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Stephanie Woodard: ACLU sues IHS for records on induced labors

""When I read my baby books, they said I should discuss my birth plan with my doctor and get a tour of the hospital," said a new mother from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, in South Dakota. "But there was nothing for me. Not even a few Lamaze classes. Just congratulations and good luck."

She and other pregnant women from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have needed all the luck they can get. For about 10 years, they've traveled 90-plus miles over rough roads to give birth at St. Mary's Healthcare Center, in Pierre, South Dakota, which provides obstetrical care under contract to the Indian Health Service (IHS), the health care provider for Native Americans nationwide. If fate is on the women's side, they make the so-called "hell ride" strapped to a gurney in one of the few ambulances that serve the tribe's reservation, which is about the size of Connecticut. If lady luck isn't smiling on them, women in labor must scrounge transport in private vehicles, which are rare in the desperately poor area. This is all necessary because their reservation has not had obstetrical facilities since 2001.

In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union requested that the IHS reveal plans for a Cheyenne River hospital and birthing center that's purportedly been in the works for most of a decade and is supposed to be paid for, in part, by stimulus money. The agency failed to cough up any data, so in September 2010 the civil-liberties group filed a federal lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA."

Get the Story:
Stephanie Woodard: Pregnant Sioux Women Face "Hell Rides" to the Hospital, Induced Labors -- and the ACLU Wants to Know Why (The Huffington Post 1/13)

Related Stories:
ACLU: Cheyenne River Sioux women treated just like guinea pigs (9/28)
ACLU sues IHS for information on induced labor for Indian women (9/27)

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