Five Figures to Consider
Ninety percent of us have sex before we marry, and the average age we start getting frisky is 17. Women spend about 30 years trying not to get pregnant. No wonder then that more than half of Americans support Roe v. Wade in its current application and do not want any changes in its scope. Another 20% support Roe v. Wade but with some restrictions. In spite of this common perspective, Congress passed legislation last spring allowing states to kick abortion providers out of their federally subsidized Title X family planning programs. To see where this might lead, take a look at Texas, which eliminated Planned Parenthood from its state-run family planning program in 2013 and then saw a 27% increase in Medicaid births. No matter, Iowa passed similar legislation last month. It cut funds to Planned Parenthood leaving 15,000 Iowans without access to their chosen healthcare provider. The aim of the legislation is to drive Planned Parenthood out of Iowa. In the process Iowans will get an increase in unwanted births. Laws like these lead to more unwanted babies, abortions, higher costs and reduced opportunities. Or less sex. Take your pick.
The Title X Family Planning Program, founded in 1970 during the Nixon Administration, is a federal anti-poverty program designed to help provide comprehensive family planning services including access to contraception at reduced or no-cost to low-income and uninsured people. These groups include the working poor and the young, who might not be eligible for Medicaid. Title X is a good investment for taxpayers. Without it the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion among teens would be 35% – 42% higher, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which also estimates that for every $1 invested in family planning services, taxpayers save $7.09 in Medicaid expenditures. That’s in part because long acting contraception, with an effectiveness rate of 99.9%, costs as little as $1,500 for the lifetime of a woman’s fertility, just $500-$1000 for an IUD once every seven years. It is much cheaper than an average $12,770 Medicaid birth, which doesn’t factor in ongoing support once born. Twenty-five percent of teen mothers go on welfare within three years of their child’s birth.
According to federal law, the only criteria for Title X grantee eligibility is being professionally qualified. In 105 U.S. counties, most of them rural, Planned Parenthood is not just qualified, it is the county’s only safety net provider. Without a Planned Parenthood in those counties, clients will not get the reproductive health care they depend upon. Four million Americans are Title X clients, and 1.3 million of them have chosen Planned Parenthood as their healthcare provider. Allowing states to use criteria other than quality of care in awarding Title X grants forces the anti-choice agenda on those who have few alternatives and can least afford it.
FIVE FIGURE THINKING
Cutting abortion providers from the Title X family planning program will cost states and the federal government millions of dollars, lead to a spike in unintended pregnancies and leave more than one million women without access to reproductive health care.