Petition Closed
Petitioning Aberdeen Area FOIA Coordinator Ted Troseth and 2 others

Demand Indian Health Services Be Accountable for Cheyenne River Sioux Hospital and Birthing Center

For approximately ten years, pregnant women of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have made the so-called "hell ride,"  an over 90-mile trek to St. Mary's Healthcare Center in Pierre, South Dakota whenever they are ready to give birth. The lucky ones make the journey strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance; the others have to find private transportation, no easy task on the reservation, where the cars are limited and the poverty severe. A higher than average number women choose — or are coerced by doctors — to induce labor, in an attempt to avoid the hell ride altogether.

It seems that the reservation and its 14,200 residents have been without obstetrical facilities since 2001. The overall situation on the reservation is so bad that Fordham law school professor Chi Mgbako compared it to that of women in developing nations.

Supposedly, a hospital and birthing center have been in the works for the reservation for a decade. However, when the ACLU asked the Indian Health Service (IHS) to reveal the plans for the project, they refused. Last fall, the ACLU sued under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Since then, only a few documents have been released to them.

The situation for the women of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is unacceptable.  They deserve access to comprehensive reproductive health care.  Ask the IHS to turn over all documentation relating to the proposed hospital. 

Photo credit: striatic

Letter to
Aberdeen Area FOIA Coordinator Ted Troseth
IHS FOIA Public Liason Raho Ortiz
IHS FOIA Coordinator Janet Ingersoll
Last fall, the ACLU sued the Indian Health Services (IHS) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to release documents related to the proposed hospital for the reservation. Since then, only a few documents have been released to them. Given the dangerous conditions pregnant tribe women currently endure without a birthing center on the reservation, this is unacceptable.

For approximately ten years, pregnant women of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have made the so-called "hell ride," an over 90-mile trek to St. Mary's Healthcare Center in Pierre, South Dakota whenever they are ready to give birth. The lucky ones make the journey strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance; the others have to find private transportation, no easy task on the reservation, where the cars are limited and the poverty severe. A higher than average number women choose — or are coerced by doctors — to induce labor, in an attempt to avoid the hell ride altogether.

The reservation and its 14,200 residents have been without obstetrical facilities since 2001. The overall situation on the reservation is so bad that Fordham law school professor Chi Mgbako compared it to that of women in developing nations.

Women of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe deserve access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Please turn over to the ACLU all documentation relating to the proposed hospital immediately.

Thank you.