The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) has charged the Bush Administration with secretly undermining the effort to fight HIV/AIDS by subjecting US AIDS funding to the Global Gag Rule. Organizations applying for grant funding would be required to agree to the "Mexico City Policy," as the Global Gag Rule is also known, according to revisions to eligibility criteria. According to CHANGE, the restrictions were included in a request for applications for HIV/AIDS work in Kenya, a move meant to attract little attention.
President Bush was forced to exempt US global AIDS funding from the Global Gag Rule in 2003 in the face of public protest, reports CHANGE. In March of that year, over 145 US organizations that work on public health, AIDS, and reproductive health, as well as over 300 parliamentarians, public health workers, and religious leaders sent a letter to Bush, stating that "...we oppose the Mexico City Policy in its current form, and we oppose any expansion of this policy to HIV/AIDS..." An Executive Order was announced in August that excluded US AIDS funds from the gag rule.
The gag rule currently in place bars family planning programs in countries that receive US federal aid from using separate, private monies for abortion counseling, services, and referrals. The Reagan Administration first imposed the Global Gag Rule in 1984. Though President Clinton rescinded the policy for the eight years of his presidency, President Bush issued an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag rule during his first official day in office in January 2001.