Plan B® National Awareness Campaign
Our Goal is to ensure that Plan B® is available as an over-the-counter pharmaceutical for all Native women, and to incorporate access to the drug into standardized sexual assault policies. We also seek to inform Native women of their right to Plan B® so that they are able to make informed decisions regarding their reproductive health.
What is Plan B®? Plan B® is an emergency contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. A form of back up contraceptive, often known as the "morning after pill," Plan B® can be used in situations including when a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, had unexpected unprotected sex, missed two or more birth control pills or a condom broke or failed during sex. When taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B® is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy, and when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B® is 89% effective. Plan B® contains levonorgestrel, a hormone that prevents ovulation and fertilization by thickening or changing the lining of the uterus. Plan B® is a preventative measure, and will not affect or terminate an already existing pregnancy. It also does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Any person 17 years of age and older has the right to access Plan B® over the counter (OTC) without a doctor's prescription.
|Update - Plan B One-StepTM: Plan B® now comes in a single pill. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Plan B One-StepTM, which is a single pill containing 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel, that signficantly reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Previous emergency contraceptives required women to take two pills; one was taken as soon as possible and the next one, 12 hours later. Having to take only one pill increases the simplicity and convienence for women in need of a back-up contraceptive. Plan B One-StepTM works in the same method and has the same guidelines as described above. For more information, visit http://www.planbonestep.com/.|
December 1, 2010
The Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC) is announcing a public awareness campaign that calls for rightful access to Plan B® through Indian Health Service (IHS), especially for survivors of sexual assault. Following a NAWHERC Survey Report and Roundtable Report, this campaign aims to address the erroneous actions exhibited by the Indian Health Service's inability to provide adequate healthcare choices to Native women, regarding their sexual health and reproductive rights.
Although Plan B® has been available without a prescription to adult women since 2006, the NAWHERC survey found that it is not provided over-the-counter (OTC) at 90% of IHS pharmacies. This alarming percentage clearly documents that IHS pharmacies are not abiding by the FDA’s decision to make Plan B® available OTC to any woman 17 years of age and older. Furthermore, the survey also revealed that 40% of IHS pharmacies provide Plan B®, but only by prescription. This is highly problematic as the efficacy of Plan B® is extremely time-sensitive, and requiring a woman to wait long hours at the clinic to see a healthcare provider could greatly reduce the effectiveness of Plan B®.
Currently, IHS facilities lack standardized policies and immediate access to Plan B® for survivors of sexual assault, which violates the reproductive rights of Native women. Only 56% of IHS facilities provide victims of rape with access to Plan B®, whereas an additional 17% of IHS facilities provide a different though less effective and more physically stressful prescription form of emergency contraception. Even more shocking is the fact that 12.5% of IHS facilities provide absolutely no form of emergency contraception.
Given the rural locations of many reservation communities, IHS facilities that do not provide immediate emergency contraception severely limit the reproductive freedoms of Native women in those communities. This campaign strives to ensure that emergency contraception, such as Plan B® or its generic equivalent, is available at all IHS facilities OTC to any woman 17 years or older and is incorporated into the IHS sexual assault policies and protocol.
Check out an article published about our campaign in the Lakota Country Times and keep an eye out for the November 2010 front page article in The Circle News!
|What Can You Do To Help? Call your local Indian Health Service pharmacy and demand that they carry Plan B® over-the-counter, as every person age 17 and older has the legal right to fully access this emergency contraceptive. In addition, contact your Tribal Health Board and state legislators and alert them of the need for Plan B® to be fully accessible in Indian Health Service.
Contact the White House and Ask President Obama to support Native women's right to access Plan B® as an over-the-counter contraceptive through Indian Health Service. All women ages 17 and older have this legal right, and Native women should be no exception.
In order for Plan B and other reproductive health services to be uniformly available at Indian Health Service, policies must be changed. The Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center has authored and proposed IHS policies for reproductive health care. These guidelines cover topics including contraceptive, sexual assault procedures and pregnancy-related care, and can be presented to IHS, tribal leaders, legislators and others to show the changes that need to be changed. Click here to read these proposed IHS policies.
|Check out the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center’s 2008 publication ‘A Survey of the Availability of Plan B and Emergency Contraceptives Within Indian Health Service,’ which documented the widespread lack of emergency contraception and access to Plan B within the Indian Health Services. In 2009, a Roundtable discussion among a diverse group of Native American advocates illuminated the gravity of this issue for women throughout Indian Country. The subsequent ‘Roundtable Report on the Availability of Plan B and Emergency Contraceptives Within Indian Health Service’ revealed numerous systematic barriers to comprehensive reproductive healthcare services for Native women.
For more information, call the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center at (605)-487-7072.