Alaska: #1 in Contraceptive Services?

NPR reported today on the state of sex education in Alaska.  You can listen to the interview after 7:00 p.m. EST tonight if you care to.  What I took away from it is that there is neither statewide sex education funding nor statewide sex education policy in Alaska.  Basically, it’s an each-school-district-for-itself policy (I could be wrong about that, and I do plan to listen to the interview again).

However, one piece of information at the end of the story stuck with me: Alaska ranks #1 in the nation in providing contraceptive services to women.  Huh.  I didn’t catch the name of the research group that came up with that finding, but it might have been the Guttmacher Institute, whose data is rather interesting.

The Institute’s findings on abortion services in Alaska include the following:

  • In Alaska, 81% of counties lack an abortion provider, versus 87% nationwide.
  • Every metropolitan area in Alaska has an abortion provider.
  • As of January 2008, there was one state restriction on abortion in Alaska: “A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion before the procedure is provided. ”  If I’m not mistaken, that’s pretty common.

The Institute’s findings on contraceptive services in Alaska include the following:

  • Alaska has the 30th highest teen pregnancy rate of any state.
  • Family planning clinics in Alaska serve 81% of all women in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and 71% of teenagers in need.
  • 85% of counties in Alaska have at least one family planning clinic.

The Institute’s state-by-state report on sex education policies didn’t include any information on Alaska, which would appear to confirm what I took away from the NPR interview: there is no  specific state policy, the state does not specifically fund sex education, and each school district kind of does its own thing.

Much of this data predates Palin’s gubernatorial term, and I’d like to know how it’s changed since then.  I haven’t heard anything about Palin pushing her abstinence-only or anti-choice views during her term as governor (aside from her membership in Feminists for Life and her answer to a sex education question on a political survey), but if she has, I’d be very interested in hearing about it.  I’ll certainly have my ears open for more on the subject, and I hope you will, too.

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2 Responses to “Alaska: #1 in Contraceptive Services?”

  1. AGreenEyeDevil Says:

    I’m not that familiar w/Alaska’s public health stats, but one of the other influences to the women’s health data may be the Indian Health Services as provided for through the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Native Indians of that state. They play by a TOTALLY different set of rules and DO NOT answer to state or local government. The BIA works exclusively with the tribal programs, yet the public health system will capture the BIA’s health data with the overall data. I’ll have to check into the numbers.

  2. News Affecting Alaska High Schools for 09/06/2008 « Alaska High Schools Says:

    […] Title: Alaska: #1 in Contraceptive Services? […]

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