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National News

Politics of Abortion Delays $15 Billion to Fight AIDS

March 6, 2003

President Bush's $15 billion global AIDS initiative, announced during his State of the Union address, is getting bogged down in partisan disputes over how to spend the money and whether to steer it away from clinics that promote abortion. While the White House wants $200 million this year for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Democrats -- notably presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) -- want as much as $1 billion for the fund.

Perhaps a larger issue is the "Mexico City Policy," which prohibits international family planning clinics from receiving taxpayer dollars if they promote or perform abortions. Pressed by abortion opponents to extend the rule to clinics that also have AIDS programs, Bush has decided on a compromise: Organizations can perform abortions and receive AIDS money so long as they keep the programs separate and strictly account for the money.

But some conservatives, including Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), are pressing for the White House decision to be written into law -- which people on both sides of the issue say this could derail an AIDS financing bill. Leading Republicans, including Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.), the majority leader, and Rep. Henry Hyde (Ill.), chair of the House International Relations Committee and a fierce opponent of abortion, are discouraging colleagues from inserting the Mexico City Policy into the bill. AIDS advocates say it is essential for family planning clinics to be eligible for global AIDS money, because they care for pregnant women who may be HIV-infected.

Last year, the Senate unanimously passed legislation, sponsored by Kerry and Frist, that would have authorized $2.2 billion for the Global Fund over the next two years. But Bush, arguing that the two-year-old fund does not have a proven track record, wants the State Department to distribute most of the money. Frist agrees and has taken his name off the Kerry-Frist bill, irritating Kerry and some other Democrats. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Foreign Relations Committee chair, has been trying to draft a bipartisan bill but has no idea when it will be ready. In the House, Hyde is expected to introduce a bipartisan measure authorizing $3 billion a year, over the next five years, for global AIDS. Bush's $15 billion proposal would authorize only $2 billion the first year. AIDS advocates fear that if Congress does not act quickly, it will soon become consumed with other matters.

Back to other CDC news for March 6, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
New York Times
03.06.03; Sheryl Gay Stolberg



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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