SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Birth Control & "Right to Try" Bills Pass Out of HSS Committees


March 30, 2016
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - A bill introduced on January 22, 2016, which would allow health insurance providers in Alaska to provide women 12 months of prescription hormonal contraceptives at a time.

Today SB156, introduced by Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage), had its second hearing in the Senate Health and Social Services committee and was passed out of the committee by unanimous vote. It will now move on to the Senate Labor and Commerce committee, chaired by Senator Mia Costello.

Currently, women who use oral contraceptives must return to the pharmacy every month to three months to refill their prescriptions. This can be challenging for Alaskan women, particularly in rural areas. After an initial 3-month trial prescription, this bill would allow women to refill the prescription once a year instead of once a month.

Access to consistent and reliable birth control allows women to control family planning, and thereby reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies, 40% of which end in abortion. It has been shown that women who are provided a consistent 12-month supply of oral contraceptives have 46% fewer abortions than women who have to get refills every month.

Unintended pregnancy has a profound effect on the economic opportunity and the overall well-being of Alaskan families. It is associated with increased health risks for both mother and child, and a greater likelihood that a family will sink into poverty and become dependent on government services. Unintended pregnancy is a dramatic cost driver to public health programs.

Nationally, 51% of all US births and 68% of unplanned births in 2010 were paid for by public insurance through Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the Indian Health Service.

“I’m very pleased that this bill has moved forward with strong bipartisan support,” said Sen. Gardner. “Passage of this simple proposal will mean a dramatic improvement in quality of life and health for women, a significant reduction in dependency on government-funded social programs, and a reduction in the number of abortions in the state. In addition, the bill carries a negative fiscal note, saving the state $1.2 million in FY2017 alone. It makes sense for Alaskan women, families and the bottom line.”

Also SB 113 received its second bill hearing in the Senate Health and Social Services Committee today, and was passed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In April of 2015, Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) introduced Senate Bill 113, also known as the “Right to Try.” SB 113 would allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted all available treatments and do not qualify for clinical trials to gain faster access to safe, but experimental drugs in an effort to save their own lives.

More than 1 million Americans die from a terminal illness every year. Many spend years searching for a potential cure, or struggling in vain to get accepted into a clinical trial. Unfortunately, FDA red tape and government regulations can often restrict access to promising new treatments, and sometimes for those who do get access, it’s too late.

“I am hopeful this solid non-partisan legislation will continue moving forward,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “Every individual has a right to make these critical health decisions for themselves. Government red tape shouldn’t determine whether a patient lives or dies.”

Similar legislation has now passed in 25 states with strong, often unanimous, bi-partisan support.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Alaska Senate Democrats - Office of Senator Berta Gardner

Alaska Senate Democrats - Senator Bill Wielechowski


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