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Native American Women Still Lack Access To Emergency Contraception

Audio

Aired 10/26/12

Back in May 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.

— In May 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.

Across the country, any woman 17 or older can buy Plan B -- or emergency contraception -- from behind the counter at retail pharmacies. But the Indian Health Service doesn’t have retail pharmacies.

Native American women must visit a clinic, urgent care facility or emergency room and have a consultation before being prescribed the medicine.

In May, the Indian Health Service’s chief medical officer said the agency was working on a new policy aimed at allowing its facilities to give Plan B directly to patients. But that policy hasn’t been released yet, and until it is, Native women face inconsistent rules.

An IHS spokeswoman told the Associated Press, “IHS is in the process of standardizing our procedures to ensure patients have access to the medicines they need.”

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