DENIAL OF CONTRACEPTION FOR NATIVE AMERICAN RAPE SURVIVORS SPURS ONLINE CAMPAIGN
Explosive campaign on Change.org calls on Indian Health Services to ensure Native American women can access emergency contraception at reservation clinics.
Women report being denied emergency contraception at IHS clinics after being raped; 1 in 3 Native American women will be raped in their lifetime.
WASHINGTON, DC – More than 50,000 people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org calling on Indian Health Services, the agency responsible for providing health services for all reservations across the nation, to ensure access to emergency contraception at all reservation clinics.
Sunny Clifford, a 26-year-old Lakota woman who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota, launched the campaign on Change.org after she was told she would have to drive an hour each way to another clinic to receive the medication.
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 requires IHS to make emergency contraception available over the counter to any woman who is 17 or older, like the rest of the US. However, a recent study by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center concluded that women on Native American reservations across the country have difficulty accessing emergency contraception.
“I couldn’t get emergency contraception when I needed it, and I know other women who have been told they need a prescription, which isn’t true, or that the clinic doesn’t keep it in stock,” said Clifford, who started the campaign on Change.org. “One in three Native women is raped, and it's terrifying to know I might not be able to prevent a pregnancy if I become a part of that statistic. I am an American woman and a Lakota woman, and IHS is denying me a right I should have as both.”
For every new signature on Clifford’s petition, an email is sent to Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, director of Indian Health Services, who can issue a mandate to all clinics that emergency contraception be kept in stock and issued upon request.
“More than 15,000 petitions were started on Change.org this past month, but Sunny’s campaign is one of the fastest-growing and has earned the support of over 50,000 men and women across the country,” said Shelby Knox, campaigner at Change.org. “It’s clear that this story about Native American women's lives is resonating with people.”