Senate panel hears bill aimed at easing birth control access

Sen. Berta Gardner addresses the Alaska Senate on April 7, 2014 .  (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)
Sen. Berta Gardner addresses the Alaska Senate on April 7, 2014 . (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Representatives from Planned Parenthood, a union of current and former sex workers, small business owners and others testified on a bill that would require insurance companies to pay claims for women to get up to one year’s worth of contraception at a time.

The bill’s sponsor, Anchorage Senator Berta Gardner, told a state Senate committee Wednesday that she wanted to make it more convenient for women to get contraceptives, particularly in rural areas. She says it could help reduce unintended pregnancies.

The bill exempts religious employer in certain situations.

Dennis DeWitt, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says his organization opposes the bill because it could increase the cost of providing insurance coverage for small employers.