Studies released Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute and the Brookings Institution show that unintended pregnancies in the U.S. cost taxpayers roughly $11 billion per year. The Guttmacher Institute notes that this estimate is conservative, as it is only considers public insurance costs for pregnancy and first-year infant care. The studies also find that government programs could save billions by preventing unintended pregnancies.
The Guttmacher study found that 64% of births resulting from unintended pregnancies were to women enrolled in publicly funded health care programs, while only 35% of intended births were publicly funded. Adam Sonfield, one of the study’s authors, remarked, "At a time when policymakers everywhere are looking for ways to cut costs under Medicaid, these findings point clearly to a way to achieve that goal by expanding access to health care, not cutting it."
Adam Thomas, an author of the Brookings Institution's study, said "Like Sonfield and colleagues, we find that the potential public savings from preventing unintended pregnancy are enormous." The Brookings study found that taxpayers could save about $5.6 billion annually through efforts to prevent those pregnancies.
The study comes at a time when a number of states are considering legislation to cut family planning. Earlier this month, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill making Indiana the first state to defund Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers in Kansas and North Carolina are attempting to pass similar legislation.
Media Resources: Guttmacher Institute Press Release 5/19/11; National Partnership for Women and Families 5/19/11; Reuters 5/19/11; Feminist Newswire 5/11/11