Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reproductive Rights: Part 4

The cost for an unplanned pregnancy is much more expensive than contraception. Raising a child from infancy to age 18 costs over $220,000 per child; many of those with unplanned pregnancies wind up needing some type of aid which will be paid for by taxpayers.  In 2010, 46.9 million people in the United States were living in poverty, the largest number of people in the 52 years records have been kept.

As funding to health service centers is decreased or abandoned, and with laws that attempt to eliminate insurance coverage, women can no longer access birth control. Denying reproductive rights affects women in all socio-economic levels but it impacts those under the poverty line the most since they have less income. Without access to birth control, the population explodes and the number of people, including children, living in poverty also expands.

With unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, the situation sometimes deteriorates to the point of abandonment and/or abuse. For those people who would say, “there’s always foster care or adoption”, here is a shocking reality check. Foster care is a huge expense especially for a system that's failing the children in its care.  As of 2009, there were over 420,000 children in foster care in the U.S. and it was costing taxpayers $5 billion dollars per year.  

In 2008, in the state of Oklahoma alone, there were over 120,000 unplanned pregnancies to females under the age of 19; in the U.S., the number was over 20,000,000.  That's right, over 20 million unplanned pregnancies to children under the age of 19.  That same year, there were only 2,787 adoptions in Oklahoma, and 135,813 adoptions in the U.S.  That's a lot of children that are paying the price for us to have our heads in the sand.  

Currently, the World Health Organization ranks the United States at 50th in maternal mortality and states the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the U.S. is 5 times more probable than in Greece.  According to Amnesty International, death rates among women in pregnancy and labor have doubled in the U.S. from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1987 to 13.3 per 100,000 in 2006.  Over 50% of these deaths are preventable.  Access to reproductive health care is one way to reduce these preventable deaths. 

Nearly 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, and of those, nearly 40% end in abortion.  According to a Guttmacher Institute study, publicly funded family planning facilities prevented 1.94 million unintended pregnancies which would resulted in 830,000 unplanned births and 810,000 abortions during the year 2006.  So, instead of denying women their reproductive rights and eliminating funding to educational programs and health care facilities, additional funding should be implemented as a federal mandate in every state in the U.S.  By providing universal access to these resources, the numbers of unintended births and abortions would both be reduced and in the long run, the expense to taxpayers as well as the number of women and children living in poverty would all decrease. 

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