A $200 million provision for contraception programs is being dropped from the $825 billion stimulus package following criticism from pro-lifers and Republican congressmen.
President Barack Obama personally called House Democratic leaders to ask them to remove the provision, an Obama aide told CNN. One of his calls reportedly went to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and one of the most influential liberal members of Congress.
The president reportedly urged the provision’s removal because it was a hot button issue among Republicans and did not focus on creating jobs as quickly as possible.
The provision would have provided contraception to low-income families and removed a requirement that states seek permission from the federal government to provide family planning services for Medicaid recipients.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi entered into the fray in a weekend interview when she defended the allocation of millions as a cost reducing measure.
Pelosi also characterized the funding of the contraceptives as helping with the fiscal crisis. “The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government,” she said.
On Monday Fr. Thomas Euteneur of Human Life International criticized Pelosi’s justification of the proposal, charging that her argument reduced human beings to their economic value and also treated children as a hindrance to economic growth.
“What she and her fellow anti-life crusaders are doing is trying to sneak their destructive ideology into law by convincing the ignorant that it is fiscally necessary,” he charged in an e-mail to CNA.