I had a plan to write a column that was going to make the Anchorage municipal elections coming up be the sexiest, most riveting thing you've ever read. Then someone did something stupid in Juneau, so you'll have to wait a week while I sort this doofus out.
First, the reporting on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders from Kyle Hopkins and Marc Lester for the Anchorage Daily News has been incredible. Disturbing, and incredibly needed. Two percent of children born in Alaska have FASD. We need solutions and education. Sadly, we have a "think tank" formed by Sen. Pete Kelly that is sitting on empty.
Last week, Kelly, in an interview with Hopkins, revealed his plan to end this preventable disease. Educating the public through a media campaign about drinking while pregnant sounds like a great idea. OK, so there's a fume in the think tank. Training mentors in communities to deal with women drinking during pregnancy seems reasonable.
Then Kelly said the state would pay for pregnancy tests in "plastic, plexiglass bowls" to be placed in the ladies rooms of bars and restaurants across the state. You know, so if you're on a date and are about to order a martini, you can excuse yourself to find out if you are pregnant or not. Maybe that makes perfect sense if you're a man.
"Well, I guess you've got a designated driver now," is the new, "honey, we're pregnant!"
Women who are planning for a family aren't taking their pregnancy tests in bars. You know why? Because they are PLANNING for a WANTED child and aren't cocktailing it because they don't want to marinate the fetus. THAT THEY WANT. (Note: They may start because those tests aren't free at the grocery market.)
So someone who is checking at the bar is a different story. It may not be the ideal place to get the news that you're going to be a mom. I suggest Planned Parenthood because the trained folks there talked me off the ledge when they informed me I was pregnant 18 years ago. Then they asked me if I had a drinking or drug problem or was in an abusive relationship then gave me some vitamins. You know, the stuff a bartender isn't prone to do.
The disconnect is astounding.
When Hopkins asked the senator if he would support free birth control in bars he answered "no." Because the thinking is a little opposite. This assumes that if you know (you are pregnant) you'll act responsibly. Birth control is for people who don't necessarily want to act responsibly.
"I'm not going to tell them what to do. Or help them do it. That's their business. But if we have a pregnancy because someone just doesn't know, that's probably a way we can help."
Yes. The senator thinks women who use birth control are doing so to be irresponsible. How is that even possible? Controlling your fertility is the most fiscally and morally responsible thing you can do as a woman.
Kelly doubled down defining publicly funded birth control as "a level of social engineering that we don't want to get into."
Social engineering? But putting a bouquet of EPT tests in bar bathrooms isn't social engineering?! Cutting the funding of birth control to low-income women isn't social engineering?!
A few weeks ago, Sen. Fred Dyson balked at funding birth control because we shouldn't be paying for people's "recreation." Yeah. But we do want to fund their pregnancy tests? Oh, and through Medicare and the VA and IHS we pay for Viagra and Cialis. Any calls to defund that? Erections have consequences.
I swear, if men could get pregnant you could buy a Plan B latte at Starbucks.
Children can survive and heal from horrible things in their lives -- sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse, illness. They cannot recover from FASD. The damage is permanent. They don't grow that part of their brain back. We prosecute people who hurt kids but not women who knowingly drink when they are pregnant.
I hate abortion. Absolutely hate it. I would love it if abortion clinics were closed all across the country because there was zero need for them. That isn't going to happen. I hope this isn't breaking news but people like to have sex. I know. Shocker.
Republicans in Juneau don't understand a great way to end abortion is to prevent pregnancy. And a great way to end FASD is to make sure women who are binging have education and access to affordable prevention and treatment.
I realize math is hard for many of our representatives in Juneau (yeah, giving away billions doesn't help the coffers.)
Let me break it down.
Boy + Girl - birth control = baby.
Girl + alcohol - birth control = FASD.
Get some higher octane in the "think tank" and get a real solution.