Second-rate Care at Indian Health Service

ABC 6 ran this story
from AP…

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Months after the federal Indian Health Service said it was finalizing a policy that would make emergency contraception more accessible to American Indian women, advocates say they’re still waiting. And in the meantime, Native women face a patchwork of policies at hospitals and clinics that don’t always ensure timely access to the medication.

Across the country, any woman 17 or older can buy emergency contraception from behind the counter at retail pharmacies. But the Indian Health Service has no retail pharmacies. Instead, Native women must visit a clinic, urgent care facility or emergency room and have a consultation before being prescribed the medicine that is dispensed on-site.

As we all know, the effectiveness of emergency contraception diminishes with time from pregnancy risk to taking the pill.

Plan B One-Step provides a significant decrease in the risk of pregnancy when taken within 3 days (72 hours) however recent research shows Plan B One-Step continues to provide some effectiveness when taken up to 5 days (120 hours). Consider the use of emergency contraception if any of the following have occurred:

Consensual, unprotected vaginal intercourse
Condom broke or came off
Three or more hours late taking progesterone only pills (mini pill)
Missed one or more birth control pills during week one of a 21 day or 28 day pill pack
Missed three or more birth control pills during weeks two or three of a 21 day or 28 day pill pack
Two or more days late starting new pill pack, vaginal ring or patch
Nuvaring® has been out of the vagina for three hours or longer (weeks one, two or three)
Patch (Ortho Evra) has been off 24 hours or longer (weeks one, two or three)
Diaphragm slipped out of place
Depo-Provera injection was more than 13 weeks ago
On antibiotics (in the previous seven days) during your current cycle of pills, patch or ring.

Emergency contraception is also the standard of care in medical treatment of rape victims- a standard that is not kept in every hospital. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists who claim ‘conscience’ are able to deprive women of the right to make their own moral decision in a crisis, and they do this in spite of law or under cover of a ‘conscience clause’.

The ‘free birth control’ in the Affordable Care Act is not reaching native women. The Obama administration bears some responsibility for this bureaucratic stall on a basic health need. Governor Romney said in the last debate that every American woman has a right to contraception, but his record shows he won’t stand up for women, especially poor and minority women, in this political climate.

It’s hard to accept that in the year 2012 we are having to fight these battles again– against rape, for access to contraception. But patriarchy, and inequality are woven into our culture, and will not be unravelled in one generation.

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