Sen. Clinton Criticizes Bush Administration Policies on HIV Prevention Strategy, Access to Reproductive Health Services
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday criticized the Bush administration for putting too much emphasis on abstinence in the fight against HIV/AIDS and restricting women's access to reproductive health services in developing countries, Reuters reports. Although the Bush administration supports the "ABC" HIV prevention model -- meaning abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- the administration in its work in developing countries emphasizes sexual abstinence rather than condom use, especially among single people, according to Reuters. "ABC is a good strategy, but it has three parts to it, and we need to remind the administration of that," Rodham Clinton, who was speaking in New York City to hundreds of women's rights and health advocates at the annual awards dinner of the International Women's Health Coalition, said. She added, "There are so many [HIV prevention] strategies that we know work, and we are not yet fully committed in our government to implementing those strategies" (Leopold, Reuters, 1/12).
Reproductive Health Services
Rodham Clinton also criticized the Bush administration for its decision to cut funding for international organizations that discuss or provide abortion services, saying that 20 million women worldwide undergo unsafe abortions each year, 68,000 of whom die as a result, the Associated Press reports (Lederer, Associated Press, 1/12). In July 2004, the Bush administration announced it would withhold $34 million in funding for United Nations Population Fund for the third consecutive year, saying that, because the organization works in China, the fund indirectly supports the Chinese government's policy of coerced abortions to maintain its one-child-per-family population policy. The Bush administration bars U.S. funding for international groups that support abortion -- even with their own funding -- through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 12/16/04). In addition, Bush in September 2003 issued an executive order that prevents the Department of State from giving family planning grants to international groups that provide abortion-related counseling, effectively extending the so-called "Mexico City" policy, which previously applied only to USAID. However, Bush's executive order banning funding for international family planning groups that counsel on abortion exempts agencies in countries covered under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/19/04). Clinton said, "I hope we will do more to try to protect against these ill-thought-out policies by this administration" (Associated Press, 1/12).
'Difficult Years Ahead'
Clinton also urged women's rights advocates not to give up, "despite the less-than-friendly atmosphere we currently face in Washington with the current administration" (Reuters, 1/12). She said, "I think we're going to have some very difficult years ahead of us, and I hope that each of you will be committed to advocate on behalf of ... the full range of women's health around the world, with respect even to our own government." She also praised the "women and men who have stood together against the tide of public opinion, against misguided leadership, against cultural practices, habits and traditions and slowly but surely gained ground and held it for girls and women" (Associated Press, 1/12).