Not Paying For Better Birth Control Programs Is Costing U.S. Taxpayers $12.5 Billion [Maps]

on October 24 2013 3:09 PM
10-24-2013 2-34-35 PM
Scroll down for a series of interactive maps. IBTimes/Lisa Mahapatra

Almost half of the children born in the U.S. in 2008 were the result of unintended pregnancies, according to a new report released by the Guttmacher Institute, and more than three in five of those births were funded by public programs.

The combined cost to U.S. taxpayers of bringing these 1.1 million children into the world was $12.5 billion. If it weren’t for the publicly funded family planning programs that currently exist, the size of the bill would have been double that number, according to the report.

A lot of people don't have easy access to publicly funded family planning programs, Adam Sonfield, one of the authors of the report, told IBTimes. It would be much cheaper for federal and state governments to invest in such programs than to fund the unintended births they result in.

“They’re not paying for the contraception, but they’re paying for the births,” he said.

While the unintended-pregnancy rate for all women in the United States has fallen slightly over the past 30 years, the rate for poorer women has been rising.

“That gap [in the unintended pregnancy rate of poor women and that of high income women] has gotten quite a bit larger since the '90s,” said Sonfield. “They’ve gone down for higher-income women but are much higher for lower-income women.”

Here’s a chart that looks at the unintended pregnancy rate for women, by income, based on data parsed by the Guttmacher Institute:

In this chart, “below poverty line” refers to women with a household income that is below the poverty line threshold (currently $23,000); “low income” refers to women with a household income higher than the poverty line threshold but lower than double the poverty line threshold; “high income” refers to women with a household income that is double or more than double the poverty line threshold.

While 48 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. in 2008 were unintended, there was quite a disparity in the rates among different U.S. states. In Utah, the percentage of all pregnancies that are unintended is just 37 percent, but in Mississippi that rate is 63 percent. The highest rate in the U.S. is that of Washington, D.C.: 70 percent of all pregnancies that occur there were unintended.

Here’s a map of U.S. states color-coded by the percentage of pregnancies that were unintended in 2008. Click on any state to see that percentage, and to see how many pregnancies resulted in a birth:

Of the $12.5 billion public dollars spent on funding unintended pregnancies, $7.3 billion were federal expenditures and $5.2 were state expenditures.

Here’s a map of U.S. states color-coded by per capita public spending on unintended pregnancies. Click on any state to see exactly how much was spent and for more info:

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