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Making emergency contraception available to Native American women

Flickr user meddygarnet
The Plan B pill.

There are 12 recognized Native American tribes in Michigan- some 130,000 Native Americans who live throughout our state.

Michigan has the largest population of Native Americans east of the Mississippi.

And in that community---as well as across the nation -- one of the most urgent women's health issues has been access to emergency contraception.

For most American women, it takes a trip to the drug store and anywhere from $30-65 to get the so-called "morning after pill," also known as Plan B.

The dilemma for women who go to Indian Health Services facilities: they have no retail pharmacies, so American Indian and Alaska Native women who needed emergency contraception would have to deal with emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, and that usually adds up to long wait times.

And when you learn the frequency of sexual assault against Native American women, it becomes very clear why this issue is so important.

Although the Federal Government has given a verbal directive to Indian Health Services to give women over age 17 free access to Plan B, there's concern that this is not being evenly handled.

Charon Asetoyer is the founder and Executive Director of the Native American Community Board and the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center located on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota.

She joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

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