Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed an economic stimulus package. A previous version of the bill had included provisions for supplying contraception to low-income women on Medicaid. When House Republicans objected to the provision, President Obama asked the Democratic House leadership to remove the family planning provision from the package, which they did. The bill passed on Wednesday night without the family planning provision, and without a single Republican representative voting for the package.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss was about, Time magazine has a good rundown of exactly what happened. The family planning provision - which would not have included any abortion services, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, simply contraceptives - would have been a stimulus measure by reducing health care costs. From the article:
The Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion rights, estimates that every dollar of publicly funded family-planning services saves $4 in state and federal dollars. And when the Congressional Budget Office looked at a very similar provision in 2007, it estimated that the federal savings would have totaled $200 million over five years and $400 million over 10.
It’s disappointing that the leadership in Washington did not commit to helping all women, regardless of their income, make the reproductive choices for themselves right now. But feminists are hopeful that funding for family planning for low-income women will be passed soon.