After reading a report that one in three native women are liekly to be raped in their lifetimes, Sunny Clifford made it her mission to ensure that these women don’t have their sexual assault compounded by becoming pregnant. But her research soon showed her that emergency contraception was extremely hard to access for these women, even with the assistance of Indian Health Services.
“I wasn’t aware that I could get Plan B from IHS and therefore tried to obtain it on my own to see what the process was,” she says. When asked why she attempted to access Plan B since she was not in need of the medication for her own personal use, Clifford explains, “I was compelled because I was now aware that I could get Plan B from IHS, which I wasn’t aware of prior to the report.”
When she went to the IHS office in Pine Ridge, Clifford says she was told that the midwife was unavailable and that she would have to travel about 40 miles, each way, to get Plan B. “When I was told I had to drive so far to get Plan B I felt frustrated and as if nobody cared,” Clifford says. “I do feel like women who need access to Plan B and don’t have the resources, such as a vehicle or gas money, are dehumanized.”
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Clifford wasn’t alone in her experience. She learned soon that other women were having the same issue, being told they needed to see a doctor, have a prescription, or otherwise have their access cut off. Now Clifford is petitioning the IHS to allow Plan B to be available over the counter, as it is throughout the country.
Clifford’s petition already has over 100,000 signatures, all asking Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, the Director of Indian Health Services, to make the medication available over the counter.