Publication / DecodeDC/ Scripps
June 16, 2014
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Laugh or Cry: Alaskan bars hand out free pregnancy tests with drinks

New study aims to combat drinking while pregnant

Should I laugh or should I cry? It’s not just the title of a 1981 song by Abba – it’s how you sometimes feel when something is either so absurd or so maddening or so something that you’re just not sure how to react. We here at DecodeDC think politics and the actions of those who play in the political arena are filled with laugh or cry moments. We hope you do to. 

In Alaska, combating an epidemic of fetal alcohol syndrome now starts with free pregnancy tests in bars.

Beginning in December, 20 bars and restaurants in Alaska will be implementing a pseudo buy-one drink get-one pee-stick free policy to all women.

The tactic is part of a new two year state-funded program spearheaded by the University of Alaska.

The aim is serious: the study is designed to combat Alaska’s high rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, the highest of any other state in the country. And, according to the Anchorage Daily News, women of child-bearing age in Alaska have a 20 percent higher chance of binge drinking in comparison to the national average.

Researchers are spending $400,000 to see whether well-marked pregnancy dispensers will be more effective at preventing women from drinking while pregnant, instead of just posters. People who are working on the program hope that one day taking a pregnancy test before you drink at a bar will be just as common as using a designated driver.

Perhaps it’s true that pregnancy tests aren’t cheap and that woman might not be taking them because they aren’t easily available or embarrassing to buy at drug stores.

And perhaps it’s true that some women need a special reminder in a form of a poster that says: “If that time of the month came and went and you didn’t get what you should have got, it’s time to take a test.”

But why at a bar?

Yes drinks are sold at bars, and drinking is bad if you’re pregnant, aware of it or not. But if a woman is at a bar and drinking I think it’s safe to say the likelihood that she will take the posters into consideration, and on top of that act on them, is highly unlikely. Even the probability that she will notice the poster is slim.

So those free pregnancy tests? They are right up there with free tampons, great when you need them but women aren’t going to be rushing to get them if they don’t think they need to.

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