An Alaska lawmaker on a mission to eradicate fetal alcohol syndrome is defending his plan to provide state-funded pregnancy tests in bars in case birth control fails “chronic drinkers.”
State Sen. Pete Kelly (R) said Monday before the Alaska Senate that birth control may not protect Alaskan women who drink regularly from getting pregnant.
“If you have people who are binge drinking or chronic drinkers, we’re hesitant to say ‘use birth control as your protection against fetal alcohol syndrome,’ because again, as I say, binge drinking is a problem,” he said. “If you think you can take birth control and then binge drink and hope not to produce a fetal alcohol syndrome baby, you may be very wrong. Sometimes these things don’t work. Sometimes people forget. Sometimes they administer birth control improperly, and you might produce a fetal alcohol syndrome baby.”
State Sen. Berta Gardner (D) then asked to correct the record to reflect that birth control is used as a protection against pregnancy, not fetal alcohol syndrome.
Kelly told the Anchorage Daily News last week that the assumption behind his push to put pregnancy tests in bars and restaurants is “if you know you’re pregnant, you won’t drink.” But he said he would oppose making free birth control similarly available.
“This assumes that if you know (you are pregnant) you’ll act responsibly,” he told the Anchorage Daily News. “Birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”
Another Alaska lawmaker, state Sen. Fred Dyson (R), expressed a similar sentiment earlier this month. Dyson told his Senate colleagues that he believed birth control is already readily accessible to women in the state, and that he opposes expanding family planning services because taxpayer dollars shouldn’t “finance other people’s recreation.”
h/t Huffington Post
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.