Target: Indian Health Services
Goal: Applaud Indian Health Services for agreeing to offer emergency contraception to Native American women without the necessity of a prescription or physician consultation
The agency that provides health care for Alaskan and Native American women known as the Indian Health Services (IHS) recently announced that it would now offer emergency contraception at its federally-operated facilities to Alaskan Native women and American Indian women without the need for physician consultation or a prescription. This represents a change in policy and stands as a great victory for reproductive health proponents who have been vying to expand access to Plan B for Native American women for years.
Because Indian Health Services does not have any retail pharmacies, Native American women who want emergency contraception must wait for hours at emergency care clinics. They must also fill out a prescription that they receive. Such requirements hinder some of the women who need Plan B from being able to get it within the recommended 72-hour window. Many Indian Health Service-run facilities do not even make emergency contraception available at all. A recent survey conducted by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center concluded that 43 percent of the clinics attended by Native American women did not provide any contraception at all. Native American women are often very unlikely to look for medication at facilities not run by IHS.
Statistics taken by the Department of Justice have shown that nearly one out of every three Native American women is assaulted during her lifetime, which represents the highest rate of sexual assault out of any other racial group in the United States. The IHS has spent years formulating a policy to address these issues and make Plan B quickly available to patients. The policy has yet to be finalized, but IHS told the Associated Press that it has been directed to provide Plan B to females seventeen years and older at pharmacies without the need for a prescription.
This recent development shows that some progress has been made to help Native American women who are victims of sexual assault. There is, however, still room for improvement in the future. Native American girls under the age of sixteen should also have access to emergency contraception because of the high per capita rate of sexual assault in the Native American community. Please sign this petition to commend the IHS for expanding emergency contraception to Alaskan and Native American women. This decision represents a small victory for advocates of reproductive healthcare.
Dear Indian Health Services,
We commend you for your decision to offer emergency contraception to Alaskan Native American and Native Indian women. Recent statistics have shown that nearly one out of every three Native American women is sexually assaulted. This recent decision is a victory for reproductive health advocates and should be applauded.
Although your announcement only expands access to emergency contraception to Native American girls seventeen years and older, it represents some progress towards protecting Native American girls. We commend you.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: bean rgb via Flickr