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National News

Groups Oppose Mix of Abortion Politics, AIDS Funds

March 4, 2003

In a letter sent to President Bush last week, more than 100 advocacy groups voiced their opposition to a proposed AIDS plan that would prohibit funding to foreign nongovernmental organizations that do not separate their HIV/AIDS programs from family planning services. Under the proposal, only foreign NGOs that do not offer abortion counseling or services or those that separate abortion services would be eligible for new AIDS funds proposed by the Bush administration, according to a State Department memorandum.

This policy is problematic because the vast majority of organizations in Africa and elsewhere have integrated services, said the Global AIDS Alliance, a non-partisan advocacy group. Combining services is more cost effective than maintaining separate services, and better meets the needs of women, GAA noted. According to GAA, this is the first time that the "Mexico City Policy" restrictions have been applied to HIV/AIDS programs. The Mexico City Policy bars US funding to groups that use non-US funds to perform abortion. Bush restored the policy, initiated in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan and reversed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, on the first business day of his presidency.

While the groups applauded Bush's State of the Union call for a dramatic increase in AIDS funding, they are troubled by the move to extend the Mexico City Policy to AIDS funding.

There is ample evidence that health care is markedly improved when such services are integrated, said the letter to Bush. "These restrictions are morally and ethically indefensible and contradict basic principles of public health, human rights, and economic efficiency," said Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, one of the signers.

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"For many of the world's most vulnerable women, family planning services are really the only point of contact for information about HIV/AIDS," said Kate Bourne, executive vice president of International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

Back to other CDC news for March 4, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Reuters Health
02.28.03; Anthony J. Brown, M.D.



  
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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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