Editorials, Opinion Piece Focus on Congressional Debate Over AIDS Funding, Debt Relief and ‘Mexico City’ Policy
Two editorials yesterday appealed to their respective senators to act on issues currently being discussed before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee surrounding President Bush's proposed increase in funding to fight global AIDS. Below are summaries of the editorials:
Indianapolis Star: Congress should fund the president's AIDS initiative and relieve the debt of developing nations, a Star editorial says. The editorial praises the efforts of Indiana for Africa, an organization founded after rock star Bono visited Indianapolis on the Heart of America tour to get support for increased AIDS funding. The group has sent petitions, letters and emails to Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar (R), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, where the issue is currently being considered. The editorial concludes that Lugar "must help push the AIDS bill through the Senate" (Indianapolis Star, 3/6).
- Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota Senator and Foreign Relations Committee member Norm Coleman (R) should "resist the move to entangle AIDS funding with abortion policies" and should "lead his colleagues in standing up for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria," a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial says. Both of the Bush administration's "schemes" -- to cut the amount of AIDS money going to the fund and to apply the "infamous 'global gag rule'" to international AIDS money -- are "foolhardy and wasteful, forsaking proven anti-AIDS efforts for unfathomable reasons," the editorial says. The editorial asks, "Why should the U.S. government reinvent the public health wheel when the Global Fund ... is already up and running? Why should it deny funds to successful agencies that have integrated AIDS prevention into their broad health programs? Why is the White House scrimping on AIDS funding after promising to be generous?" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/6).
Provide 'Factual, Non-Judgmental' AIDS Information
Bush "stirred up hopes" worldwide when he announced his plan to provide $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean in January, but it "took less than a month for the other shoe to drop," Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu writes. Basu notes that the administration plans to apply the "Mexico City" policy, which prohibits federal aid from going to groups that fund or discuss abortion. "How does AIDS prevention get tangled in the politics of abortion?" Basu asks, adding that the move "reflects a growing administration bias for abstinence as the answer to everything from pregnancy prevention to welfare reform." Basu says that "evidence of that is all around," stating that the administration "has signaled it doesn't want safe sex discussed on the government's dime" by financing abstinence-only education programs and removing references to condom use from the CDC Web site. Basu writes, "Slowly, an agenda is emerging to inject Puritan morality into public health, welfare and foreign-aid decisions. But at what cost? Decades of work have made inroads toward preventing unplanned pregancies and engaging people at risk by promising factual, non-judgmental help," concluding, "Now the administration seems to be saying, 'Live our way or forget it.' Isn't that the sort of behavior we faulted the Taliban for?" (Basu, Des Moines Register, 3/7).