Birth control funding stripped from stimulus
John Byrne
Published: Wednesday January 28, 2009

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Obama concedes contraception measure

In an apparent effort to appease House Republicans, President Barack Obama has stripped funding for birth control from the $825 billion stimulus package.

According to the White House, while Obama “believed that the policy of increased funding for family planning was the right one ... he didn’t believe that this bill was the vehicle to make that happen,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

The decision to cut birth control funding from the stimulus package comes on the heels of a victory for pro-choice advocates, who won a reprieve from the so-called "global gag rule," which prohibited countries and organizations receiving US aid from offering programs discussing abortion options for women. But the gag rule had been previously stripped by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents, so the decision to scrap the gag rule didn't come as a surprise.

Obama called House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to formally nix the birth control funds, according to Politico. The bill is slated to go to a vote today.

House Republicans had bemoaned the provision.

“How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-OH) remarked last week. “How does that stimulate the economy?”

The birth control measure was part of a $300 million package intended to slow the spread of STDs. The United States has the highest STD rate among industrialized nations in the world.

The proposal sought to cut costs for states by making it easier for them to pay for contraception for women under Medicaid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was criticized by Republicans after recently claiming that "contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government".

Boehner then complained to Fox News, "Regardless of where anyone stands on taxpayer funding for contraceptives and the abortion industry, there is no doubt that this once little-known provision in the congressional Democrats' spending plan has nothing to do with stimulating the economy and creating more American jobs."