Bush Administration Should Not Extend ‘Mexico City’ Policy To AIDS Funding, Washington Post Editorial Says
If the Bush administration extends the so-called "Mexico City" policy to HIV/AIDS funding under its five-year, $15 billion global HIV/AIDS initiative, the HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention work in poor countries that "the president so admirably promised to boost would be greatly hampered," according to a Washington Post editorial (Washington Post, 2/23). The policy -- which was originally implemented by President Reagan at a population conference in Mexico City in 1984, removed by President Clinton and reinstated by Bush just days into his presidency -- "bars U.S. money from international groups that support abortion, even with their own money, through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities." Under the new policy, outlined by a senior Bush administration official in a memo to the State Department, social services groups that deal with abortion services would have to "administer AIDS programs separately from family planning" in order to receive funds from the administration's new AIDS program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/18). Administration officials have said that they might provide funding to "integrated clinics that won't abide by the Mexico City policy" and request or require them to send HIV/AIDS patients to seek family planning advice "elsewhere," the editorial states. But this proposal is "unrealistic" because there "often is no 'elsewhere,'" according to the Post. The editorial notes that in many places, "[r]esources are scarce, and field workers say people feel less stigma about going to a general health clinic than a stand-alone HIV/AIDS clinic." The editorial concludes that although Bush's call to increase U.S. support in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean is a "breakthrough," he "should not risk eroding that progress" by extending the Mexico City policy (Washington Post, 2/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.