Alaska State Senator Pete Kelly, co-chair of the Alaska Senate Finance Committee, while rejecting the use of birth control has came out publicly in a campaign to promote Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Awareness through the use of pregnancy tests in Alaska's bars.
In an interview with an Anchorage Daily News reporter, Sen. Kelly stated, “So if you’re drinking, if you’re out at the big birthday celebration and you’re kind of like, ‘Gee, I wonder if I…?’ You can just go in the bathroom and there should be a plastic, plexi-glass bowl in there, and that’s part of the public relations campaign, too. You’re going to have some kind of card on there with a message.”
Kelly believes that a state-wide effort to combat FASD through the use of pregnancy tests tests in the restrooms of bars and other establishments is a great idea and intends on pushing the outreach program.
But, when asked about offering the same resources for birth control, Kelly replied, “Birth control is for people who don’t necessary want to act responsibly. I’m not going to tell them what to do or help them do it. That’s their business.”
When the paper pointed out that perhaps people considering using birth control were acting responsibly, Kelly replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
In Alaska, it is estimated that the use of birth control would reduce the number of abortions in the state by approximately 360 a year as well as reduce the rate of sexually transmitted disease, of which, in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, the state of Alaska leads the nation.
Kelly’s comments come two weeks after his colleague Senator Fred Dyson suggested that women in the state should stop drinking lattes if they can’t afford birth control.
When it was explained to Dyson that birth control for a woman of 25 to take birth control through her child-bearing years would cost an estimated $46,650 by the age of 51, Dyson said, “My guess is that most of those women, if they weren’t able to pay, their partner would be able to. I don’t see the costs being that big of an issue, in reality.”
It should also be noted that both Senator Kelly and Dyson are co-sponsors of a new definition of Senate Bill 49, the new wording to that bill would bar low-income women from using Medicaid to fund abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or to “avoid a threat of serious risk to life or physical health of a woman.”
State Democratic legislators added an amendment to this bill last year allowing 14,000 low-income women without children to be covered by Medicaid for STD testing and birth control, but that amendment was stripped from the bill in February by the House Finance Committee.
Alaska opted out of accepting money through the government’s ‘Medicaid expansion. Those funds would have paid for birth control.