Bush to Back Bill on AIDS and Abortion
April 29, 2003
Over the objections of his conservative base, President Bush is to make a Rose Garden speech today supporting a $15 billion international AIDS bill that will direct some money to groups that promote abortion.Adapted from:
Sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the bill has been the subject of intense negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats. Now it is drawing fire from conservatives who say Bush's support is an attempt to win the support of moderate swing voters in 2004.
The bill's origin was in the State of the Union address, when Bush proposed a five-year, $15 billion plan to fight AIDS. The money was to go to prevention and treatment in 12 African nations, Haiti and Guyana.
But instead of the quick enactment expected, the proposal stalled in partisan arguments. Conservatives said the money should not go to groups that promote abortion because they are barred by the Mexico City rule from receiving foreign aid. Democrats said conservatives were trying to broaden the rule.
Bush eventually compromised to allow an international organization to receive the U.S. AIDS money so long as its abortion and family planning services were conducted and financed separately. But that compromise is not included in Hyde's bill, which makes no mention of the Mexico City rule or abortion. Longtime abortion opponent Hyde said is it more important to him that his AIDS bill passes and that including abortion will set Democrats against it. Administration officials say they will nonetheless press to keep AIDS money from going directly to family planning. Also angering conservatives, who favor abstinence, has been the Democrats' addition of "use of condoms" to one of the healthy lifestyles the AIDS initiative is meant to promote.
AIDS groups generally praised the legislation and Bush's initiative. But Ken Connor, president of the anti-abortion Family Research Council, said, "The AIDS lobby will be very happy, the homosexual lobby will be very happy, the condom crowd will be happy, the Planned Parenthood folks will be happy. That's not the president's base."
New York Times
04.29.03; Elisabeth Bumiller
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.