Publicly funded family planning clinics provide contraceptive services to approximately seven million women each year. Without these services, the annual number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in the United States would be almost 50% higher. In other words, 1.4 million unintended pregnancies and 600,000 abortions are averted each year because of these services, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis.
Twenty percent of the pregnancies averted would occur among teenagers. In the absence of publicly funded services, there would be nearly 50% more teen pregnancies (or 290,000 more); these additional pregnancies would result in about 150,000 unplanned births and 100,000 abortions.
In addition to the clear benefits for individual women and their families in helping them avoid the pregnancies they do not want and plan the pregnancies they do, the analysis finds that these services save $4.3 billion in public funds. Nationally, for every $1.00 spent to provide services in the nationwide network of publicly funded family planning clinics, $4.02 in Medicaid expenses on births are averted.
"These new data add to the growing body of evidence that investing in publicly funded contraceptive services can make an enormous impact on helping women reduce unintended pregnancies, abortions and unplanned births, all while saving money," says study coauthor Dr. Lawrence Finer. "Investing in a prevention strategy is more important now than ever, as the number of women who need publicly funded contraceptive services has increased by more than one million since 2000."
Guttmacher research from 2006 found that each $20 million increment in new funding under the Title X family planning services program alone would help women avoid another 17,200 unintended pregnancies, including 7,000 that would end in abortion. Pending legislation to expand eligibility for Medicaid-covered family planning services nationwide to the same income eligibility levels used for pregnant women would yield even greater results, further reducing unintended pregnancy and abortion by 15%, while achieving an additional $1.5 billion in net savings annually.
"The Impact of Publicly Funded Family Planning Clinic Services on Unintended Pregnancies and Government Cost Savings," by Jennifer Frost et al., appears in the August issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
For more information, click here for Facts On Publicly Funded Contraceptive Services in the United States.