Contraceptives and Condoms, Financing and Aid Effectiveness

You Get What You Pay For: Contraception is Cost-Effective, So Why Cut It?

Fact: Contraception saves lives.

Fact: Contraception saves money.

Fact: Politicians are trying to cut funding for contraception, at home and abroad.

Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to us either.

This week, a new study from the Guttmacher Institute found that publicly funded contraceptive services saved the United States federal government and state and local governments $10.5 billion in 2010—about $5.68 for every $1 spent.

Image courtesy of the Guttmacher Institute

More importantly, these services gave reproductive health care options to low-income women in need, and helped prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 1.1 million unplanned births and 760,000 abortions.

In short, contraception is a win-win – a lifesaver for women and a sound investment for their governments. Yet state lawmakers across the country are mind-bogglingly still targeting these programs for drastic cuts.

While the Guttmacher study focused on the U.S., the same rings true in the developing world. Providing family planning to every woman who wants it would save the lives of 79,000 mothers and 1.1 million infants, and prevent 54 million unplanned pregnancies and 26 million abortions (many which are unsafe and dangerous).

And U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) data from seven countries shows that for every dollar invested in family planning and reproductive health, there is significant savings in other development areas such as education, immunization, water and sanitation, and malaria. Savings range from $2 in Ethiopia to up to $9 in Bolivia for every dollar spent.

But… just like their counterparts at the state level, congressional appropriators in the House have approved a funding bill that would cut international family planning and reproductive health programs by more than $127 million from current levels. What are they thinking?

The need is great. 222 million women in developing countries want to prevent pregnancy, but still lack modern contraception. We can’t afford to let these women down.

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