A new study confirms what we have long known, that the more money we spend on birth control and family planning, the more we save. The reason should be obvious: It’s far cheaper to prevent unwanted pregnancies than it is to pay for a lifetime of health care and other costs.
Publicly funded family planning programs help save taxpayers billions of dollars each year by averting costly medical expenses, according to a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute. It’s the latest data point in an overwhelming body of evidence illustrating the societal benefits of expanding access to affordable birth control.
It’s not hard to understand why that’s the case. Low-income women are at the highest risk of unintended pregnancy, largely because they don’t always have access to medical resources like contraception. But, when publicly funded programs like Title X help those women get affordable birth control, it can make a big difference. Guttmacher researchers estimate that the care provided at publicly funded family planning clinics helped prevent 2.2 million unplanned pregnancies in 2010.With so many fewer pregnancies among this population, appropriating funding for family planning works out to be very good deal for the government. It eliminates a significant amount of potential Medicaid spending, since states don’t have to pay as much for abortions, for miscarriages, or for maternity and infant care. “This investment resulted in net government savings of $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent,” the researchers conclude.
And investing in women’s health can influence more than pregnancies. Title X clinics also provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, something that helps prevent patients from transmitting those infections to their future sexual partners. Guttmacher estimates that helped reduce chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV infections by 99,100 cases, 16,240 cases, and 410 cases respectively. Plus, providing resources for low-income women to get tested for cervical cancer helped identify 3,600 cases early enough to prevent more than 2,000 deaths.
You know what else it prevents? Abortions. If the “pro-life” crowd actually wanted to reduce abortions, they would be in favor of the widest possible distribution of birth control. But that isn’t really their goal at all. Their goal is to control women. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Birth control should be free and available to everyone in this country.