One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime, but in many Native communities, women have little to no access to emergency contraception.
On most reservations, the only medical facilities are the Indian Health Service centers, federally administered divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services. But according to the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center, only 10 percent of the pharmacies in the IHS offered Plan B. Forty percent only provide Plan B with a prescription, and the other half don’t provide it at all.
Those are depressing truths, but as Colorlines reports, so far even in the face of that evidence IHS is doing nothing to address the fact that Native women effectively have no access to effective emergency contraception.
Given the high number of incidents of sexual assault and the fact that emergency contraception is only effective to prevent a pregnancy if taken within 72 hours–something functionally impossible if you are trying to secure a prescription from a short-staffed clinic or to travel to a clinic sometimes hundreds of miles away first–this story is a mounting civil rights crisis.
We can do something about this though. These kinds of bureaucratic injustices respond to pressure and daylight. Native American women deserve to have access to emergency contraception and that access shouldn’t be dictated by what appears to be now nothing more than institutional inertia.
Photo from meddygarnet via flickr.