In the past month, when dismissing questions surrounding their stance on women’s health, Republicans have argued that women don’t care about contraception because a majority are focused on more immediate economic concerns. But the GOP fails to realize that economics and women’s access to reproductive health, are inextricably linked and that expanding the availability of family planning services increases labor force participation , education attainment in women and makes for fiscally sound budget policy.
Despite these benefits, the national Republican party has advanced legislation to limit women’s access to preventive health services and multiple states have introduced GOP-backed measures to restrict access to family planning. Here are just some of the very real economic consequences of this war on women’s health:
– $4 Billion: According to a study released by the National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies, unplanned pregnancies total $4 billion a year in direct medical costs alone. This includes only the costs that are associated with the births ($3.9 billion) and miscarriages ($266 million) that result from nearly 3 million unplanned pregnancies each year.
– $12 Billion: A study conducted by the Brookings Institution estimates that American taxpayers spend upwards of $12 billion each year to provide medical care for 1.25 million unintended pregnancies through programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This sum includes $251 million on fetal losses (which are commonly known as miscarriages); roughly $6 billion on births; and another $6 billion on infant medical care.
– $10,000: The average cost per publicly financed unintended pregnancy is nearly $10,000.
– $55.6 Million: In a state like Oklahoma, for example, which had the 10th-highest percentage of births of unplanned babies in 2006, and where “Medicaid paid for the treatment and delivery costs for more than 70 percent of the 26,100 unintended pregnancies that year…the price tag for prenatal and post-partum care for the woman and infant was $55.6 million while the federal government’s share of those costs was $117.6 million.”
– $11 Billion: On a national scale, federal and state government costs for unintended pregnancies jumped to upwards of $11 billion.
Although it may seem counterintuitive to the GOP, reducing barriers to contraception access is more fiscally sound than erecting new hurdles. In 2008 alone, contraceptive services helped to avert some 973,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions. Federal and state governments save on average $4.3 billion each year from publicly funded family planning services, while contraceptive use saves nearly $19 billion in direct medical costs each year. The National Business Group on Health reports that most of its 346 members include contraception in their plans because it saves money. Employers who cover birth control, at an average cost of about $39 per female employee per year, end up saving about $9,000 per female employee in any two-year period compared to those who don’t.