Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Help Women Avoid Unintended Pregnancies While Generating Substantial Financial Savings

In 2010, publicly funded contraceptive services helped women prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 1.1 million unplanned births and 760,000 abortions, according to "Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2010." In the absence of these services, national levels of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion among all women would be 66% higher and 73% higher among teens. By providing women the contraception they need to avoid pregnancies they don’t want, publicly funded contraceptive services yielded savings of $10.5 billion, or $5.68 for every $1 spent.

"Publicly funded family planning services enable millions of women to avoid an unintended pregnancy each year—and the unplanned births and abortions that would follow," says Guttmacher policy expert Rachel Gold. "Moreover, by helping women avoid pregnancies they don’t want, publicly funded contraceptive services save federal and state governments billions of dollars."

In 2010, 19.1 million women were in need of publicly funded contraceptive services, an increase from 16.4 million in 2000. All of the growth in need between 2000 and 2010 was among poor and low-income adults, most likely the result of a growing number of poor women in the overall population due to the recession.

Nearly nine million women received publicly supported contraceptive services in 2010. Publicly funded safety net centers served 6.7 million of these women. The remaining 2.2 million women received care from private doctors that was paid for through Medicaid.

Centers that received some funding through the federal Title X program served 4.7 million women in 2010. Services provided by these centers helped women avert 1.2 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 590,000 unplanned births and 400,000 abortions. Without the services provided by Title X clinics, the national incidence of these events would be 35% higher among all women and 42% higher among teens. By helping women avoid pregnancies they do not want, the services provided by Title X-supported centers resulted in net public savings of $5.3 billion.

"Publicly funded family planning services are critical in helping many women avoid unintended pregnancy," says Guttmacher senior researcher Jennifer Frost. "Each year, millions of women are able to access highly effective contraceptive methods through these programs. Investing in family planning to help women avoid pregnancies they don’t want and for which they are unprepared is good public health policy. Saving money as a result of that investment is just common sense."

Click here for the county-level tables and methodological appendix.

For more information:

Facts on Publicly Funded Contraceptive Services in the United States
Infographic: Contraception Is Highly Effective

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