By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 26, 2009 ( – Hundreds of millions of the nearly $1 trillion price tag on President Obama’s economic stimulus bill is expected to go to contraception and the abortion industry.

Last week, during consideration of the congressional Democrats’ spending bill by the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the panel made universal a Clinton-era Medicaid waiver that allowed states to seek federal funding for contraception and abortion. Under the new program, the federal government would match state funding for “family planning” services with $9 for every $1.

House Republicans immediately criticized the move, questioning whether such funding actually helped stimulate the economy or create more jobs.

“How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives – how does that stimulate the economy?” questioned House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH). “You can go through a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their jobs.”

House Democrats defended the measure, however, as an indirect means of reducing the burden on state budgets allotted to children’s health and education.

George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a self-avowed Catholic: “Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?”

Pelosi responded: “Well, the family planning services reduce cost. 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. No,” Pelosi responded. “We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue criticized Pelosi’s statement, saying: “Now we have Pelosi arguing that the way to balance the budget is not by cutting expenditures, but by cutting kids. We have reached a new low when high-ranking public office holders in the federal government cast children as the enemy. But at least it explains their enthusiasm for abortion-on-demand.”

James Pethokoukis of U.S. News and World Report called Pelosi’s reasoning “wrong on so many levels, one of which is looking at children born to the ‘wrong people’ as economic burdens rather gifts [sic], the music makers, the dreamers of dreams.”