Revocation of International Family Planning Funds May Have ‘Negative Consequences’ for HIV/AIDS Groups
President Bush's executive order barring U.S. funding from going to international organizations that use their own funds to "perform or promote" abortions may have "unintended negative consequences" on overseas HIV/AIDS counseling and education groups, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Under Bush's policy, some clinics and facilities providing both abortion and HIV/AIDS counseling and testing services would lose the entirety of their U.S. funding, including money that goes to HIV/AIDS services. Patricia Sears of the Centre for Development and Population Activities said, "A lot of these family planning organizations are respected ... because they have been giving good information and access to information about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS." Sears cited an organization in India that receives non-U.S. funding for the abortion services it provides separate from the USAID funding received for AIDS education and family planning services. Although the abortion services are funded by European donors and private foundations, the organization will still lose its USAID funding. "A wide range of health services is being jeopardized by a narrow and misguided focus on abortion, which is not the issue here," Kate Bourne of Pathfinder International said. White House spokesperson Scott Stanzel stated that Bush's decision "does not force an unfair choice" on health care providers offering both HIV/AIDS services and abortion. If a clinic "insists" on providing abortion services and loses U.S. funding as a result, "then that is their choice," Stanzel said. According to the Inquirer, Bush's decision has especially "cast a shadow" on Africa, the area most affected by HIV/AIDS (Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/25). Africa Policy Information Center Director Salih Booker criticized Bush's action as "a very antiAfrican move," especially when made in light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Pulling U.S. funds from international family planning organizations is "throwing gasoline on the fire that AIDS is burning in Africa," he said (Meredith McGroarty, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.