‘Right-Wing Extremists’ Influenced U.S. Government Withdrawal of Funding From GHC Conference, Daulaire SaysGlobal Health Council President and CEO Nils Daulaire in a speech on Tuesday criticized the Bush administration's withdrawal of support for GHC's "Youth and Health: Generation on the Edge" conference, which included representatives from several reproductive health and AIDS advocacy groups, the Washington Post reports (Connolly, Washington Post, 6/4). HHS over the past few years has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the conference and had planned to contribute $170,000 to this year's conference, which was held last week in Washington, D.C. HHS spokesperson Bill Pierce in April said the administration withdrew funding in April because of concerns that the money would be used for the conference's scheduled "Advocacy Day," during which participants could go to Capitol Hill to lobby congressional offices (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/3). In an "unusually harsh" speech, Daulaire said that the Bush administration's decision to withdraw funding was influenced by a "small clique of right-wing extremists." He added, "It is the politics of health -- more correctly, the exploitation of sensitive global health issues for domestic political purposes -- that has kept" the government away.
Some antiabortion groups and lawmakers have called for HHS to disassociate from GHC because the group's views on abortion and sex education differ from the administration's, the Post reports. American Life League President Judie Brown said that GHC is mistakenly considering reproductive rights as a medical issue, the Post reports. She added, "Pregnancy is a very normal and healthy state for a woman to experience; abortion is totally abnormal," saying that Daulaire is "railing at" abortion-rights opponents because he "wants abortion to be protected and funded by the government." Daulaire said antiabortion advocates' opposition to the conference was not surprising, but he added that "what was surprising -- and deeply disappointing -- was that our government's health policy leaders did not respond [to the abortion-rights opponents' claims] with the truth." He said that the administration "sacrificed the principles of participation and respectful dialogue to spurious allegations." According to Daulaire, "[W]e have a responsibility to stand up and challenge those who hold positions of public trust when they are wrong -- and on this, they are wrong." Pierce said that the administration withdrew conference funding because of the Advocacy Day event and not because of political reasons, the Post reports. However, Daulaire said, "We don't lobby" (Washington Post, 6/4).
Webcasts and transcripts of select sessions of the conference are available online from kaisernetwork.org.