By: Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, 20 March 2014
Accessed on: 6 April 2014
Commentary by: Sarah Cibart
FASD prevention is a mission shared by citizens and lawmakers alike. However, the path to achieving the mission varies and could be considered quite controversial.
Pete Kelly, finance co-chairman senator has declared his mission to end FASD through a campaign he’s calling a “war on FASD.” His plan includes: publically funded pregnancy tests in restaurants and bars in Alaska, millions of dollars towards “FASD awareness”, recruiting “citizen helpers” to counsel women to stop drinking before and during pregnancy, as well as further developing ideas in the anti substance abuse “think-tank board” Kelly created earlier this year in Alaska.
“The idea here is that the community is involved, the private sector is involved and the government is involved” says Kelly.
When Hopkins asked senator Kelly if birth control would be equally as accessible as pregnancy tests in Alaskan bars after the “FASD war” had begun, Kelly responded saying “No. Because the thinking is a little opposite. This assumes if you know [you are pregnant] you’ll act responsibly. Birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”
Such arguments suggest the primary goal in FASD prevention is changing the behaviours of individual women, rather than considering the larger systemic impacts that contribute to women drinking while pregnant. Although access to pregnancy tests and community counseling may be helpful, greater access to birth control and increasing education surrounding FASD would also be an efficient use of resources.
I suggest watching the full interview Hopkin’s has with Kelly. For further reading, check out Shannyn Moore’s opinion piece in response to Kelly’s campaign at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannyn-moore/free-ept-tests-in-alaska_b_5015941.html