Target: Indian Health Services
Goal: Make emergency contraceptives available to Native women
Despite the fact that the United States legally requires that emergency contraception be available over the counter to all women 17 and over, more than half of the facilities run by Indian Health Services fail to provide emergency contraception. Of those that do, many require a prescription or doctor’s appointment. With more than one in three Native women suffering from sexual assault in their lifetime, the importance of emergency contraceptive availability cannot be understated. The IHS must be held accountable and provide Native women with the legal rights they are guaranteed.
The fact that Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped only makes the issue more pressing, but it doesn’t change the fact that emergency contraception should be available to everyone regardless of whether they are victims of sexual assault. The right of women to plan their families and have control of their reproductive health is an essential, basic right which is guaranteed by the United States. Many places outside of reservations that do provide emergency contraception are so far away that travel cost alone prevents women from accessing them. Of places that do provide emergency contraceptives, there are still a number or roadblocks such as long waiting periods, the requirement of prescriptions, or the fact that many facilities are closed on the weekends. These prevent access during the 120 hour period that emergency contraceptives are effective.
By signing the petition below you will help urge the IHS to make sure emergency contraception is available over the counter to all Native women as required by the Food and Drug Administration.
Dear Indian Health Services,
The inaccessibility of emergency contraception for Native women is unacceptable and must be rectified. Despite sexual assault rates that are double that of any other race, over fifty percent of your facilities do not offer over the counter emergency contraceptives. The ability to plan a family and make decisions about one’s reproductive health is a basic right afforded to all women in the United States.
The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that emergency contraceptives must be available over the counter to all women ages 17 and over. Yet a 2009 NACB report concluded that only 10 percent of your facilities had over the counter emergency contraceptives. On top of that, 37.5 percent only allowed emergency contraception with a prescription. A staggering 53 percent did not offer emergency contraceptives at all. This injustice must be acknowledged and fixed as soon as possible to protect the rights of Native women. Please take action to make emergency contraception available over the counter for all Native women in all locations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tobyotter via Flickr