US Abstinence-Only Funding Policy Ineffective in Latin America and Caribbean

The US government’s abstinence-only funding policy is responsible for a “sweeping, comprehensive attack on sexual rights” in Latin America and the Caribbean, new reports revealed this week. The International Working Group on Sexuality and Social Policy released two reports detailing this problem at the meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission on Population and Development in Puerto Rico. The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report cited the report’s findings that the Bush administration’s policy opposing both abortion and the use of condoms among young people is leaving effective sex education initiatives un-funded, and producing backwards progress in the worldwide efforts to eliminate AIDS.

Despite the proven success of sex education programs in combating the spread of the disease in nations such as Brazil, US dollars are being funneled solely into groups promoting abstinence-only solutions. Although there is no scientific evidence that abstinence programs help reduce the spread of AIDS/HIV, nations in desperate need of US funding are being forced to realign their programs to fit the present administration’s Global Gag Rule. This policy, also known as the “Mexico City” policy, restricts US international family planning funding from going to any agency that counsels women about abortion, lobbies for abortion legalization, or performs abortions, even if they do so with their own separate funds. Thus, although President Bush has promised $15 billion over the next 5 years to fight the spread of AIDS and HIV, one third of these funds will go to abstinence-only programs.

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The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 6/30/04, Orlando Sentinel 6/29/04, Feminist Newswire 5/10/01

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