FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2016
Senator Berta Gardner proposes simple legislation to improve access to birth control, lessen dependency on government programs, and reduce abortion
JUNEAU – Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) has introduced Senate Bill 156, which would require health insurance providers in the state to provide 12 months of prescription oral contraceptives at a time. It would also instruct the state to apply for a Medicaid plan amendment allowing family planning services for Medicaid recipients.
Currently, women who use oral contraceptives must return to the pharmacy every month to three months to refill their prescriptions. This can be challenging for Alaskan women, particularly in rural areas. After an initial 3-month trial prescription, this bill would allow women to refill their prescription once a year instead of once a month.
“Last week some members of the legislature attended an anti-abortion rally on the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I want to tell them that the best, most cost-effective and least controversial way to dramatically reduce abortion is to prevent unintended and unwanted pregnancies by supporting improved reliable access to birth control,” said Sen. Gardner. “I am hopeful that reducing abortion, and improving the health and economic wellbeing of Alaskan families are issues that we can agree upon.”
Access to consistent and reliable birth control allows women to control family planning, and thereby reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies, 40% of which end in abortion. It has been shown that women who are provided a consistent 12-month supply of oral contraceptives have 46% fewer abortions than women who have to get refills every month.
Unintended pregnancy has a profound effect on the economic opportunity and the overall well-being of Alaskan families. It is associated with increased health risks for both mother and child, and a greater likelihood that a family will sink into poverty and become dependent on government services. Unintended pregnancy is a dramatic cost driver to public health programs.
Nationally, 51% of all US births and 68% of unplanned births in 2010 were paid for by public insurance through Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the Indian Health Service.
“Passage of this simple proposal will mean a dramatic improvement in quality of life and health for women, a significant reduction in dependency on government-funded social programs, and a reduction in the number of abortions in the state. It makes sense for Alaskan women, families and the bottom line,” said Sen. Gardner.
For more information contact Jeanne Devon, Press Secretary for the Alaska Senate Democrats, at 465-5319.