In 2003, Congress passed the President’s Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provides HIV/AIDS drugs and funding to 15 countries plagued by the virus. However, President Bush and the conservative-controlled Congress tacked a restrictive provision to PEPFAR requiring that one-third of prevention funding go to promoting abstinence education.
Last month, the House rejected the policy, passing legislation that would allow Bush and future presidents to waive the abstinence-only provision. In response, Bush threatened a veto, claiming “he would veto any legislation that weakens current policy and laws on abortion.”
In an interview with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux this week, First Lady Laura Bush disagreed with her husband’s right-wing agenda, stating that she believes condoms are “absolutely essential” and supports waiving the abstinence-only provision. Watch it:
While the U.S. spends the most money on AIDS relief, the abstinence-only provision hinders programs that could use more money for treatment.
Furthermore, a Government Accountability Office report in 2006 found that 12 of the 15 “focus-countries” were forced to reduce spending on HIV/AIDS prevention in order to meet the abstinence requirements. Programs backing safe-sex practices subsequently lost necessary funding.
UPDATE: The Center for Health and Gender Equity has more on Laura Bush’s statements.
Transcript: Read more