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Following controversial comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Barack Obama asked that contraceptive funding originally included in the economic stimulus package be dropped, which pleased pro-family and pro-life groups.
BY TIM DRAKERegister Senior Writer
D.C. — Following controversial comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
President Barack Obama asked that contraceptive funding originally included in
the economic stimulus package be dropped.
the $825 billion House’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was $87
billion to help states with Medicaid and an expansion of contraception
criticized the provision as just one example of wasteful spending that would
neither create jobs nor improve the economy.
can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives — how does that
stimulate the economy?” asked Republican minority leader John Boehner at a
White House meeting on Jan. 23. “You can go through a whole host of issues that
have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their
Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the provision during on exchange with George
Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” on Jan. 25. Stephanopoulos asked how such
money would stimulate the economy.
services reduce cost,” replied Pelosi. “Contraception will reduce costs to the
states and to the federal government.”
to Pelosi’s comments was strong, particularly from Catholic leaders.
week, President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on federal funds being used to
promote and perform abortions overseas. Now we have Pelosi arguing that the way
to balance the budget is not by cutting expenditures, but by cutting kids,”
said Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious
and Civil Rights. “We have reached a new low when high-ranking public office
holders in the federal government cast children as the enemy.”
agreed, suggesting that such a view ignores the benefits to the economy in
terms of human capital.
is tied to the economic crisis we’re in. If you keep dwindling the population,
you’re going to have these shockwaves of economic contraction,” said Lawrence
Roberge, author of the 1995 book The Cost of
Abortion, which showed the
deleterious effects abortion has on a nation’s economy. “My analysis is coming
home to roost.”
Roberge compared Pelosi’s remarks with those
made by many in the discredited eugenics and social engineering movement of the
his book Empty
Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About
It, Phil Longman writes: “Population growth is a major source of economic growth:
More people create more demand for the products capitalists sell, and more
supply of the labor capitalists buy. Economists may be able to construct models
of how economies could grow amid a shrinking population, but in the real world,
it has never happened. A nation’s GDP is literally the sum of its labor force
times average output per worker. Thus a decline in the number of workers
implies a decline in an economy’s growth potential.”
comments also drew criticism from some major news hosts and commentators.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and CNN’s Jack Cafferty compared her remarks as similar
to China’s one-child policy.
some family-planning supporters questioned Pelosi’s reasoning.
disappointed that she [Pelosi] would so blithely introduce such programs.
There’s nothing new in what she’s suggesting,” said Robert Prince, senior
lecturer of international studies at the University of Denver Korbel School of
International Studies. While he supports family planning, Prince disagrees with
how such programs have historically been implemented.
are made in a way that demonstrates class, ethnic or racial bias,” said Prince.
“Who’s going to be making those decisions?”
Jan. 27, the president asked Henry Waxman, who chairs the House committee with
jurisdiction over Medicaid, to drop the provision from the package. A
spokesperson from Speaker Pelosi’s office told the Register that the
contraception provision had indeed been dropped.
reports on Jan. 28 suggested that while Democrats may have eliminated
provisions for birth control in the stimulus package, it still contains $335
million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention for the
Centers for Disease Control.
activists were upset by the
provision’s removal. Citing figures provided by a 2007 Congressional Budget
Office study, they suggest that publicly funded family planning could save the
federal government $200 million over five years by helping women avoid
pregnancies that otherwise would lead to Medicaid-funded births.
the anti-contraception forces are able to use distortion and harness a frothing
media to convince Obama to jettison such a pragmatic and common-sense solution,
the next few years may be rockier than we thought,” wrote BirthControlWatch.org
blogger Cristina Page.
and pro-life groups, however, were pleased with the action.
is a huge victory for American taxpayers and for the pro-life movement,” said
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman. “We rejoice that the coffers of Planned
Parenthood and their ilk will be denied … public money for what amounted to a
shameful population-control program that targeted low-income families.”
What the Provision Provided
federal government already provides a 90% match rate for family-planning
services in Medicaid. Opponents of the provision said that it would greatly
expand Medicaid funding for
family-planning services and abortion. The provision would ensure that states
would no longer need federal permission to offer contraception and other
family-planning services under Medicaid.
Smith, senior fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage
Foundation, described the provision as a “radical social agenda” that had no
place in the economic stimulus package.
said that the provision would expand eligibility for Medicaid-sponsored
family-planning services to even those who aren’t poor.
5004 … would make Medicaid into a virtual money machine for family-planning
clinics,” said Smith, adding that the provision would create new eligibility
groups, such as children and college students, and also expand benefits to
include medical diagnosis and treatment services that are provided in
conjunction with family-planning services or in a family-planning setting. He
described it as a “massive loophole.”
the president’s support for family planning and abortion, observers expect that
the provision will make its way into later legislation.
remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose,” President Obama
stated on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to
affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative
Tim Drake is based in
St. Joseph, Minnesota.
As House Speaker, she is the
highest-ranking woman in the U.S. Congress
Born 1940 in Baltimore where father and
brother served as mayor
degree, Trinity College, Washington, D.C. 1962
1977-87 Held several
posts in California Democratic Party, including state and finance chairs.
relations executive, Ogilvy & Mather
1987 Elected to the
House from San Francisco
2001 Named minority
2002-06 Minority leader
U.S. House of Representatives,
of American Politics