Obama, Pelosi Cave On Contraceptive Funding

There has been a lot of back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans this week about the addition to Obama's $825 billion stimulus package of $200 million for contraceptive and sexual health services for the poor.

(That's .024% of the total stimulus package, if you're counting).

The provision that pissed off Republicans so much that they threatened to vote across the plan en masse wasn't even a massive service to hand out birth control willy-nilly on the street. It was a change to administrative law that would have allowed the 23 states that don't yet participate in a waiver program allowing them to cover contraceptive services for poor women who don't qualify for Medicaid to do so without a long application process.

State Option to Cover Family Planning Services. Under current law, the Secretary has the authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to grant waivers to states to allow them to cover family planning services and supplies to low-income women who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid. The bill would give states the option to provide such coverage without obtaining a waiver. States could continue to use the existing waiver authority if they preferred.

As Samhita at Feministing pointed out, it's simply a way to reduce administrative costs to states that wish to provide this service. How terrible!

In the midst of all the hullabaloo, that fact was, of course, lost, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a lot of heat for daring to suggest that providing birth control services to people that couldn't afford them might stimulate the economy by having people spend money they wouldn't already have — the same way the stimulus package includes money for roads. But that wasn't good enough for pretty much anyone, so Pelosi and Barack Obama have decided to pull the money out of the stimulus package to increase its chances of passing both the House and the Senate.

Both Pelosi and Obama plan to bring the legislation back at some point, but that hasn't stopped the criticism from the left (nor should it). But hopefully by then they'll care slightly less about getting some overwhelming majority to vote for it for the sake of optics and a little more about passing legislation that Americans by and large support.

Obama Begs Waxman to Yank Birth Control from Stimulus [Washington Independent]
House Dems Axe Birth Control Funds From Stimulus Bill [Fox News]
New Right-Wing Stimulus Myth: Progressives Want To Spend ‘Hundreds Of Millions On Contraceptives’ [Think Progress]
Conservative lies: Wasteful spending on contraception hurts our economic stimulus package [Feministing]
Officials: Family planning money may be dropped [Associated Press]
Daily Intrigue: Mirth control [Politico]
On Obama's Urging, House Dems To Drop Family Planning From Stimpak [Marc Ambinder]
Obama On Family Planning Funds [Marc Ambinder]
Politico's Thrush invents Pelosi controversy [Media Matters]