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Barriers to Accessing Reproductive Health Care Services for Indigenous Women in the United States: A Call for Research and Action

Victoria Araiza


Access to reproductive health care is a major determinant and contributing factor for women’s health. This form of care includes many different facets, such as access to cervical and breast cancer screenings and abortion services. Although this is a form of care that is necessary for women to have access to, many face barriers to receiving such services. In recent years, much research has been done to examine the many obstacles to receiving good quality reproductive health care that women of racial/ethnic minority groups (such as Hispanic, Asian, and African American) face while living in the U.S. Additionally, there is much research regarding what necessary actions and programs can be implemented to help individuals combat these obstacles. These measures include working to reduce geographic barriers, provide culturally competent practitioners, and eliminating financial obstacles that specifically these women face. However, while these strides have been made among these minority groups, indigenous women have not been included in this exploration. There has been a tremendous lack of research regarding barriers to reproductive health care that specifically Indigenous women in the U.S. face, and for interventions to help improve access to these services. This paper examines the tremendous geographic barriers, lack of culturally competent providers, and financial obstacles that other minority women face, to begin to gauge an understanding of what Indigenous women experience when accessing reproductive health services. After much research, results indicate that Indigenous women living in the U.S. are in need of reproductive health services, and likely face similar barriers to care that other minority women experience. More future research will be needed towards the specific barriers that indigenous women face, as well as towards cultural beliefs and lifestyles, to ensure that interventions are properly designed/implemented for this intended group.

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