Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Family Planning Eliminated From the Stimulus: How DID THAT Happen?

So, I'm a little less in love today.

It's that moment when one realizes that one's newly found love isn't perfect.

The stimulus plan originally included a provision to make it easier for the states to use medicaid funding for family planning services for low income women. The Republicans vociferously disagreed, and the White House didn't push back -- at all -- but just removed the provision. See Christina Page's insightful blog over at RH RealityCheck, Et tu, Barack?

How easy it is to make the sexuality and reproductive health needs of women an issue that can be pushed to the side. Now, we can hope and work to make sure that family planning services are adequately funded in the federal budget so this isn't a death knoll -- but it's a good reminder that no matter who is the President and who controls the Congress, we need to not be complacent about speaking out.


Joel Monka said...

The reason President Obama didn't push back at all is that he knew they were right- it was very poor procedure to tack family planning onto the stimulus bill. Stunts like that are how we've gotten into half the messes we're in now.
Anything added to a bill should be germane to the intent of the bill. Family planning is not an economic stimulus.

Once that rule is broken, it's a short trip back to the "vehicle bill". A "vehicle bill" works like this: a senator introduces a bill with a nice title- "The Teddy Bear Act; to provide local police and fire with funds for the purpose of giving stuffed toys to traumatized children." Then in committee, the following amendment is adopted: "strike all after the title." The bill is now an empty vehicle. Then a second amendment is adopted; "after the title, insert 'strip mining is now permitted in Yellowstone National Park'" The senator gets to pay off his special interests, while telling the voters back home he voted for the "Teddy Bear Act".

There's a right way and a wrong way to do almost anything. Surely, now that the Democrats have the Presidency, both houses of congress, 2/3 of the state governors, more than half the state legislatures, and 3/4 of the big city mayors, they can afford to do things the right way? If not now, when?

Debra W. Haffner said...

Joel, the United Methodist church answered your question in their alert today -- and to others of you, it includes a number to call. Here it is:

Ironically, when the Congressional Budget Office assessed a virtually identical provision in 2007, it found that it would save the federal government $200 million over five years by helping women voluntarily avoid pregnancies that otherwise would result in Medicaid-funded births. The money saved could be spent for job creation.

The United Methodist Church is a strong supporter of family planning believing that women and men are entitled to access to the full range of health care services. “We support adequate public funding and increased participation in family planning services by public and private agencies, including church-related institutions, with the goal of making such services accessible to all, regardless of economic status or geographic location.” (“Responsible Parenthood”, Book of Resolutions)

To cut these funds is short sighted and will hurt women, men and families and will reduce opportunities for economic recovery. Please call President Obama and urge him to leave funding for family planning in the stimulus package! The White House number is 202-456-1414.

Joel Monka said...

Actually, I've already emailed about it- but I did say it deserved it's own legislation. And it does. Sorry, but the "It'll save the government some money in the future, which could then be spent on creating jobs" is not a jobs stimulus; too far removed in time and space- how does that help someone who is unemployed RIGHT NOW? That's what the stimulus package is about; here and now.

Can't congress walk and chew gum at the same time? What's wrong with each program having it's own legislation? Where's the necessity in tacking it onto the stimulus package- doesn't family planning deserve it's own program?

Robin Edgar said...

"Family Planning Eliminated From the Stimulus: How DID THAT Happen?"

I am still trying to figure out how this could possibly happen on your blog Rev. Haffner.

Doesn't the subject of menstruation deserve a few blog posts on a blog dedicated to the connection between sexuality and religion? You might be surprised by just how closely menstruation is connected to religion Rev. Haffner.

Debra W. Haffner said...

Robin, I write my blog to have my say on new ideas, current events, etc...I would cover menstruation with a talk with preteens and teenagers...I would discuss the Biblical texts with my seminary students...but I don't think there's been anything new to write about menstruation since the Pill or tampons were invented....! What were you looking for?

Paul Wilczynski said...

I absolutely believe that the government should support family planning.

That being said, I don't think it belongs in an economic stimulus package - it belongs in its own bill. The economic stimulus package should contain money for fixing roads and bridges, for sealing up buildings to conserve fuel, etc. Just for things that actually create jobs.

The Republicans are killing Democrats for putting everything they've ever wanted to spend money on in the economic stimulus package, and it's making passage of the package extremely difficult.