Earlier this week, Agudath Israel asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to repudiate her statement that funding birth control reduces government costs, which came in response to a question about why the economic stimulus bill included language allowing states to expand Medicaid family planning coverage without going through a waiver process. The National Council of Jewish Women said Pelosi was absolutely stating that "giving women control over their own fertility is not only a moral good, it is sound economics." The organization is also disappointed with Obama for asking for the elimination of that family planning provision in the economic stimulus bill. Here’s NCJW president Nancy Ratzan’s response to Agudath Israel and the president:
In a January 28 article, the JTA reports on Agudath Israel’s statement, criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her defense of funding family planning programs for low-income women in the economic recovery package.
Actually Speaker Pelosi should be applauded for understanding that giving women control over their own fertility is not only a moral good, it is sound economics. Women must be allowed to plan their own parenthood. In fact, their social, economic, and political equality depends on it.
It is deeply disappointing that President Obama who has a strong voting record of support for family planning, yielded to anti-birth control forces. By asking for the elimination of the provision to allow states to expand Medicaid family planning coverage without going through a waiver process, the president missed an important opportunity to educate Congress and the public on the connection of this issue to women’s economic well-being.
It is indisputable that health care is a very large and important part of our economy. The economic recovery package includes $87 billion to assist states in funding Medicaid – a clear acknowledgement of the relationship between health care and economic recovery.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Medicaid family planning funding could save the federal government $200 million over five years by reducing unplanned pregnancies that end in Medicaid-funded births. Removing family planning funds from this pot of money, plays into the hands of those who see seek to make birth control controversial and unworthy of public support.
Family planning is an integral part of health care that enjoys overwhelming support and has been a part of the federal budget for nearly 40 years. It is past time to end the guerilla warfare in Congress and elsewhere that seizes every opportunity to undermine family planning and to instead recognize the important benefits to public health, public budgets, economic recovery and to women, of adequate funding for birth control programs.