of items, but our focus is definitely how we can save and improve lives in a free way,” LaMora said. “Setting out to be a safe space for everyone means helping to foster people’s ability to stay healthy and safe, while they’re here but also anywhere else.”
LaMora plans to invite artists to decorate the vending machine and “queer it up,” she said. Artists can apply to paint the vending machine here until Sept. 1. The chosen artist will receive $250 for their time and materials.
Organizers from Midwest Access Coalition have previously provided free items and education at events at Dorothy, and proceeds from the bar’s open mic Fruit Salad have gone toward the organization in the past, LaMora said.
“We just deeply believe in their goal to assist people who need an abortion in the Midwest,” LaMora said. “We’re a lesbian bar, but we support people who identify in any way, and we believe everyone should have the right and access to safe abortions.”
Midwest Access Coalition organizers largely focus on helping people access abortion care by providing funding for travel and childcare costs, but they also educate people about reproductive health and try to increase access to contraceptives.
This is the first vending machine Midwest Access Coalition is sponsoring, but the group has increased efforts to provide free contraceptives and other reproductive health items in recent years, Fitz said.
Organizers are speaking with a few other businesses about installing more vending machines in the future, Fitz said. Individuals can also request emergency contraceptives through the organization’s website.
“I’m really excited about this partnership with Dorothy because we want to make sure queer people have access to these resources and feel like they’re being included in conversations about reproductive health,” Fitz said. “People always talk about straight women accidentally getting pregnant and never about a trans couple or someone who’s bi or whoever else.”
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