Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Health | Law
ACLU: Cheyenne River Sioux women treated just like guinea pigs


""They treat us just like guinea pigs when it comes to Indian Health Services." That's how one woman on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation described the birth of her second child. She is not alone. Today, the ACLU and the ACLU of South Dakota filed a Freedom of Information of Act (FOIA) lawsuit against Indian Health Services (IHS), seeking information about the provision of reproductive health care services to the women of the Cheyenne River Sioux.

For nearly a decade, the women of the Cheyenne River Sioux β€” most of whom depend on IHS for their health care β€” have had to travel at least 90 miles to Pierre, South Dakota, over poorly maintained roads, to be able to give birth at the nearest hospital with an IHS contract (the next closest hospital is 180 miles away). But even worse is the treatment they describe once they get there.

Many women report that they are being told to forgo natural labor and delivery, and instead accept medication to induce labor, either on or before their due dates, at a time selected exclusively by their doctor. They are given little or no counseling β€” indeed, many women say that the first time their doctor spoke to them about induction of labor was on the day they were induced. One young woman told us that shortly after learning she was to be induced, she asked her doctor to wait just one day so that her mother could be with her during the birth of her first child. Her doctor refused.

The threat of forced inductions would at least be reduced if there was a birthing center on the reservation. However, plans to build a new hospital with a birthing center have languished for years. Last year, over $100 million dollars in federal stimulus money was dedicated to finish the project. Yet after years of waiting, the hospital is still not up and running, and these delays just prolong the wait for basic health care."

Get the Story:
Alexa Kolbi-Molinas and Robert Doody: "They Treat Us Just Like Guinea Pigs." (RH Reality Check 9/27)

Also Today:
ACLU lawsuit seeks information on pregnancy care (AP 9/27)

Related Stories:
ACLU sues IHS for information on induced labor for Indian women (9/27)