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Birth Control Saves Money. Again.

Max Fisher makes the fiscal conservative case for making birth control available as widely and as cheaply as possible, noting one of numerous studies that show how contraception coverage saves many more times its cost in both public and private funds.

Put aside the fact that contraception is used to treat conditions that have nothing to do with sex (this was Fluke’s actual point). Put aside that a woman’s ability to control whether or not she is pregnant is about as fundamental and important as the right to health gets. (I’ve never been pregnant, but it sure seems like a more serious medical condition than a lot of the things we expect health insurance to pay to prevent, such as the flu.) Put aside that it’s only if we assume all women are abstinent or should be that female contraception is about promoting sex instead of protecting health, and that no society in history has ever made this assumption. Even put aside that O’Reilly and Limbaugh don’t complain about male contraception such as vasectomies, and they definitely don’t complain about “paying for people to go skiing,” which is exactly what happens when your health care premiums go toward fixing all those broken legs.

Even if you reject all of the above, you should still want health care to cover female contraception, and you should be excited about paying for it. This is because health care subsidies on birth control actually save you money — a lot of money. Every dollar that our society spends on preventing unintended pregnancies produces us “savings of between two and six dollars,” according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. The savings come from averting health care, child care, and other costs associated with unplanned pregnancies. That’s a rate of return of 100% to 500%, making it one of the safest and most profitable investments anywhere.

“Unintended pregnancies are disproportionately concentrated among women who are unmarried, teenaged, and poor,” the report finds. Those are all groups of people who could probably use help affording contraception. If you happen to dislike the idea of your money going to help poor, unmarried, or teenage women, consider the fact that you will not just get your money back, you’ll at least double it and at most quintuple. You’ll enjoy this profit in the form of lower health care costs and lower taxes.

The reverse may also be true: spending less money on contraception services leads to higher health care costs and higher taxes. When Texas cut $73 million from state family planning services, the increase in unplanned pregnancies ended up costing $230 million in additional Medicaid burdens, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Budget Board. The other result was more unintended pregnancies and, presumably, more abortions. Other states are considering similar measures.

As an added bonus, you’ll also reduce the number and rate of abortions, 90% of which are estimated to be for unintended pregnancies. And you’ll reduce the number of unwed mothers (if you happen to think this is a number that should be reduced), who carry 70% of unplanned pregnancies.

That’s why all these arguments about how horrible it is for anyone to suggest taxpayer funding for birth control are fundamentally dishonest. The people making those arguments aren’t really against abortion, they’re against a woman’s right to have any control at all over their own reproduction at any level because, of course, that’s God’s job.

Comments

  1. says

    This is an appropriate place for the obligatory Christopher Hitchens quote:

    “[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

  2. MikeMa says

    Ah, to show Texass leading the way in stupid in yet another endeavor. Save $70 mil, cost $200 mil. The Texas miracle right there, yessiree.

    Proposal: Any church that defends that stupidity, must be liable for the differential costs.

  3. raven says

    When Texas cut $73 million from state family planning services, the increase in unplanned pregnancies ended up costing $230 million in additional Medicaid burdens, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Budget Board.

    Texas and Rick Perry just refused more federal funds for family planning because it would have gone to Planned Parenthood. Which is targeted to poor women.

    Using the multiplier above, it will cost them 3X the money they refused ($36 million) for a total of $144 million.

    Oh well, Tea Party math.

    Money wasted on kooky ideology $144 million

    Making poor women suffer and cost the taxpayers Priceless

  4. Chiroptera says

    This is all very odd. Why, it’s almost as if the conservatives really weren’t concerned about saving money!

  5. yoav says

    The problem with making the argument that money spent on contraception saves more by reducing the cost of maternal and child health care is that the teacups and santorums of the world want to cut this as well. They all talk about how much they value life but couldn’t care less if a woman die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth or if these babies they care about so much when they are a microscopic blob of cells die from preventable diseases once they are born because their family can’t afford to buy health insurance.

  6. says

    he people making those arguments aren’t really against abortion, they’re against a woman’s right to have any control at all over their own reproduction at any level because, of course, that’s God’s job.

    They’re also against women having sex just for the fun of it.

  7. marcus says

    Deen @ 6 Fucking A! They aren’t having any fun and it really pisses them off when someone else does.

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