January 26, 2009
President Obama on Friday issued an executive order repealing the "Mexico City" Policy, which banned U.S. funding for international health groups that use their own funds to perform abortions, lobby their governments in favor of abortion rights or provide counseling about terminating pregnancies, the Washington Post reports. Obama also said that he would work with Congress to restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund to prevent HIV/AIDS, reduce poverty, and improve health care access for women and children in 154 countries. The Post reports that Obama's decision was praised by women's health advocates, family planning groups and others for allowing USAID to fund programs that offer HIV prevention and care, birth control and medical services (Stein/Shear, Washington Post, 1/24).
According to Reuters, critics of the "Mexico City" Policy say that the restrictions have resulted in large reductions in funding for organizations worldwide that provide family planning services and basic health care. For example, the Center for Reproductive Rights reports that in Ethiopia and Lesotho, some nongovernmental organizations are not able to offer comprehensive and integrated health services to people living with HIV/AIDS (Mason/Charles, Reuters, 1/23).
In a related San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece, Shalini Nataraj of the Global Fund for Women writes of one operation in Ghana that lost funding because it refused to adhere to the "Mexico City" Policy, resulting in an estimated 600,000 people losing access to HIV/AIDS prevention education, counseling and family planning services.
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2009 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.