Sunny Clifford, a 26-year-old Pine Ridge Tribal park ranger, has launched a Change.org petition that seeks to improve the quality of women’s lives by making Plan B available—and affordable—throughout Indian Country. Just months after the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC) published a startling February 2012 report, “Indigenous Women’s Dialogue: Roundtable Report on the Accessibility of Plan B as an Over the Counter (OTC) Within Indian Health Service,” Clifford’s petition is over 100,000 signatures strong and well on its way to meeting its goal of 150,000 signatures. But with just three voting days left, Clifford’s campaign greatly needs your support.

On the Change.org site, Clifford identifies the overwhelming barriers that prevent Native women from obtaining the emergency contraception pill known as Plan B. This over-the-counter pill, sometimes called the morning-after pill, is routinely given to American women after a sexual assault where pregnancy may occur. Despite the fact that 1 out of 3 Native women will experience rape in her lifetime, the Indian Health Service does not make Plan B readily available.

It makes sense that Clifford is using an online petition to create change in Native women’s lives. She first heard of the NAWHERC report documenting the injustice rape victims who seek Plan B on reservations suffer via Facebook. Clifford says she “liked” the NAWHERC page and had been following it closely. Stunned by the content of the roundtable report on Plan B, Clifford decided to try an experiment in her hometown of Kyle, South Dakota.

“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.”

One of the reasons many activists consider Native women’s lack of access to Plan B both a legal issue and a human rights issue is the high incidence of rape in communities where Native women live. With sexual assault occurring in 1 out of every 3 female residents, women on reservations face the same reality women experience in war zones.

“I already knew this statistic of 1 in 3 before the roundtable report,” Clifford says. “I think most Native women are aware without a report that they have a high chance of being raped or sexually assaulted. This statistic is not surprising to me. I live this reality.”


Eisa Ulen, “A 26-Year-Old Lakota Activist Campaigns To Make Plan B Available, Affordable To Native Women,” Indian Country Today Media Network.com, 7/12/12 (via @ethiopienne)

39 Years After Roe v. Wade Latin American & Caribbean Women Struggle for Abortion Rights


[i dig this story in general, but not the title. i understand this comparison to USian laws is connected to transnational experiences many of us have as im/migrants. HOWEVER, comparing our “laws” to make examples of other countries is not the way to go, imho b/c our “laws” are fucked up when it comes to access and support for terminating. This article doesn’t do that necessarily, but the title gives this impression and conflates these topics.]


January 22nd marks the 39th anniversary of one of the most significant legal decisions of the 20th century, Roe v. Wade. This landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion and changed the course of history for women in this country. Yet women in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to struggle for this basic reproductive right.

According to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute this week, 95% of abortions in Latin America are unsafe. In places where abortion is illegal, women often turn to inadequately trained practitioners who employ unsafe techniques or attempt to self-induce abortion using dangerous methods. In Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly one million women are hospitalized each year because of complications from unsafe abortion, and the World Health Organization estimates that one in eight maternal deaths in the region result from unsafe abortion. Poor and rural women are disproportionately affected.

Fear of legal consequences, social stigma, high cost, and lack of access to trained health professionals are major barriers to obtaining safe abortions. Banning abortion does not reduce the numbers of women who attempt it; in fact, the abortion rate is much higher where it is illegal.

Despite these disturbing facts, only 6 of the 34 countries in the region allow abortion without restriction. These countries account for less than 5% of the region’s women ages 15–44.

Over the last decade, gains have been made throughout the region to address unsafe abortion and advocate for decriminalization. In 2007, for example, the Mexico City government lifted the ban on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. IPPF/WHR’s Member Association in Mexico, MEXFAM, plays a leading role in providing safe abortion services to women and adolescents. In addition to providing legal abortion services in Mexico City, MEXFAM also works to reduce the public health impact of unsafe abortion in states where the law is more restrictive. MEXFAM’s work to reduce maternal mortality washighlighted just last month by ABC’s “20/20.”

Nearly half of sexually active young women in Latin America and the Caribbean have anunmet need for contraception. Fulfilling this need will not only reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, but also empower women by giving them the freedom to choose when and if they have children. Fulfilling the unmet need for contraception worldwide wouldavert 188 million unintended pregnancies, which would in turn result in 112 million fewer abortions.

Meeting the unmet need for sexual and reproductive health services helps create healthier communities and is a crucial step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.