Celebrating Roe While Promoting Prevention


January 22, 2009, marks the
36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court
decision that legalized abortion nationwide. This anniversary comes
two days after the inauguration of the first prochoice president in
eight years and at the beginning of a new administration and a new Congress
whose leaders recognize that behind almost every abortion is an unintended
pregnancy.   

Although the rate of abortion
in the United States has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, slightly more than
one in five pregnancies end in abortion
,
and stark
disparities persist

in rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion; poor and low-income women
are at particularly high risk. Compared with higher income women, poor
women are four times as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, three
times as likely to have an abortion and five times as likely to have
an unplanned birth. Consequently, the need for publicly funded family
planning services is as critical as ever. 

Publicly funded family planning
clinics provide contraceptive services to about seven million women
each year. Without these services, unintended pregnancy rates would
be nearly 50% higher for all women and about two-thirds higher among
low-income women. According to recent
Guttmacher research
,
1.4 million unintended pregnancies, which would likely result in about
640,000 unintended births and 600,000 abortions, are averted each year
because of these services. Research shows that these services save $4.3
billion in public funds. Nationally, every $1.00 invested in helping
women avoid pregnancies they do not want saves $4.02 in Medicaid expenditures
that otherwise would be needed-in addition to providing clear benefits
to individual women and their families by helping them avoid unintended
pregnancies and plan the pregnancies they do want. 

Guttmacher
research
has also
found that each $20 million increment in new funding under the Title
X family planning services program alone would help women avoid another
17,200 unintended pregnancies, including 7,000 that would end in abortion.
Expanding eligibility for Medicaid-covered family planning services
nationwide to the same income eligibility levels used for pregnant women
would yield even greater results, further reducing unintended pregnancy
and abortion by 15%, while achieving an additional $1.5 billion in net
savings annually. 

While in the Senate, President-elect
Obama cosponsored numerous bills, such as the Prevention First Act,
aimed at expanding access to contraceptives, health information and
preventive services to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies. Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), himself antiabortion, reintroduced
the Prevention First Act in early January, and companion legislation
in the House was reintroduced soon thereafter.   

We know that we must put prevention
front and center, so let’s stop talking about it-and start doing
it.

For more information, click
here for:

Facts
on induced abortion

in the United States

A comprehensive
resource
on trends
in abortion in the United States since 1974

State
facts
about abortion

Information on who has abortions in the United States
and why

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