- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Alaska state senator is making it his mission to help eradicate fetal alcohol syndrome by providing taxpayer-funded pregnancy tests in bar bathrooms, just in case a woman needed to check before she strapped on a few.

“You grab one. Literally, you can go into the bathroom at the bar and test,” state senator and Senate Finance co-chairman Pete Kelly told the Anchorage Daily News last week.

The measure is part of a multimillion dollar campaign, led by the Republican, in an effort to curb fetal alcohol syndrome in Alaska.

“So if you’re drinking, you’re out at the big birthday celebration and you’re like, ‘Gee, I wonder if I …?’ You should be able to go in the bathroom and there’s that plastic, Plexiglas bowl in there and that’s part of the public relations campaign, too,” he said. “With the consent of the other senators, I’m going to put some money in the budget to fund these things.”

When asked by the newspaper if he would support free birth control in bars, Mr. Kelly said no.

“Because the thinking is a little opposite,” he said. “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,” he said.

Mr. Kelly appeared before the Alaska Senate on Monday to address his proposal.

“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 asked to correct the record to reflect that birth control is used to protect against pregnancy, not fetal alcohol syndrome, Talking Points Memo reported.

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