April 29, 2003


Bush pushes global AIDS bill (Kathy A. Gambrell, 4/29/2003, UPI)
President George W. Bush on Tuesday unveiled an initiative intended to pump another $15 billion in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, as he fielded criticism that legislation did not focus enough on abstinence as a solution to the pandemic.

"Fighting AIDS on a global scale is a massive and complicated undertaking, yet this cause is rooted in the simplest of moral duties. When we see this kind of preventable suffering, when we see a plague leaving graves and orphans across a continent, we must act, " Bush said.

The president appeared in the East Room of the White House with lawmakers and global AIDS activists to promote the bill providing $15 billion to the global fund established to fight the deadly disease that has infected 42 million people worldwide.

The World Health Organization reports of that number 38.6 million were adults, and 2.3 million were children under age 15. Some 3.1 million people worldwide died of AIDS in 2002.

In sub-Saharan Africa, some 28.5 million adults are infected and 2.6 million children under age 15. The pandemic has captured the attention of the international community as it figures out how best to stop the spread of AIDS on the continent.

The president warned "time is not on our side" and urged Congress to move forward "with speed and seriousness his crisis requires."

Bush said the administration's health experts believe the emergency plan for AIDS relief could prevent 7 million new HIV infections and treat 2 million people with life-extending drugs. [...]

Social conservatives and some congressional Republicans criticized the bill for not including more pro-family amendments that would promote programs that teach
abstinence and fidelity rather than only condom use. [...]

Michael Schwartz, vice president for government relations for Concerned Women for America, said the bill provides no conscious protections for faith-based groups. Schwartz told UPI that groups seeking to teach abstinence would have to also pass out condoms even if it were against their mission.

"We are quite sure that Congress must clearly outline the president's purpose within the bill. Without a clear mandate, future administrations will be able to use AIDS prevention dollars for ineffective condom based programs, rather than lifesaving ones based on abstinence and faithfulness," Schwartz said.

We're as pro-abstinence as anybody, but this is disturbing. They know that the Bush administration will write the regulations so as to meet their vision of the programs, but they're willing to hold up the money in order to make a likely futile attempt to tie the hands of some imaginary future Democratic administration? How many extra Africans should die so that these groups can vindicate such an impractical position? Posted by Orrin Judd at April 29, 2003 7:43 PM
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