GAO Report Criticizes Bush Administration's Approach to Global HIV Prevention
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report that strongly criticizes the Bush Administration's focus on promoting abstinence and fidelity as the best methods of preventing HIV infection. The report is a strong rebuke a requirement of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which states that two thirds of funds spent on prevention must focus on promoting abstinence until marriage and fidelity, rather than condom use.
The GAO report highlights the effects of PEPFAR in fifteen countries and found that, while exemptions to the spending requirements on abstinence and fidelity can be granted, those without exemptions face signifcant challenges in responding to local needs. Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance Dr. Paul Zeitz commented that "[t]his report confirms what we have been saying all along…Lives are in the balance, and so we need Congress to step in quickly to fix this policy."
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), who co-authored PEPFAR and contested the requirement for abstinence and fidelity programs, stated, "this report demonstrates the Bush administration’s willingness to make AIDS prevention policy a political plaything in their onngoing effort to appease the radical right. We need a sound public health policy, not political pandering." She also declared her intention to reintroduce an amendment to repeal the harmful requirement.
Media Resources: Global AIDS Alliance press release 4/4/06; GAO report 4/06; Representative Barbara Lee press release 4/4/06
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .