A group led by former first lady Christie Vilsack has released a report that documents how the state could save taxpayer dollars by investing in family planning programs. Vilsack is executive director of the Iowa Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies. The study was conducted by the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center.

Vilsack says the study found every one dollar the state spends on preventing unintended pregnancies saves taxpayers $3.78 in the first year. Over five years, the savings amount to $15.12. The analysis is based on what Vilsack calls “averted costs.”

Those include prenatal care, delivery costs, pediatric care, food assistance and child care assistance provided through the Women, Infants and Children – or WIC – program. Vilsack says around half of the 52,000 women who will become preganant in Iowa this year will do so unintentionally. She says helping low-income or uninsured women avoid unintended pregnancy can save taxpayers thousands of dollars.

“We think the most important thing from the report is that the state can realize these savings right away,” Vilsack said. “Because when you avert an unintended pregnancy, you immediately save the cost of prenatal care and within nine months you save the health care costs associated with delivery.” The study is the first since 1992 to examine the costs versus benefits of family planning services in Iowa. Vilsack says Iowa ranks 48th in the nation in the availability of family planning services.

See the full report here.