Contraceptive Measure Dropped from Stimulus

ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports:

House Democrats have agreed to drop family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill.

The contraceptive provision was dropped after President Barack Obama placed a call to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., on Monday. Waxman is the chairman of the committee that inserted the contraception provision into the stimulus package last week.

Obama asked him to remove the measure from the bill, according to a Democratic congressional aide familiar with the call, and the decision was made by House Democrats on Tuesday to do so.   

Under the scuttled contraceptive provision, states would have been able to offer family planning services -- including contraceptives -- under Medicaid, the government health program for the poor, without having to obtain federal permission.

Now that the provision has been dropped, states will need to seek a federal waiver before being allowed to use Medicaid to provide family planning services and supplies to low income women.

Controversy over the contraception provision was sparked over the weekend when George Stephanopoulos asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about it on ABC's "This Week."

"Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?" asked Stephanopoulos.

"Well, the family planning services reduce cost," said Pelosi. "They reduce cost. 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."

"So no apologies for that?" asked Stephanopoulos.

"No apologies," said Pelosi. "No. We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy. . . ."

Read the full transcript here.

UPDATE:

During Tuesday's briefing with reporters, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Barack Obama approves of the contraceptive measure but conveyed to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., by phone on Mondaythat the stimulus package was not the right place for it.

"The president called Chairman Waxman yesterday and said that while he believed that the policy of increased funding for family planning was the right one, that he didn't believe this bill was the vehicle to make that happen," said Gibbs.

ABC News' David Chalian contributed to this report.

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