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Imagine being denied emergency contraception after a sexual assault; to not even be informed about the steps you can take to prevent an unwanted pregnancy; and to later find yourself pregnant as a result of the rape.

For thousands of Native American women this is reality.

That is why the ACLU and NACB have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Indian Health Services (IHS) seeking information on policies governing access to over-the-counter emergency contraception (sometimes known as “Plan B”) at IHS facilities and demanding to know what steps the government is taking to solve this problem.

Did you know 34.1 percent or more then 1 in 3 Native American women will be raped in their lifetime? Native American women experience sexual assault at a higher rate than all other U.S. populations, which is one reason why it is essential that they have access to Plan B.

According to FDA guidelines, Plan B is available to women 17 and older OTC. If used within 120 hours, EC can safely prevent pregnancy after contraceptive failure, unprotected sex, or sexual assault. But EC is most effective the sooner it is taken, with effectiveness decreasing every 12 hours.

Although Plan B has been available without a prescription to adult women since 2006, 90 percent of Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities do not provide Plan B OTC to the Native American women they serve. Given the rural locations of many reservation communities, if EC is unavailable at the IHS facility the next closest commercial pharmacy may be hundreds of miles away and transportation costs may be insurmountable, making timely access to EC difficult, if not impossible for too many women.

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