Roundup: Pelosi Defends Family Planning Funds in Stimulus Package

Emily Douglas

Pelosi defends inclusion of family planning funds in economic stimulus plan; Obama to seek to restore funding to UNFPA; reactions to the repeal of the global gag rule.

Economic Stimulus Plan Includes Family Planning Funds
Congress’s economic stimulus plan includes hundreds of millions of
dollars in funding to expand family planning services, and House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making no apologies for that inclusion.  On ABC, Pelosi explained:

"The family planning services reduce cost," Pelosi said, "One of the
elements of this package is assistance to the states. 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."

When George Stephanopolous asked Pelosi, "So no apologies for that?  Pelosi respondend, "No apologies."

The New York Times reports,

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[Republican Leader Rep. John] Boehner and other Republicans have taken issue with the large chunk
of funding in the stimulus package — some $300 billion all told — that
will go to shore up the budgets of states. That figure includes
billions in state aid to education and such controversial pieces as
millions in spending for family-planning initiatives.

Paul Krugman today called Boehner’s attack an "obvious cheap shot."

Obama to Seek to Restore Funding for UNFPA
When President Obama repealed the global gag rule, he also stated he’d seek to restore funding to UNFPA, reports Laura Meckler in the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Obama also said he would work with Congress to restore U.S.
funding for the U.N. Population Fund. Mr. Bush, like his Republican
predecessors, concluded that the fund supported China’s one-child
policy and therefore, under U.S. law, wasn’t eligible for taxpayer
funding. Supporters of the fund say that it isn’t involved in the China
policy and point to studies that back them up.

Congress has consistently appropriated funding for the agency, all
of which was diverted by the Bush administration to other programs.
Advocates calculate that a total of $235 million since 2002 has been
withheld from the U.N. program, which serves about 150 nations.

Obama made it clear that international family planning funding should not be a "political wedge issue." 

Reactions to the Repeal of the Global Gag Rule
On Beliefnet,
Steven Waldman wonders whether repealing the global gag rule is
"actually a ‘pro-life’ position."  He concludes that a memo from the
Third Way arguing that it is is "quite thought-provoking."  The memo
points out that the repeal would reduce the number of abortions
worldwide, prevent countless pregnancy-related deaths and illnesses,
and save the lives of countless children worldwide.

The New York Times editorialized
in favor of President Obama’s repeal of the global gag rule, writing,
"President Obama on Friday began dismantling his predecessor’s broad
damaging assault on women’s reproductive health and freedom. He lifted
the odious gag rule that President George W. Bush imposed on
international family planning groups and began trying to restore
financing to the United Nations Population Fund."  The Times also calls
for swift passage of Prevention First, writing, "We also hope it will
press hard for passage of the Prevention First
legislation designed to reduce abortions by, for example, facilitating
honest sex education and improved access to contraceptives."

Pregnant WBNA Star Called "Selfish"
The Reproductive Rights Professors Blog put it well: "Public to
pregnant women: don’t have an abortion, but don’t have a child either
if it means inconveniencing others."  This time, the public is blaming the Los Angeles’ Sparks Candace Parker, who is pregnant, for putting her desire for a family above her obligation to her teammates.  The New York Times reports:

“My whole career has been trying to please people in basketball,”
Parker, a 22-year-old newlywed, said Friday in a telephone interview.
“Now it’s time to please myself.” She added, “For me, family has always
come first.”…

W.N.B.A. Commissioner Donna Orender said her initial reaction to
Parker’s pregnancy was a quiet sigh of resignation. Then she thought of
all the women in the more traditional workplace struggling with the
issue of when or if to start a family, and she realized that Parker’s
pregnancy provided a perfect modeling moment.


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