Newspapers Respond to PEPFAR Reauthorization Legislation
Las Vegas Sun: "It is rare to find President Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress on the same page, especially in an election year," which is why it is "refreshing" that both sides "have agreed to join forces in the battle against the spread of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa," a Sun editorial says. According to the Sun, "Our hope now is that the rest of the world takes America's generosity to heart and steps up funding to help eradicate diseases that have claimed the lives of tens of millions of Africans. As humanitarian efforts go, this should top the list" (Las Vegas Sun, 7/21).
Oklahoman: Bush "deserves credit for a visionary idea, one where the wealth of America could be brought to bear on a global crisis," an Oklahoman editorial says. The editorial adds, "That the program has avoided many of the problems usually associated with big-government initiatives is a bonus and another reason to believe taxpayer dollars can make a difference across the world" (Oklahoman, 7/21).
Seattle Times: "Cool heads prevailed in the U.S. Senate" and put the reauthorization of PEPFAR "back on track," a Times editorial says. PEPFAR "offers the strongest and most compassionate response of developed nations to the battle against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis," the editorial says, adding that it "also represents bipartisanship at its best." According to the editorial, although the legislation "spent months tied up in ideological wrangling," two "key portions" of the bill "survived," including the end of restrictions on HIV-positive visitors to the U.S. and an initiative to hire and train 140,000 new health care professionals (Seattle Times, 7/18).
Washington Times: Although PEPFAR is a "good human-rights program that attempts to protect innocent life," the "Senate-passed bill constitutes good intentions gone haywire" -- including excessive spending, lifting of HIV travel restrictions and potentially allowing funds directed at wealthier countries like China, India and Russia -- a Times editorial says. The editorial claims that U.S. funding for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could end up going for "coercive sterilizations and abortion" through Global Fund grants the Times says have been given to the Chinese organization that implements that country's one-child policy (Washington Times, 7/21).
Letters to the Editor
- Christoph Benn, Washington Times: A recent Times editorial about the PEPFAR legislation "wrongly accuse[d] the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria of paying for 'coercive sterilizations and abortion,'" Benn, director of external relations for the Global Fund, writes in a Times letter to the editor. The Global Fund "does not support any activities that are not designed to contribute to the reduction of the three diseases, ... and such activities have never been financed through any Global Fund grants," Benn writes. He adds that audits conducted by the Global Fund, as well as biannual audits by the Government Accountability Office, "have never reported any links between the Global Fund and abortion or coercive sterilization services" (Benn, Washington Times, 7/18).
- David Bryden, Washington Times: The Times editorial "makes it sound as if large amounts of funding will flow to China as a result" of the PEPFAR reauthorization measure, Bryden, communications director for the Global AIDS Alliance, writes, adding that less than 1% of U.S. annual AIDS funding is used in China and that "none of this funding will be used ... for 'coercive sterilizations and abortions.'" PEPFAR funding "is a small price to pay for programs that will save millions of lives and foster good will around the world," according to Bryden (Bryden, Washington Times, 7/21).