A New Policy Will Make Plan B More Accessible To Native American Women

Women’s health advocates have been pushing for a policy that allows easier and more affordable access to the emergency contraception pill, Plan B, in the Native communities for many years, and now it may finally come to fruition.

The Indian Health Service, which is a federal organization, has no retail pharmacies, so historically, Native women who wanted emergency contraception once had to see a health care provider and get a prescription for the medication that was dispensed on site. The medication is free for Native women because of the federal government’s trust obligation to provide health care to them, but due to many factors, the red tape made it often far too difficult to receive the pills. In communities where 1/3 of Native women will be raped in their lifetime, this is especially crucial.

Finally, the federal Indian Health Service has just implemented a new policy this week that requires the morning-after pill to be available to all women of any age over the counter at IHS-run facilities, no questions asked. Bravo!

Charon Asetoyer, the director of the Lake Andes, South Dakota-based Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center says of this new policy:

“This is a very important victory for Native women but also all women in this country, for something like this to occur in a federal agency during this time when there’s so much control by the opposition, by the right-wing. We really have to look at this through a human rights lens that we are not being denied what other women have access to.”