Alaska’s Decided Women Really Need Free Pregnancy Test Dispensers In Bar Bathrooms

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pregnancy -test-positiveIf you’re trying to conceive and worried about the cost of all those pregnancy tests, just head to a bar in Alaska and grab a stack of free ones. Alaska Dispatch News reports several businesses that serve alcohol in Alaska are receiving free pregnancy test dispensers this week as part of a two-year, $400,000 state-funded study on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The study is part of a broader initiative to reduce the number of children born with the disease.

The study aims to determine if posters warning women against drinking while pregnant work better when stuck on pregnancy test dispensers or simply framed on the wall, said David Driscoll, director of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Circumpolar Health Studies, which is leading the study.

The pregnancy test dispensers look just like a tampon dispenser and say, “Remember the last time you had sex? Take a pregnancy test before you drink.” They’re situated next to dispensers for free condoms, which are not funded by the state because, as Alaska Senator Pete Kelly explained last year, “Birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”

I’m as confused as you are.

19 more test dispensers will be installed in bars across the state, with other establishments receiving posters warning patrons of the risks of fetal alcohol syndrome. Researchers will try to gauge the effectiveness of the posters versus the test dispensers by encouraging people to go online and take a brief survey about their ‘experiences’ with the materials in exchange for an i-Tunes gift card.

In six months, researchers will follow up with the participants to assess their “knowledge, attitude, and behaviors.” I feel like they’re being overly optimistic about the likelihood of anyone taking a survey about the experience of using a pregnancy test in a bar bathroom, but who knows? Maybe they need that i-Tunes gift card to buy music for their birthing playlist.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a real problem, but this method of combating the problem just seems absurd to me. I can imagine several ways this data would be skewed, and even beyond that, how dumb do they think women are? We’re so ignorant and irresponsible the fact that we could be pregnant doesn’t occur to us unless there’s someone waving pregnancy tests in our faces?

Perhaps Alaskan officials could invest in some decent sex education prior to adulthood instead of treating all women as ignorant booze hounds. Alaska Dispatch News also talked to a nurse-practitioner who said, “A lot of misunderstanding remains in Alaska about harmful levels of alcohol and overall sexual health.” If legislators want to paper the bar bathroom walls in informational posters and use pregnancy tests as swizzle sticks, fine. But they also need to consider that maybe all of this ignorance and misinformation is their own doing and focus some of those funds on educating their youth and stopping these problems before they start.

(Photo: Shutterstock)