The Bush administration is withdrawing financial support from the Global Health Council's "Youth and Health: Generation on the Edge Conference" because several of the groups involved in the event oppose the president's political positions on abortion and abstinence education, The Washington Times reports. GHC has received conference funding for the past 30 years and was expected to receive grants from USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Health Resources and Services Administration for this year's gathering, which will be held June 1-4 in Washington, D.C. The conference will be attended by representatives from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, all of which oppose Bush's focus on promoting abstinence over condom usage to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Conference organizers also had invited representatives of MoveOn.org, a group that is highly critical of Bush, to discuss the use of technology in grassroots organizing, but the organization declined the invitation.
The decision to pull about $190,000 in funding for the conference was made after conservative lawmakers expressed concerns about the use of taxpayer money for the event. Conservative, antigay groups Concerned Women for America and the Traditional Values Coalition also lobbied for funding to be pulled. An unnamed White House staff member told the Times the funding was pulled because "the conference has increasingly moved from a teaching forum to a platform for expressing partisan political views." Opponents also say the event focuses too much on lobbying efforts, including an "advocacy day," during which attendees visit members of Congress to discuss reproductive health and AIDS issues. But organizers of the conference say the conference strives to achieve balance in every session presented and draws participants from conservative and religious groups, including the Catholic Medical Mission Board. "As a matter of principle, whenever and wherever there have been differences on views on a particular subject area, our conference organizers have made every effort to ensure that a full range of technical viewpoints are included," said GHC president Nils Daulaire in a press release.