Unintended pregnancies cost $11B a year in government-underwritten medical care

Unintended pregnancies are a huge hit to the bottom line of the federal and state governments, costing at least $11 billion a year, reports the Wall Street Journal, most of which goes to clinics and hospitals for healthcare delivery.

A new study by the Brookings Institution, which focused on 2001 data, concluded that unintended pregnancies led to 168,000 abortions and as many as 782,000 births, the latter of which mostly occur at hospitals. Since many mothers who bring unintended pregnancies to term are in lower income brackets, government-underwritten medical care for more than 884,000 children age 5 and younger is provided as a result.

"I don't think the main reason for implementing these programs should be saving government dollars, but it's certainly a great benefit," said Emily Monea, a Brookings research analyst who co-authored the study. She estimates that preventing most or all of those pregnancies would save as much as $6.2 billion a year. Potential savings were not given a dollar-to-dollar correlation because some of the women would get pregnant later in their lives.

Planned Parenthood, an organization that has been at the center of a fierce ideological debate regarding government funding, embraced the study's findings.

"If anyone doubted that affordable birth control is good for families and good for taxpayers, these new findings should set the record straight," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

For more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- read the Brookings study