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Nope, no need for family planning here! Unplanned pregnancies cost taxpayers $21 billion in 2010

We know the GOP is the party of giving teens herpes. Here's what else they favor by cutting family planning funds


Jenny Kutner
March 4, 2015 12:49AM (UTC)

Last week we heard a whole lot of bragging from the GOP's shining stars about their "pro-life" cuts to family planning services, which have already proven to be disastrous both for the people who need them and for the taxpayers who fund them. Cuts for basic healthcare services, such as STI testing and cancer screenings, have become a point of pride for Republican presidential hopefuls, despite keeping taxpayers from a valuable investment: a 2014 analysis from the Guttmacher Institute found that every dollar invested in family planning can save taxpayers $7 -- and can also help prevent STIs, cervical cancer and unintended pregnancies (the last of which, of course, prevents abortion).

But the costs of failing to invest adequately in family planning services also help make the case for funding them in an equally compelling way, as the fiscal implications are no less than horrifying. According to a new Guttmacher report, even with some public family planning efforts, unplanned pregnancies cost taxpayers $21 billion in 2010, whether they ended in birth, abortion or miscarriage. That's more than half of the $40.8 billion spent on publicly funded pregnancies that year, of which the report estimates 2 million births resulted. Approximately 1 million of those births were unplanned.

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Without publicly funded family planning services, the report estimates public costs would have been 75 percent higher in 2010. But averting all those costly unintended pregnancies altogether, with the help of contraceptive access made possible by publicly family planning services? That would have saved taxpayers over $15 billion. State-by-state, the implications are grave: In Texas, for example, which has been particularly hostile to reproductive healthcare programs in recent years and has the highest spending on unintended births, nearly $3 billion gets spent annually on pregnancy care.

Given all that, it definitely makes sense to cut funding for services that help reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy, thereby reducing the need for abortion as well as the massive amount of taxpayer money going to fund women's care. The numbers would certainly indicate that that's the most sensible option.


Jenny Kutner

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