By the numbers

The cost of birth control: By the numbers

The burning birth-control controversies boil down to two seemingly simple questions: How much does contraception cost, and who should pay for it?

Much of the political drama and intrigue of the past month has revolved around what seems like a fairly straightforward topic: The cost of birth control. Infuriating the Catholic Church, the Obama administration declared that female contraception is sufficiently expensive that most employer-sponsored health insurance plans should offer many varieties free of charge. Tensions ratcheted up after Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified that the birth control pill costs a potentially onerous $1,000 a year; Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators said Fluke and her allies want everyone to pay for them to have lots of sex. Cue liberal outrage. But what are the facts behind the hullaballoo? Here's a look at some numbers that factor into the cost of contraception:

$9Monthly cost of some generic versions of the birth control pill ($108 a year)

$90Monthly cost of some brand-name versions of the pill ($1,080 a year)

$55Monthly cost of vaginal ring or birth-control patch ($660 a year)

$60Annual cost of using a diaphragm and spermicide, including mandatory doctor's exam

$150Annual cost of using condoms, twice a week

$220-$460Annual cost of getting a birth control shot (Depo-Provera)

$600-$1,000One-time cost of getting an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted (effective for up to 12 years)

$350-$1,000One-time cost of a vasectomy (male sterilization)

$1,500-$6,000One-time cost of female sterilization

$0Up-front cost of abstinence and "fertility awareness" (rhythm method)

5Percent of U.S. women who use an IUD, which is 99 percent effective

75Percent of participants in a 10,000-woman St. Louis study that chose IUDs from a range of free contraception options

80Percent of those IUD users who have stuck with the method after a year

50Percent of birth control pill users in the same study who've stuck with their choice after a year

6.7 millionPregnancies in the U.S. each year

3.2 millionUnintended pregnancies in the U.S. each year (49 percent of total)

$12,500Annual amount average, middle-income couples spend on each child, according to the USDA

$11.1 billionPublic funds spent on the births of unintended babies in 2006 ($6.5 billion federal, $4.6 billion states)

$7 billionAmount Medicaid and other government programs saved in 2008 by investing $1.9 billion in family planning centers (Guttmacher Institute)

99Percent of women age 15-44 who've had sex and used contraception at some point

50Percent of women on the pill who say they take it for non-contraceptive health reasons (often as well as for birth control)

Sources: AP, Guttmacher Institute (2,3), Houston Chronicle, U.S. News

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