Washington, DC — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today hailed the release of a new report from the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute affirming that their legislation to expand access to contraception through Medicaid would reduce significantly the number of unintended pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute Study, “Rekindling Efforts to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy: A Matter of Equity and Common Sense,” found that legislation authored by Senators Clinton and Reid would enable low income women to prevent a total of nearly 500,000 unwanted pregnancies annually, including 200,000 abortions. By helping prevent an estimated 225,000 unwanted births, study found that the Clinton-Reid approach would also save an estimated $1.5 billion in annual federal and state expenditures. The Clinton-Reid bill, the Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act of 2006, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY).
“This study makes clear that the way to reduce unintended pregnancies is to prevent them in the first place. Our common sense approach would have a significant impact and I hope these findings will build support for our legislation on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Clinton.
“Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, there is no question that the rate of unintended pregnancy in America is unacceptably high,” said Senator Reid. “If we’re serious about breaking the stalemate in the abortion debate, both sides must stop posturing and start seeking the positive results we share. We have to work side-by-side to reduce the staggering rate of unintended pregnancies and the resulting abortions.”
The Clinton-Reid bill will strengthen Medicaid coverage of family planning services by ensuring that Medicaid coverage for family planning services remains accessible to low-income women. The bill will also amend the Medicaid statute to ensure that states extend coverage for family planning services and supplies to women who would be entitled to Medicaid funded prenatal, labor, delivery and postpartum care.
The United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies in the industrialized world. Half of the six million pregnancies in America are unintended, and nearly half of those end in abortion every year. Many of these pregnancies can be prevented if we remove barriers preventing women from affordable contraception.
Today’s report follows on the heels of a report released by the Guttmacher Institute in May revealing the tragic two-tiered system that is steadily emerging in our country. High-income women have quick, convenient access to contraceptives, while low-income women do not and as a result more often become pregnant unintentionally. In fact, a poor woman is four times as likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy as a higher-income woman.
Senators Clinton and Reid have also introduced the Prevention First Act, a comprehensive bill aimed at reducing unintended pregnancies, preventing abortions and improving women’s health. The bill would increase Title X, the nation’s only program devoted solely to making family planning services available to all women; reduce teen pregnancy; provide equitable insurance coverage for contraception; and increase awareness about Emergency Contraception. The Prevention First Act would also save scarce public health dollars by: reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, reducing the rate of sexually transmitted disease, reducing the costs to the Medicaid program, and providing for the early detection of HIV, breast cancer and cervical cancer.
Senator Clinton has also introduced a Congressional Resolution, introduced in the House by Representative Nita Lowey, in support of strengthening family planning services. The Clinton-Lowey resolution calls on all members of Congress to put themselves on the record in support of family planning services and education. The resolution does not cost any money, it simply asks that Congress officially go on the record in support of programs and policies that make it easier for all women at all income levels to obtain contraceptives and use them consistently and correctly over time.