Human Rights, Reproductive Justice, Native Americans, Accountability


This article has three purposes: the first is to bring to light current violations of Native American women’s basic right to health as these violations are produced by the federal government and imposed through the Indian Health Service. The second is to articulate the challenges of current human rights discourse in articulating and providing for Native Americans’ human rights within the United States. Third, this article offers a potential strategy for understanding and redressing the violation of Native women’s right to health through the rubric of reproductive justice. Drawing from over ten years of participant observation as well as semi-structured interviews with Native women and Native health activists, descriptive policy analysis, and discourse analysis, I find that the United States has failed to meet its treaty obligations to Native nations as well as its international obligations to the human rights community. Further, the international human rights community has failed to hold the U.S. accountable for these failures. The emphasis in reproductive justice on community identity and the social contexts of health and healthcare, however, offer a possible framework that may be productive in addressing these failures.