‘Mexico City Policy’ will Drain Funding from AIDS Prevention Programs, Planned Parenthood of South Africa Warns
President Bush's reinstatement of the "Mexico City policy," which prohibits the federal funding of overseas family planning organizations that use their own funds to perform or advocate for abortion, has "signaled the end" of U.S. funding to the Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa and may threaten the existence of its sex education programs, the Baltimore Sun reports. Because its 22 centers around the nation offer information and counseling for abortion, the organization stands to lose about $650,000 -- or about 25% of its annual budget -- in direct and indirect funding from the United States. PPASA's expected budget cuts will "hit" in July, at the beginning of the 2001-2002 fiscal year. PPASA CEO Motsomi Aubrey Senne said that the budget cuts represent an end to his dreams of providing sexual education to one million South African youths. At a single center in Orange Farm, South Africa, 1,500 youths visit each month to obtain free condoms, speak with sex education counselors, take pregnancy tests and learn about AIDS. Itumeleng Mabato, an 18-year-old peer counselor at the clinic, said she "spends much of her time dispelling myths about sex" during meetings with local teens. For example, some youths believe that "drinking Coca-Cola after sex will protect them from AIDS," or that "having sex just once is not enough to become pregnant." Senne said that reduced funding for PPASA and other South African family planning organizations will "allow such misinformation to spread" and may result in an increase in unintended pregnancies, STDs and the spread of AIDS.
Withstanding the Pressure
Faced with losing a large chunk of funding, some international family planning organizations are choosing to stop abortion-related services and activities. But Senne said that PPASA will maintain these services, noting that "[n]o self-respecting non-governmental organization that I know will bow down to that pressure." Senne added, "We give people choices, and one of those choices is abortion. There are those who don't want to be pregnant, and young people still take risks." PPASA hopes to recover some of the funding losses through donations from private organizations, but if it does not, the organization will be forced to halt a condom distribution program that it planned to fund with U.S. dollars. "Before the United States makes cuts in funding to family planning agencies, 'they should look at the broader impact of what they are doing. You will stop money for abortion, but what else will you stop?'" Senne said (Murphy, Baltimore Sun, 2/28).