In the US, women age 17 and over have the legal right to get emergency contraception -- sometimes called Plan B or “the morning after pill -- over the counter and without a prescription at their pharmacy.
But not, it seems, if you're Native like me. I live on a reservation in South Dakota and when I went to get emergency contraception, the IHS workers told me I'd need to drive to a clinic over an hour away. I don't have a car and neither do many people on the rez.
It turns out this is happening all over the country to Native women- a recent roundtable report by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center found that women are often told they have to see a doctor or have a prescription to get EC. Some find that the pill isn’t in stock on their reservation. I even heard about a woman who was raped who was shamed and then turned away.
This is especially alarming in light of the fact that 1 in 3 Native American women will be raped in their lifetime. I haven't become a statistic but I live in fear that if the worst happened, I wouldn't even have the resources to prevent a pregnancy.
There’s a simple fix to this problem. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, the Director of Indian Health Services, can issue a directive to all service providers that emergency contraception be made available on demand -- without a prescription and without having to see a doctor -- to any woman age 17 or over who asks for it.
Please sign this petition to ask Dr. Roubideaux to issue this directive and to alert the Department of Health and Human Services, which has oversight over her and IHS, to the situation. Native women deserve and demand equal access to basic reproductive health care!