Santee Sioux Chair on Current Reservation Abortion Laws
By Aaron Bonderson , Report for America Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
July 6, 2022, 5 p.m. ·
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Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, 24 senators urged President Biden to ensure American’s right to an abortion, according to a letter sent to the president. One part mentioned “using federal property and resources to increase access to abortion.”
A separate Supreme Court ruling states that non-natives can be prosecuted for violating state law on Native American land, which is federally owned. That and pushback from Native American spokespeople make it unlikely for an abortion clinic to open on reservation land.
Roger Trudell is chair of the Santee Sioux Nation based in Niobrara, Nebraska. The tribal health system currently follows federal guidelines from the Indian Health Service on abortion.
“The current guideline is abortions will be allowed, if it's a matter of life and death for the mother, or you have a pregnancy based upon rape or incest,” Trudell said.
The rule stems from the Hyde Amendment. Hyde states that federal funds cannot be used for most abortion services.
The Indian Health Service has yet to change their recommendations since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Trudell said it’s possible the tribal government could enact its own rule for its citizens.
“The rights of the woman I think are important when it comes to their control over their own bodies,” Trudell said. “If Indian Health Service comes up with some type of policy that doesn't really meet what we would think is appropriate for women, then we may try to adopt something that would allow for the women to express their rights.”
Santee Sioux doesn’t currently have the facilities or personnel to conduct abortions through its health system, Trudell said.
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