Well, I suppose my Best Week Ever had to end sometime. Reportedly Barack Obama is “begging” Sen. Henry Waxman to pull contraception funding from the economic stimulus package.
Republicans are bloviating about how the provision, which makes it easier for states to expand Medicaid coverage of contraceptives, is wasteful and somehow subsidizing abortion. House Republican leader John Boehner is leading the charge, asking, “How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives? How does that stimulate the economy?”
Well, as Cory Richards points out on RH Reality Check, the $825 billion stimulus package already includes $87 billion to help states with Medicaid. And that’s not just because when the economy is bad and jobs are lost, more people rely on government benefits — it’s also because state programs are hurting, and Medicaid spending helps to create new jobs. While I doubt this is part of the calculus, I’ll also throw it out there that a healthy workforce is a more efficient and effective workforce; further, having children you can’t afford is certainly a financial burden.
Either way, though, Medicaid spending generally isn’t being attacked; it’s contraception spending. The reason that contraception is even in the package in the first place is because of Bush administration rules that made states specifically request federal government permission to fund contraception services. And contraception spending saves money in the long run — some $200 million over five years, according to a Congressional Budget Office evaluation of a nearly identical plan from 2007. This will surprise none of us, but contraception is a lot cheaper than the medical expenses related to pregnancy and childbirth.
And of course there’s the abortion issue. Boehner claims that funding contraception is a subsidy for “the abortion industry” — proving again that this isn’t about fiscal responsibility or taxpayer dollars, but about controlling women’s bodies and punishing women for having sex. From Cory:
Coming from a member who is adamantly antiabortion, Rep. Boehner’s opposition is doubly ironic, since publicly funded family planning services significantly reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions that occur. Each year, the contraceptive services provided just at publicly funded clinics help women avoid 1.4 million unintended pregnancies, which would result in 640,000 unintended births and 600,000 abortions. Without these services, the number of abortion performed each year in the United States would be 49% higher than it currently is.
I wish President Obama would just repeat that paragraph ad nauseum.
Update: Thanks a lot, liberal male allies. You mean a Democratic president made “concessions” on the backs of low-income women and it didn’t earn him any benefits from Republicans? Shocking, just shocking. And if you were looking for a reason to scratch your own eyeballs out this fine evening, read the comments.
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