FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 30, 2016
Birth Control Bill Passes Out of Health & Social Services Committee
JUNEAU – On January 22, 2016, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) introduced Senate Bill 156, which would allow health insurance providers in the state to provide women 12 months of prescription hormonal contraceptives at a time.
Today SB156 had its second hearing in the Senate Health and Social Services committee and was passed out of the committee by unanimous vote. It will now move on to the Senate Labor and Commerce committee, chaired by Senator Mia Costello.
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 the prescription once a year instead of once a month.
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.
“I’m very pleased that this bill has moved forward with strong bipartisan support,” said Sen. Gardner. “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. In addition, the bill carries a negative fiscal note, saving the state $1.2 million in FY2017 alone. It makes sense for Alaskan women, families and the bottom line.”
For more information contact Jeanne Devon, Press Secretary for the Alaska Senate Democrats, at 465-5319.