Monday, February 17, 2003

Is the Bush administration’s policy on overseas AIDS prevention good or bad for pro-choice groups that provide AIDS services? It’s no surprise if you can’t tell -- even The New York Times doesn’t seem able to make up its mind: On the Times Web site there’s a Times-originated story with the headline “Bush to Allow AIDS Money to Supporters of Abortion” and an AP story headlined “Bush May Deny Some Overseas AIDS Money.”

It’s clear that groups that provide abortions must separate their reproductive services from their AIDS services if they want to receive funding from the Bush administration -- which, if it means that pro-choice organizations can under some circumstances receive some funding, may be a slight improvement over the outright ban on funding that was imposed on these organizations in the early days of the Bush administration.

However, please note the reactions of pro- and anti-choice groups: As the AP story notes, the National Right to Life Committee is pleased by the plan, while Planned Parenthood considers it unworkable.

Surely these people know how the rules will work in practice. If they both agree that this isn’t a victory for the pro-choice side, I think that settles the matter.

That’s why I’m deeply suspicious of the internal State Department that oh-so-conveniently found its way into the AP story -- the one that says moderate and liberal members of Congress will be pleased by the compromise and “Hill conservatives” will be dismayed. Undoubtedly this was spoon-fed to the AP reporter in order to spin the story. I simply don’t buy it.

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