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Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Important Numbers
Topic: Editorializing

Okay.  It irks me that the cover of the Guttmacher Institute's recent report on the impact of publicly funded family planning services depicts an apparently single, middle-class/white-collar woman while the bulk of the statistics talk about the dire state of reproductive health services for poor women and families in the US.  This irritation is slightly mitigated by the fact that the woman on the cover is very young, and young people are highly likely to be uninsured or underinsured in their early jobs and need access to publicly funded health services.  But it bugs me that the report cover doesn't depict the wide range of people who access publicly funded family planning services.

Regardless of any irritation, however, there are some numbers here that need serious consideration:

  • 60% of family planning center clients consider the center their primary source of medical care due to the package of services offered
  • 1 in 6 women who obtain a Pap smear do so at a family planning center
  • One third of women who receive HIV or other STI testing and counseling obtain it through a family planning center
  • Number of women needing publicly-supported contraceptive services: 17.5 million
  • Number of unintended pregnancies in the US each year: nearly 3 million
  • Number of unintended pregnancies prevented by publicly-funded family planning services: nearly 2 million
  • Savings to Medicaid of preventing unintended pregnancies: $4 for every $1 invested in publicly funded family planning services
With the president emphasizing healthcare reform, and the economy struggling, it seems to me that investing in family planning centers and making sure that they're safe spaces for women to access (maybe there's nothing to be done about protesters outside Planned Parenthood, but why should women going for a pelvic exam have to brave that gauntlet?) should be priorities for the government.  For an overview of the report findings and recommendations, see this press release

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