Unintended pregnancies cost American taxpayers $21 billion each year, according to a new analysis released by the Guttmacher Institute. That averages out to a cost of about $366 per every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. Overall, more than half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and roughly 1-in-20 American women of reproductive age have an unplanned pregnancy each year.
Nationally there were 1.5 million unplanned births in 2010. Public insurance programs like Medicaid paid for 68 percent of those births. “On average, a publicly funded birth cost $12,770 in prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care and the first 12 months of infant care; care for months 13–60 cost, on average, another $7,947, for a total cost per birth of $20,716,” the study found.
Both the rate and cost of unplanned birth vary considerably by state. As a percent of all births, unplanned births ranged from 31.8 percent in New Hampshire to 56.8 percent in Mississippi. Overall, states in New England and on the West coast had the lowest rates of unplanned birth, while Southern states had the highest.
In some states — Georgia, Mississippi and Oklahoma — more than 80 percent of unplanned births were paid for by public dollars. Georgia taxpayers spent nearly $1 billion on unplanned births in 2010, as did taxpayers in Chicago. California spent $1.8 billion, while unplanned births cost the state of Texas nearly $3 billion dollars in 2010.
As you will see if you read the study, those figures represent both federal and state money. The amount of its own funds spent by Texas was $620 million, which is still a lot of money that didn’t need to be spent. The study points out that were it not for state programs that fund contraception and women’s health programs, the cost incurred, nationally and by each state, would have been much higher. These figures are from 2010. What has Texas been doing since then? Yep, cutting funding for contraception and women’s health, partly for pure budgetary reasons, and partly due to an ideological war against Planned Parenthood. I’m betting that the $620 million we spent in 2010 would be at least that much, possibly quite a bit more, in the subsequent years thanks to this shortsighted and harmful policy. So the next time Texas Republicans whine about the cost of Medicaid, it would be nice if some journalist type asked them about their own role in that problem.