Ms. MURKOWSKI submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary:
S. Res. 220
Whereas fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardation in western civilization, including the United States, and is 100 percent preventable;
Whereas fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a major cause of numerous social disorders including learning disabilities, school failure, juvenile delinquency, homelessness, unemployment, mental illness, and crime;
Whereas economists estimate that each individual with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders will cost United States taxpayers between $1,500,000 and $3,000,000 in his or her lifetime;
Whereas in February 1999, a small group of parents of children who suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome/effect (FAS/E) came together with the hope that in 1 magic moment the world could be made aware of the devastating consequences of alcohol consumption during pregnancy;
Whereas the first International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day was observed on September 9, 1999;
Whereas Bonnie Buxton of Toronto, Canada, the co-founder of the first International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day, stated the purpose of the observance as: ``What if . . . a world full of FAS/E parents all got together on the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year and asked the world to remember that during the 9 months of pregnancy a woman should not consume alcohol . . . would the rest of the world listen?''; and
Whereas on the ninth day of the ninth month of each year since 1999, communities around the world have observed International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) designates the ninth day of September of each year as ``National Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day''; and
(2) requests that the President issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to--
(A) observe ``National Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day'' with appropriate ceremonies to--
(i) promote awareness of the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol;
(ii) increase compassion for individuals affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol;
(iii) minimize further effects; and
(iv) ensure healthier communities across the United States; and
(B) observe a moment of reflection on the ninth hour of the ninth day of September to remember that during the 9 months of pregnancy a woman should not consume alcohol.
Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, at nine minutes after the hour of nine in communities across Alaska and around the world, people are pausing today to observe International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Awareness Day. International FAS Awareness Day was first observed on September 9, 1999. It began with a small group of parents of children afflicted with FAS and Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE) who came together on the Internet to ask this compelling question, ``What if a world full of FAS and FAE parents all got together on the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year and asked the world to remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should not consume alcohol?''
These pioneering activists, most of whom were adoptive and foster parents, led by Brian Philcox and Bonnie Buxton of Toronto, Canada, did not have the resources of large public relations firms or well connected lobbyists. They organized the first International FAS Awareness Day on a shoestring using the Internet. Rapidly their group grew to include more than 70 volunteer coordinators in eight countries. Through this grassroots awareness effort, many women of childbearing age learned for the first time that no amount of alcohol in pregnancy is good.
Each year their simple message travels further. On this fifth International FAS Awareness Day, we know that the message is getting across. Numerous observances are planned in my home State of Alaska. In Nome, a birthday cake celebration will honor all babies who will be born in the region in the coming year. In Kenai the American Legion will sponsor a breakfast and the ringing of bells at 9:09 AM. The Mayors of Anchorage, Haines and Wasilla, to name a few, have issued local proclamations.
The Commissioner of our Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Joel Gilbertson, and the staff of his Division of Behavioral Health, are to be commended for their diligent efforts in bringing International FAS Awareness Day to Alaska. An excellent resource manual to help communities plan their observances, is accessible through the Internet page of the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services. I would also like to thank the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which is publicizing International FAS Awareness Day on their website.
Yet, in spite of all of the hard work of dedicated volunteers over the last several years to publicize International FAS Awareness Day, I was surprised to learn that legislation has not been introduced in the Congress to ask that the President designate September 9 of each year as National FAS Awareness Day across the United States. The resolution that I am introducing today would do just that.
The resolution, like the day itself, is intended to focus attention on the high cost of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders to our Nation and the ease of prevention. At the same time it asks that the American people treat those afflicted with these disorders with compassion and support. FAS is the largest cause of mental retardation in Alaska, the United States and all of western civilization and it is one hundred percent preventable. The simple fact is that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy has been established as safe for the fetus. If women do not drink alcohol--any alcohol--during the nine months of pregnancy; alcohol-related birth defects will be eliminated.
It is high time that we recognize the efforts of the dedicated volunteers who conceived and developed International FAS Awareness Day with a national observance in the United States. On the first International FAS Awareness Day in 1999, Bonnie Buxton put forth this question to those who care for FAS and FAE children, ``What if we made a noise? Would the rest of the world listen?'' To Bonnie and all of the others who have made International FAS Awareness Day a reality, I want to say that the United States Senate is listening and proudly joins in your efforts to spread the word. Thanks to your good works, the world is listening.