Policy & Politics
Obama Lifts "Mexico City" Policy, Could Affect HIV/AIDS Efforts
January 26, 2009
President Obama on Friday issued an executive order repealing the "Mexico City" Policy, which banned U.S. funding for international health groups that use their own funds to perform abortions, lobby their governments in favor of abortion rights or provide counseling about terminating pregnancies, the Washington Post reports. Obama also said that he would work with Congress to restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund to prevent HIV/AIDS, reduce poverty, and improve health care access for women and children in 154 countries. The Post reports that Obama's decision was praised by women's health advocates, family planning groups and others for allowing USAID to fund programs that offer HIV prevention and care, birth control and medical services (Stein/Shear, Washington Post, 1/24).
The effects of the policy have been "compounded" by a requirement in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that organizations receiving funding must oppose commercial sex work, Nataraj writes, adding that the "reasoning behind this pledge is that by denying services or outreach to those who work as" commercial sex workers, such work "will be abolished and HIV/AIDS will be reduced." She writes that the "reality is otherwise, because women enter sex work for a variety of deeply entrenched sociocultural and economic reasons that must be addressed before [commercial sex work] can be reduced. This means that organizations that work with sex workers are threatened with a loss of funding for serving those most in need of information and protection from HIV/AIDS" (Nataraj, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26).
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