Washington DC – President-Elect Obama will reverse US family-planning and AIDS-prevention strategies that have long linked global funding to anti-abortion and abstinence education, a public-health adviser said.
Under the Bush administration, requirements that health workers emphasize abstinence and monogamy over condom use have set back sexually transmitted disease prevention and family planning globally, said Susan F. Wood, co-chairman of Obama's advisory committee for women's health. On his first day in office in January 2001, President Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy, also known as the global gag rule. It bars US family-planning assistance for organizations that use funding from any other source to provide counseling and referral for abortion, lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country, or perform abortions except in cases of a threat to the woman's life, rape, or incest. On the basis of this policy, Bush halted support for the UNFPA in 2002, saying it supported "coercive" abortion programs in China, which cost the fund more than $200 million in lost funding.
Under President Bush the US has provided more money to fight AIDS than during any other administration, with the focus largely on treatment. Wood says that Obama's policy will be focused on promoting prevention, family-planning services, and strengthening public health. "Obama is committed to looking at all this and changing the policies so that family-planning services – both in the US and the developing world – reflect what works, what helps prevent unintended pregnancy, reduce maternal and infant mortality, prevent the spread of disease," Wood said.
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