International Youth Council Launches Campaign Calling for Increased Funding for International Family Planning, HIV/AIDS
The International Youth Leadership Council, a subgroup of Advocates for Youth, yesterday kicked off its year-long "My Voice Counts" campaign, which aims to raise student awareness of global reproductive health and HIV/AIDS issues. The campaign will feature a petition that calls on lawmakers to increase funding for international family planning and global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment initiatives. The petition specifically urges the "immediate repeal" of the "Mexico City policy," the presidential memorandum issued by President Bush that bars USAID funding from going to international family planning groups that use their own funds to perform or promote abortion. In addition, the petition urges President Bush and Congress to "ensure" that all HIV/AIDS drugs and future vaccines will be "easily accessible" to developing nations at "low cost" and "without unreasonable restrictions from trade and patent laws." The petition will run in more than 30 college newspapers across the country and will be used at numerous events on college and university campuses during the coming year. The petition is available online at http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/myvoicecounts/petition.htm.
Group Gives Bush Failing Marks for Reproductive Record
In conjunction with the launch of the campaign, the International Youth Council also released a report card scoring Bush on his "attention to international family planning and HIV/AIDS." Bush received an "F" grade in the area of international family planning, mainly for his reinstatement of the Mexico City policy. "In President Bush's first 68 days in office, he has already moved our country back 12 years by reinstating the 'global gag rule,'" council member Naina Dhingra said. In addition, Bush received a "D-" for his efforts to combat global HIV/AIDS. Dhingra said that while the council is "glad" that Bush has maintained President Clinton's executive order that excludes sub-Saharan African countries from U.S. trade and patent laws concerning HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals and medical technologies, members feel that he has "failed to articulate a clear and concise policy" on how his administration plans to fight the epidemic. Dhingra added, "His inaction on this important issue shows that he is out of touch with the world. And, equally important, his inaction shows that he is willing to sacrifice the world's greatest resource -- its youth." Bush received lower scores than former President Clinton, who received a "B" for his international family planning record and a "B+" for his efforts at stopping HIV/AIDS. Next year, the council will re-grade the Bush administration and evaluate the 107th Congress on its efforts ( Advocates for Youth release, 3/28). The report card can be viewed at http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/myvoicecounts/reportcard.htm.