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World Community Speaks out against the Global Gag Rule

March 14, 2003

More than 275 public health advocates from throughout the world oppose Bush administration plan to deny family planning organizations global HIV/AIDS assistance

Today, more than 275 leading parliamentarians, public health practitioners, and religious leaders from every region of the world sent a letter to President George W. Bush opposing the expansion of the global gag rule (a.k.a. “Mexico City” policy) to global HIV/AIDS funding. “Rather than saving lives, this policy will have the opposite effect: consigning untold numbers of women and girls to infection, suffering and premature death that could otherwise have been prevented,” said the letter.

Those signing include HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, family planning, reproductive health, refugee, and development experts as well as members of parliament, faith-based organizations, university researchers, medical professionals, and people living with HIV/AIDS. They live and work in more than 75 countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, where AIDS has taken the greatest toll to date and where President Bush plans to focus his Emergency Initiative to Fight AIDS.

According to the letter, women now represent half of those infected with HIV worldwide and are the most at-risk group for contracting HIV. The Bush proposal would undermine integrated sexual and reproductive health services that offer HIV prevention information and skills training to women at risk. “Without these programs the epidemic we know today would be far worse.”