A report released Wednesday by Population Action International, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Ipas says that the policy backed by the Bush administration preventing foreign organizations from receiving U.S. funding if they offer abortion services or counseling is hurting HIV prevention efforts carried out by those same groups. The "Mexico City policy," named that because it was first implemented by President Reagan in 1984 after a population conference in Mexico City, prevents any U.S. money from going to an overseas group if it offers abortion services, even if the services are funded separately and offered in a separate location from other organization programs. The report, titled "Access Denied: U.S. Restrictions on International Family Planning," surveyed clinics in Ethiopia, Kenya, Romania, and Zambia and discovered that because of the Administration's policy, health services have been scaled back in those countries and some reproductive health clinics have been forced to close. As a result, many men and women in those countries do not have access to contraceptives, including condoms, or HIV prevention information.
The Mexico City policy is "taking a toll on the lives and health of women, children, and families around the world," the report says. PPFA president Gloria Feldt said, "This is the real face of Bush's compassionate conservatism--a war on the world's most vulnerable women and children, who bear the brunt of Bush's obsession with appeasing his domestic political base."
Bush last month issued an executive order that extends the policy to cover all grants issued by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. However, Bush's order exempts agencies in Africa and the Caribbean that are targeted by his five-year, $15 billion international AIDS initiative.