Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Bush AIDS Initiative, Application of ‘Mexico City’ Policy To Funding
Several editorials and opinion pieces this week have discussed President Bush's proposed AIDS initiative, including his decision to apply the "Mexico City" policy to the funding. Bush in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28 proposed the plan, which includes $10 billion in new money for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs in Africa and the Caribbean (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/26). In a memo to the State Department last week, a senior administartion official outlined the president's decision to apply the Mexico City policy to the distribution of the AIDS funds. 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 on the first day of his presidency -- "bars U.S. money from international groups that support abortion, even with their own money, through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities" (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/3). The following are summaries of the editorials and opinion pieces, listed in alphabetical order by the newspaper's name:
Boston Globe: The Bush administration's decision to apply the Mexico City policy to organizations receiving AIDS funding attaches "antiabortion paranoia to every single dollar, ... force-feed[s] religion to the poor on a global scale," and ignores the fact that "[t]he pandemic has a woman's face," Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, writes in a opinion piece in the Globe. The administration "tried to portray this move as somehow a 'compromise' that merely requires family planning groups to separate their work fighting HIV/AIDS from everything else they do. But the two are inseparable," Kissling states. She says that applying the Mexico City policy would force people living with HIV/AIDS, who can currently avoid stigma by seeking treatment at general family planning clinics, to "either go public or go without assistance." Application of the policy would also force "perennially short-funded nongovernmental groups," which are often "the only health care providers within miles," to set up separate facilities, bookkeeping systems and to double their staff and equipment, which Kissling says "simply will not happen." Kissling concludes by urging Bush to "reconsider this latest assault on women" (Kissling, Boston Globe, 3/4).
Christian Science Monitor: "Without profound and massive changes in culture and behavior," the money and drugs to be provided through Bush's AIDS initiative "will be of limited benefit," Amitai Etzioni, a sociologist and author of the book "The Spirit of the Community," writes in a Monitor opinion piece. The Bush approach to prevention, which relies on a network of medical centers that will provide testing, counseling and medication, "medicaliz[es] prevention" and will not serve "young teenagers, as they develop their sexual habits," Etzioni says, adding that prevention funds aimed at "behavioral modification" should be shifted to "educators, community leaders and faith-based institutions." Etzioni concludes that the United States should "risk unpopularity" and "reiterate that unless people stop unsafe practices, no one can help them" (Etzioni, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4).
Greensboro News & Record: "Less publicized maneuvers" surrounding the president's AIDS initiative "toss cold water on what should be well-earned accolades," a News & Record editorial states. Advocates say that the actual amount of new money earmarked for fighting AIDS included in Bush's proposed 2004 fiscal year budget is "inflated by including millions for other diseases and money for prior unfulfilled promises," which "actually cuts in half what Congress contemplated for 2003," the editorial says. The News & Record also criticizes the administration for insisting on working "unilaterally" instead of the working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; "undercut[ting]" WTO talks about generic drug access; and "clinging to prevention education that preaches abstinence only." The editorial concludes that Bush's domestic and international AIDS programs "must match rhetoric with strong, swift action, or the disease ... will win" (Greensboro News & Record, 3/3).
- Indianapolis Star: "If the Middle East seems volatile today, imagine what an entire continent devastated by AIDS and famine would look like 10 years from now," a Star editorial says. "Slowing the spread" of the disease will "avert far more desperate policy problems down the road in troubled Third World nations," according to the Star. The editorial concludes that Bush's AIDS initiative is a "pre-emptive strike of the best kind that deserves citizens' support" (Indianapolis Star, 3/4).