Is this just a way to shame women for drinking?
A Republican State Senator in Alaska has finally figured out how to put an end to his state's fetal alcohol syndrome epidemic, by doing the most logical thing possible: putting pregnancy tests in bars. That way, in between your second and third beer (because obviously no one goes to the loo before that), you can find out whether or not you're pregnant and should regret those previous two beers. How it is that no one has come up with this ingenious way to keep pregnant mothers from drinking is beyond me. Someone please give Republican State Senator Pete Kelly a medal. He is so clearly deserving of it.
You might be scoffing at the idea, because yes, it really is that absurd, but as of December of this year, it's going to become a reality in 20 bars and restaurants in the Anchorage area. The program is set to last two years and, according to an interview Kelly gave in March, is meant to cut the "Gee, I wonder if I —?" out of your usual Friday night out with the ladies. Seriously. Then man told Anchorage Daily News back in March THAT; those were his exact words.
If you haven't already guessed it, Senator Kelly is adamantly against abortion and doesn't believe in providing women easier access to birth control. But what he does believe in is women at least knowing if they're pregnant thanks to his handy dandy, bar bathroom pregnancy tests. It doesn't matter that of the 50 states, Alaska has the highest rate of FASD or that women are 20 percent more likely to binge drink in that state than any other, because alcohol isn't really the issue. It's all those women "who don’t want to act responsibly," who pretty much allow themselves to be put in these situations of unwanted pregnancy. Why waste taxpayer funds on alcohol treatment centers or education about the perils of alcohol abuse? Kelly’s "solution" is anything but that, and, if anything, is just contributing to the problem.
My friend Colleen Bailey, a morning radio host, burlesque dancer, and overall woman about town, lives and works in Anchorage and, like me, is far from impressed with Kelly's attempt at putting an end to fetal alcohol syndrome:
"I think it's a gross misappropriation of state funding. If Alaska has a higher rate of FASD in children, it's a direct result of lack of education and resources for alcoholics and comprehensive sex education. Pregnancy tests in bar bathrooms are not going to be effective at all. A home pregnancy test detects the presence of HCG in the urine, which doesn't register as positive until at least 5-6 weeks into a pregnancy. A person can take a pregnancy test in a bar, watch it register negative, but actually, in fact, be pregnant."
Bailey also pointed out that Kelly refused to fund free birth control, like condoms in bars, (which is pretty much how most of New York City stays safe), because he claimed that it promoted irresponsible behavior.
"It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," says Bailey. "If the state really wants to prevent the occurrence of FASD in Alaskan babies, the solution is not shaming women for drinking, it's promoting safe sex for everyone, making birth control free or at the very least affordable for low income persons, and improve comprehensive sex education."
I'm not a religious person, but AMEN.
Pregnancy tests in bars is just one more way for Republicans to keep their control over women's reproductive organs, as opposed to giving us the liberty to make choices for ourselves. Access to birth control and education are the keys to success if we're to stop fetal alcohol syndrome, but that's something the "Uterus Police," as The Frisky's Claire Hannum calls them, have yet to understand. If only Republicans could "police" other things, like, say, oh, I don't know … maybe gun control? Then, finally, we'd be getting somewhere.
What do you think about pregnancy tests in bars? Tell us in the comments below.