FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2017
Senator Berta Gardner Introduces Bill to Allow
Alaskan Women to Purchase Twelve Months
of Oral Contraceptives at a Time
SB53 Designed to Reduce Unplanned Pregnancy, Abortion, and Reliance on Government Services
JUNEAU — Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) has introduced Senate Bill 53, which would require health insurance providers in the state to offer consumers the option to purchase twelve 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. This bill would allow women to refill their prescription once a year instead of once a month or quarterly.
Access to consistent and reliable birth control allows women in Alaska to control family planning, and thereby reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies, roughly 30% of which end in abortion. Women who are provided a consistent 12-month supply of oral contraceptives saw a 46% decline in abortion compared to women who have to get refills every month, according to a University of California study.
“The best, most cost-effective, and least controversial way to dramatically reduce abortion is to prevent unintended and unwanted pregnancies through reliable access to birth control,” said Sen. Gardner. “I am hopeful that reducing abortion, and improving the health and economic well-being of Alaskan families are issues people on both side of the abortion debate can agree on.”
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 for the bottom line,” said Sen. Gardner.
For more information contact Senator Berta Gardner’s office at 907- 465-3881 or the Alaska Senate Democrats’ Press Secretary, Jeanne Devon at 907-465-5319.