It’s no coincidence that unintended pregnancy and STD rates are highest in South Carolina’s poorest and most rural counties, where access to family planning and reproductive health services are minimal or nonexistent. According to a 2011 Guttmacher Institute report, there were 52,000 unintended pregnancies in South Carolina among women aged 15-44 in 2006. In fact, 58 percent of all pregnancies in South Carolina are unintended! At an average cost of $11,700 per birth, the public-sector spent $11 billion nationally on births as a result of unintended pregnancy. This is a problem we can’t afford to ignore.
Births to teen mothers have a particularly severe economic impact. Births to young mothers cost South Carolina taxpayers approximately $197 million annually. This cost includes, among other things:
Between 1991 and 2008, there were approximately 151,849 teen births in our state, costing taxpayers a total of $4.1 billion.
As a community, we must acknowledge and address the fundamental issues that underlie these numbers. We can then work together to build capacity, on both local and statewide levels, to promote the healthy development of our young citizens.