Mary Annette Pember: Emergency contraception finally at IHS

The Pine Ridge Service Unit in South Dakota. Photo from Dean Kurtz Construction

Independent journalist Mary Annette Pember reports on the final adoption of the long-awaited emergency contraceptive policy at the Indian Health Service:
“We have been fighting for this for over five years,” said Charon Asetoyer, director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC) in Lake Andes, South Dakota.

The updated policy was released after more than two years since a 2013 federal court ordered the Food and Drug Administration to approve Plan B as an over-the-counter drug for women of all ages without a prescription.

The NAWHERC has published several surveys exposing a lack of coordinated policies among Indian Health Service Clinics regarding dispensing the pill. Some clinics, according to the surveys, required women to be at least 18 years old, required a doctor’s prescription or did not offer the medication at all.

Citing U.S. Justice Department statistics that one in three Native women is raped in her lifetime, Asetoyer said, “Given the statistics on rape, Indian Health Service should be doing everything they can to reduce the residual trauma of sexual assault.”

IHS clinics are required to provide health care and medication, including plan B, free of charge to Native Americans in the U.S.

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Emergency Contraception Finally Available Through All IHS Facilities (Indian Country Today 10/19)

Relevant Documents:
Indian Health Service Emergency Contraception Policy | Press Release: ACLU CALLS FOR STRONG ENFORCEMENT TO ENSURE ACCESS FOR WOMEN

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