Posted: November 11, 2015 Contributor: PRJKT RUBY

New Policy Will Help Native Women Gain Greater Access to EC

Often we think that it’s only those in the developing world without equal access to emergency contraception, but in reality, it’s hitting much closer to home.

Since the 2013 federal district court ruling allowed over-the-counter emergency contraception, more women have unblocked access to a backup plan in case their birth control method fails. Unfortunately, however, Native American women (teenagers in particular) have still faced blockades, at least those who rely on Indian Health Services (IHS) for their healthcare.

That’s because a 2014 survey from the Native American Community Board found that 80% of IHS pharmacies sell Plan B over the counter yet only 28% correctly administer it. Furthermore, 11% still require a prescription and 9% don’t offer the medication at all.

The grim statistic that 34% of Native women will be raped in their lifetime is almost double the current average U.S. rate makes the need for EC even more dire.

The new policy, however, requires that all IHS pharmacies, clinics and emergency centers have over-the-counter emergency contraception in stock. Also they must be able to distribute it to women of any age and must have someone available to distribute it if the primary person working in the clinic, pharmacy etc. has religious/moral reasons for not wanting to dispense EC.