Subsidized family planning services are vital to achieving important public health goals by helping millions of young and economically disadvantaged American women prevent unintended pregnancies. Women who are not using contraceptives, or who are using them inconsistently, represent one-third of all women at risk of unintended pregnancy in the United States and account for 95% of the three million unintended pregnancies that occur every year. Unintended pregnancy, in turn, has been linked with numerous negative maternal and child health outcomes. More broadly, women’s ability to rely on contraception enables them to invest in higher education and to be full participants in the nation’s workforce.
In his FY 2012 budget, President Obama has proposed a modest funding increase for Title X of the Public Health Service Act, the sole federal program devoted entirely to family planning. Meanwhile, some in Congress are proposing to slash Title X funding immediately, or even eliminate it entirely. Title X funds subsidize direct client services and provide vital support for the establishment and maintenance of family planning centers in communities where services are needed.
Title X–supported family planning centers served 4.7 million women in 2008 (click here to view fact sheets detailing the impact of Title X in each state). The contraceptive services provided at these centers helped women and couples avoid 973,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions. Without these services, unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States would be one-third higher. And by helping women avoid unintended pregnancies, Title X–supported family planning centers saved taxpayers $3.4 billion in 2008—or $3.74 for every $1 spent on contraceptive care.
One-quarter of all poor women who obtain contraceptive services each year do so at a site that receives Title X funding, as do 17% of poor women obtaining a Pap test or pelvic exam and 20% obtaining services for a sexually transmitted infection. It is therefore not at all surprising that six in 10 women who obtain care at a Title X–supported center consider it to be their usual source of medical care.
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