RMC Responds: Taking Responsibility

One commenter this week lamented that women should “take responsibility for your own actions… I also paid for my own contraceptives. I did not expect the government to take over that responsibility for me.”Image

We agree on many fronts especially that Personal Responsibility is one of the core tenets of the conservative doctrine, and something we highly value at Republican Majority for Choice. But we also want to take a closer look at the very real fiscal benefits that greater access to contraception has for families, our nation and taxpayers. That’s right; preventive care now saves us all expenses in the long term!

Increasing access to preventive reproductive healthcare like affordable contraception gives individuals the tools to make smart decisions and take responsibility for themselves and their families. And as we learned in a new study this week, family planning has wide reaching benefits for women and families: Increased access to family planning is linked to higher adult incomes and higher rates of high school and College completion. The study lists many reasons behind these significant advances. When families have the ability to space their families, more time and money is invested in each individual child, resulting in higher educational achievement for both children and parents.

Most of you reading this today will never have to make the choice between food and clothing for your family or medications, like birth control, for yourself.  We are the lucky ones – but we can’t simply turn a blind eye to the fact that many families in our country are in poverty and we, as Republicans, want to give them a hand up not a hand out.  We support proven effective ways to help low income families move out of poverty and into a place where they too can give back. Family planning prevents unintended pregnancies that incur huge costs for both individuals and the government. Women with unintended pregnancies are less likely to receive prenatal care, and much more likely to require government funds to cover the cost of the birth as well as postpartum and infant care.

Unfortunately, many areas of the country still lack adequate access to preventive family planning services. Of the 37 million women in need of contraceptive care in 2010, 19.1 million were at an income level below 250% of the federal poverty level or were younger than 20. In many rural and low-income communities reproductive health clinics that receive public funding through Title X, the government’s only family planning initiative, are women’s only source for preventive reproductive healthcare.  A common misconception is that contraceptives are inexpensive. But as we’ve discussed on this blog before, the initial cost of contraceptives, especially Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) such as IUDs and implants can reach up to one thousand dollars – and that is in addition to the cost of multiple doctor’s visits. Birth control is not cheap. And low-income women have reported being forced to make a decision between providing for their families and covering the costs of another month of birth control pills.

Increasing access to preventive care through services like Title X is both effective and cost-efficient.  A recent report from Guttmacher Reproductive Health Institute found that for every dollar spent on preventive healthcare for underprivileged communities in 2010, $5.68 was saved in costs that would have been incurred by Medicaid. Such policies not only provide significant cost savings, but allow families to take responsibility for themselves, invest in their families’ future and stop relying on government subsidies.

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