Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner, an Anchorage Democrat, introduced a bill (SB 156) to allow women to receive a supply of birth control one year a time, which would include pills, patches and possible “new technology.”

“For many people in Alaska, it’s hard to get to a doctor and then you have to get to a pharmacy, and some people, their insurance plans or their doctor, makes them do it every month,” said Sen. Gardner. “And the most, normally, is three months at a time.”

Gardner joked it was a shorter time period than a legislative session normally runs.

Gardner said the bill will undoubtedly reduce abortions, and calls it a bill people on all ends of the spectrum should support.

“For those people who are opposing Roe v. Wade and want to end abortion, this is a very, very effective way to reduce abortion,” said Gardner. “About 40 percent of unplanned pregnancies nationwide end in abortion.”

Gardner says the bill also has a cost-saving effect for the state because a significant number of unplanned pregnancies, whether they end in abortion or are carried to term, are paid for with public funds.

“They’re paid for through Medicaid, through SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) family planning programs and through Indian Healthcare Services,” said Gardner.

The Anchorage senator says she hopes the bill will at least get a conversation started about a law to require a more efficient standard for access to birth control from health insurance providers in the state.

Gardner says a next step might be to evaluate the medical risks and benefits of allowing women to access birth control at pharmacies, without a prescription, as is customary in other countries.