7 Things You Need to Know About: Alaska’s State-funded Pregnancy Test Dispensers

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We know, just like you… we couldn’t have just read that header right? They are doing what, in where? Yes, Alaska did just allocate a large sum of money so that some researchers can throw up a couple pregnancy test dispensers in bars around town so some wild, irreverent Alaskan girls could drink and get free pregnancy tests. You think we’re kidding… Kinda. Seriously tho, lets step back and see if we cant straight’in this out. Fact check much? We had too. Here are 7 Things You Need to Know About: Alaska’s State-funded Pregnancy Test Dispensers.

1. This would be a great place for a slow clap… hardly, the news of the study was met with a resounding “Wha tha heck??” Across social media, the news of the 2 year, $400,000 study was unanimously mocked and scuffed at, and the question was posed… “Could the money have been allocated for more productive causes?” Possibly, but to stay objective, we have to state that this is just a study… not an all out resolution. (which reading that aloud, probably doesn’t help much) But in its defense, you gotta scramble a few eggs to make an omelette, even if in this case… they are ostrich size eggs.

2. Remember the last time you did it?  So why the study in the first place? It began in part as a bullet point of a broader initiative to reduce the number of children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It aimed to determine if posters warning women against drinking while pregnant work better when stuck on pregnancy test dispensers, opposed to simply being framed hanging on the wall somewhere. Seems legit, we mean… lets be honest, if there was a free iphone in the bathroom stall underneath the words, “For a good time...” wouldn’t you be more inclined to “Call Sammy”?
Poster Message 2

3. OK, you got our attention… what makes you think this will work? At $400,000, people are gunna need to see a plan. “We’ve experienced success so far…” said Jody Allen Crowe, founder of the nonprofit organization Healthy Brains for Children. Crowe started similar pregnancy test programs in Minnesota and currently has 10 dispensers located in bars, and youth centers throughout the country. Jody Crowe believes the University of Alaska Anchorages study will not only make a difference, but be able to gather the necessary data to provide tangible results.

4. So like, pregnancy tests on every corner? Well actually, only about 19 more test dispensers will be installed in bars across the state, (the businesses must serve alcohol) with other establishments receiving posters warning patrons of the risks of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The program expects to roll out pregnancy test dispensers in communities including Kodiak, Nome and Dillingham. In total, bathroom goers across Alaska will have access to about 5,000 free pregnancy tests and condoms (although the condoms are not state provided). Currently Anchorage has one test dispenser inside of the Peanut Farm, located on Old Seward.

5. If you’re pregnant don’t drink… $400K for that? Initially the study seemed to suggest to alot of people, if you’re trying to conceive and are worried about the cost of all those pregnancy tests, just head to a bar in Alaska and grab a stack of free e.p.t’s. But in an age of 140 characters and 15 second videos, you might understand how the message can be misconstrued. As silly as the idea seems, the issue still remains… we here in Alaska have had a serious problem with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome disorders, which we have among the highest rates in the nation. So no one thinks Alaska’s women are all irresponsible party girls who are at risk of being intoxicated while unassumingly impregnated.  (We know better)

Poster Message

6. Leave it to Alaska, we have the best people on the job… (fingers crossed) Alaska is not the initial state to embark on a debate involving the test dispensers. Like Mr. Crowes programs in Minnesota, there are also pregnancy test dispensers in California and Ohio. “If we could only concentrate on a singular message, says David Driscoll. “That summary would be “If you’re profound don’t drink, and if you’re celebrating use birth control” Mr. Driscoll is the executive of UAA’s Institute of Circumpolar Health Studies and is in charge of the states study.

7. So break it down for us again, like… all the way down. The Alaska legislators granted researchers $400,000, and over the next 2 years they will try to gauge the effectiveness of free hanging anti drinking while pregnant material versus posting the same material with pregnancy test dispensers.

  1.  By encouraging women to visit a website or to call a toll-free number to take a survey, they will be able to get feedback about the effectiveness of the material that prompted the patron to call or log on.
  2. Once online or over the phone, the patron will take a brief survey about their ‘experiences’ with the materials and its process for which they will be gifted a $15 itunes card.
  3. Lastly, six months later researchers will follow up with the same women to assess their “knowledge, attitude, and behaviors.”
  4. Researchers will present a years worth of collected data back to the legislators, whether the dispensers make a difference or not,  in hopes to continue the study and obtain further funding.

So that’s pretty much it so far. And however you feel on this subject its happening. Its America, and your head would probably explode if you knew about all the money that is spent in the name of “research”. But this we can agree on… as of 1999, the rate of fetal alcohol syndrome in the state of Alaska was 1.5 per every 1,000 live births. And that, believe it or not is on the higher end of the CDC’s national estimate — 0.2 to 1.5 per every 1,000 births. So after learning that the average lifetime cost to care for someone with fetal alcohol syndrome is about $2 million, it puts a waning $400,000 in perspective.

Were you shocked to hear the news? Excited even? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Phillip Crawford

Content creator and video/photographer for You can follow Phillip on Twitter and Instagram - @phillip907

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