Family Planning Funding: A Win-Win for Women and for Taxpayers

In a time of economic uncertainty, unnerving budget deficits, and
ever-worsening employment and revenue figures, it is understandable
that the legislators and agency heads charged with setting the
budget for the state of Washington for the next two years are inclined to reach for the hatchet.

yes, there are going to have to be cuts, and many of those cuts will
have very real repercussions for those most in need. But dwindling
state revenues, coupled with more people than ever in need of
assistance, demands precise and thoughtful budget trimming.

is why the state Senate and House budget proposals are so alarming.
Among the slew of heartbreaking cuts, the Senate budget calls for a $1
million reduction in state spending on funding for birth control and
other family planning services for low-income and at-risk women, which
is 10 percent of the total program. The House budget is even worse; it
proposes a 10 percent cut for the first year of the two-year budget,
and then calls for the complete elimination of family planning funding
in the second year. That means ending reproductive health care services
for over 20,000 Washington women, and putting up to an additional $19
million in pregnancy care costs on the state’s tab. This drastic cut is
a gamble with women’s health – and the state’s bottom line – that we
simply cannot afford.

In terms of benefits to recipients, tax
payers, and the financial health of the state, few social programs
compare to public funding for birth control and other family planning
services for low-income women. It’s a rare win-win-win in the realm of
public policy and state spending. That is why it is critical that we
preserve funding for family planning, even now, during one of the
state’s (and nation’s) darker economic hours.

Women themselves
benefit from the most immediate "win." With continued funding,
low-income women can access birth control and other health care
services, thereby providing them with the ability to plan if and when
they get pregnant. When women are in control of their fertility, they
are more likely to complete their education, and find and retain
employment, making women and their children healthier.

When more
women, no matter what their income level, have access to birth control,
the rate of unintended pregnancies goes down. This leads directly to
the next two wins:

Public funding for family planning care is a
smart investment. According to a 2008 study by the Guttmacher
Institute, for every $1 spent on public funding for reproductive health
care, the state saves over $4 in prevented future costs. According to
the state’s Department of Health statistics, it costs approximately
$550 a year to cover a full range of family planning services for each
Washingtonian in need, compared to almost $8,000 in state funds for
each Medicaid paid birth. When the state spends a relatively small
amount for family planning services, it saves big bucks down the road.

birth control (i.e. family planning) lifts poor women out of poverty
and helps keep more women from falling into poverty. Not only is this directly
beneficial to the women in question, it is also to the benefit of
society as whole. A reduction in poverty means less of a strain on
public resources and a happier and more productive community. If one of
the goals of the budget process is to establish longer-term financial
stability for the state – and one would hope that is the case – then it
is easy to see that family planning funding should be off the chopping

Economic realities mean that many tough decisions await
the legislature. To be sure, it is an unenviable task. In the case of
funding for birth control and other family planning services for the
state’s low-income and marginalized women, the decision is refreshingly
easy. For the sake of Washington’s women and for the state’s financial
health, the state must allocate full, ongoing funding for reproductive
health care.

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  • invalid-0

    sorry, but umm, i don’t think you are correct. Funding uneffective family planning is not good for tax payers. Funding condoms does not help one person. It actually is harmful. Teaching a person about NFP or Natural Family Planning would be more effective and helpful in preventing pregnancy. Did you know that for most women, they only have 3-5 days of fertility, and other days they are not fertile? Well most people don’t know that because they have been given a condom, or a fish, instead of a fishing pole, or comprehensive knowledge about their body, and when they are fertile or not. Comprehensive sex education about Natural Family planning is statistically the most effective means of preventing unintended pregnancies.

    • invalid-0

      wow, are you really defending the “rhythm method” by giving it a fancy name like NFP (natural family planning)? why do Anti choice people feel the need to make up phrases & phenomena that are completely undocumented and highly anecdotal (read: propaganda)? (case in point: “partial-birth abortion.” This term is not recognized nor legitimized by the American medical community.)

      Most women ages 14-50 are very fertile (more than 3-5 days a month.) Why else are 50% of all US pregnancies unplanned?

      The person espousing the rhythm method might as well just tell all the heterosexual men they know to “pull out and pray.” If our society is ever going to help solve the issue of unwanted pregnancy for women who are either too young, too broke, lack a support network, or all of the above, a fabricated doctrine called “natural family planning” is not going to help in the least.

      get a clue. do some research on unintended pregnancy rates in our country, and more shockingly, around the world, and you’ll soon learn the wonders and unpredictability of a woman’s fertility if left up to “nature.”

      dont even get me started on rape or incest which also produce many unwanted pregnancies.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Sorry but this is unequivocally not true.


    NFP is not statistically the most effective means of preventing unintended pregnancies. Anywhere.
    Unless you have stats no one else has seen.


    It is obviously one option among many that couples and individuals have a right to choose and a right to practice, but effectiveness across a population is not one of its attributes.


    And condoms are harmful….how?


    Jodi Jacobson

  • invalid-0

    Dear Annonymous,

    I’d like to echo what Dr Jacobson said, what is so bad about condoms?

    Also, perm can live inside a woman for up to seven days. A women could have sex on a Sunday the 19th and ovulate on the 24rd, the sperm and egg meet, attach to the uterine wall and result in a pregnancy. Therefore to use the NFP method correctly to prevent pregnancy one would have to abstain from sex for about 12 days in one’s cycle.

    NFP doesn’t protect against HIV and other STIs.

    True women and men need to be more informed about their bodies and reproductive organs but they need access to affordable birth control methods along with cycle knowledge.

    Typical use of NFP is 75% effective (91% perfect use), with condoms being 85% (98% perfect use) and hormonal methods being 92% (more than 99% effective with perfect use).

    “What do they call people who practice the rhythm method?”


  • invalid-0

    *perm = sperm

  • invalid-0

    I predict that the religious right will use the economic downturn to push NFP on low income women. From the POV of conservatives it’s the ideal ‘family planning’ method for the poor. It’s cheap, pushing it will provide some jobs for their ‘counselors’ and, because it requires abstinence and an obsessive attention to the details of one’s cycles, they can blame and humiliate the woman when it fails. It’s a win-win-win for the religious right.

  • invalid-0

    Thanks for doing this piece, Allison. I am a master’s student in poli science and have done extensive research into how funding for family planning is beneficial all across the board. Guttmacher has done a lot of great studies to corroborate this, and I just wanted to let you know that I think you wrote a great little article here on the importance of funding for family planning. We have way too many naysayers who don’t really understand the full impact of funding for family planning. Most importantly, medicaid funding must be increased, because it is a way to ensure that women have coverage for the services they need the most. If women know that they have coverage for those services, they will be more likely to seek them out, as opposed to having one child after another that they are simply unable to care for. Great job; keep up the good work.