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National News

Bush Eases Ban on AIDS Money to Pro-Abortion Groups Abroad

February 18, 2003

President Bush has decided to allow organizations that promote or perform abortions in poor countries to qualify, under some circumstances, for part of the $15 billion he has proposed to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, an administration official said Friday evening. While tailored to ensure no money goes directly to promoting abortion, the decision amounts to a step back from the Mexico City policy of barring foreign aid to groups that consider abortion to be a valid family planning option. Bush reinstated the ban, which was first imposed by President Ronald Reagan but later suspended by the Clinton administration, as one of his first acts after taking office.

The official disclosing the new decision said Saturday the president's approach would allow groups to receive money to fight AIDS through the State Department's foreign assistance program, as long as none of the money went to any family planning activities that encourage or perform abortions. The official said the policy would allow an organization that conducted family planning activities that included abortion in one country to qualify for AIDS money in another country. It would prohibit sending money to an organization that ran integrated health clinics that included both AIDS treatment and abortion or abortion counseling, but would allow it if the AIDS treatment program and family planning activities were conducted and financed separately.

In Congressional testimony last Tuesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration would be looking at the AIDS proposal "and bouncing it against other policies, such as the Mexico City policy, to make sure we have a consistent approach across the whole administration." Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) told Powell: "I appreciate that, because there's many of us up here in Congress that would like to put restraints on the spending to make sure that we aren't going to fund abortions around the world." Some groups that work on health and family planning issues in poor countries said the administration's policy was likely to prove too restrictive, by forcing them to choose between providing a full range of health services and taking the AIDS treatment money from the United States.

Back to other CDC news for February 18, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
New York Times
02.15.03; Richard W. Stevenson



  
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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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