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Cheap, Discreet Pregnancy Tests—At a Bar

Campaigners aim to reduce the rate of fetal alcohol syndrome via widespread pregnancy test dispensers.

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Crowe hopes his pregnancy test dispensers
will help women everywhere. Photo via

By Bryan Le

09/14/12

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Pub 500, a bar in Mankato, Minnesota, is offering a startling new service: pregnancy tests. Mixing things-alcohol with things-pregnancy may seem jarring—but that's kinda the point. Using a pink and white dispenser in the ladies' room, women with room for doubt can spend $3—credit cards only—to check before they flood their abdomens with alcohol. According to Jody Allen Crowe, founder of Healthy Brains for Children, the non-prof behind the scheme, this bar is the first in the world to try such a thing. He hopes it will help reduce fetal alcohol syndrome: “It’s an epidemic,” Crowe says. “The amount of prenatal exposure to alcohol is really not something people talk about because it’s such a guilt-ridden type of discussion.”

Pub 500 may not seem a "party" enough place to necessitate on-site pregnancy tests, but experts say it's often professional women with disposable incomes who drink during pregnancy, rather than "party types." Crowe also hopes to install pregnancy test dispensers at sites like malls, gas stations and fitness centers, because women everywhere may not know they're pregnant: half of all US pregnancies are unplanned. At $3 each, a fraction of the cost of a drug-store test, checking discreetly is easy (embarrassment at publicly purchasing pregnancy tests makes them the most shoplifted item). Tom Frederick, Pub 500's proprietor, only took a little convincing: “We thought it was a strange idea at first but very quickly came to the realization that this could be beneficial." While not all his patrons see the benefit—"It just seems like something you should maybe already know before you're in a bar," says one—some love the idea: "It's putting awareness at the point of comsumption. I'm surprised it hasn't been done before."

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