Almost everywhere in the United States women ages 17 and older are allowed to legally purchase emergency contraception over-the-counter without a prescription. However, according to a report conducted by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center and a handful of Native American women surveyed by the report, almost all facilities located on reservations in South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona require a doctor’s visit and a prescription in order to obtain the pill.
Some reservation pharmacies carry the “morning after pill” at no additional cost to the prescription but not all have it in stock. The survey reported most women seeking the pill have to travel outside of the reservation and have to pay its full over-the-counter price.
Information about the pill and how to acquire it should be made more publicly known, especially in these areas with a greater need for low-cost contraception. According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetime — a statistic that should support the argument for more access to emergency contraception, not hinder it.
On Monday, a petition that calls to make Plan B One-Step readily available on Native American reservations reached 50,000 signatures. The petition will determine whether or not Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, the director of Indian Health Service, can issue a directive to all service providers that the pill be available without a prescription to any woman aged 17 or over.
Native American women deserve equal access to a commodity that ultimately prevents unwanted pregnancies. There should be a more proactive view of the pill across the nation, and there should never be racial discrimination when exercising women’s rights.