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Global Gag Rule in the Crosshairs

Women are dying from preventable causes and the U.S. is contributing to the problem. This was the grave truth repeated at last Wednesday’s Congressional hearing on the Global Gag Rule–the first hearing of its kind in the last decade.

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No Single Prescription for Prevention

Katie Porter is a Legislative Policy Analyst at Population Action International.

As new discoveries in HIV prevention are made, including the use of circumcision and microbicides, the U.S. must have maximum flexibility to spend limited resources in the areas of HIV prevention that are most relevant to country demands. Maximum flexibility? You can almost feel the collective shudder on Capitol Hill. Congress cannot afford to let recipients do as they wish with tax payer dollars; can you blame them? But the alternative—dedicated funding for specific activities—can be dangerous, especially when funding is limited and lives literally lie in the balance.

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WHO Raises Importance of Family Planning

Katie Porter is a Legislative Policy Analyst at Population Action International.

The goal of achieving reproductive health equity for women around the world gained currency last week with the release of a World Health Organization-sponsored report citing unprotected sex as the second leading cause of disability and death in the developing world. What was refreshing for many of us in this field was the bold way in which the WHO called it like it is: "declining financial support, increased political interference and an overall reluctance to tackle threats to sexual and reproductive health" are threatening the very existence of strong family planning programs. That trend must end.

During a recent trip to Ethiopia, I heard time and time again just how difficult integration of family planning and HIV services is in light of funding cuts to family planning programs in many African countries. While U.S. support for HIV/AIDS is at an unprecedented level, our decades-long support for family planning is dangerously low and the repercussions for women, men, and their families are deadly. How much have we truly accomplished in a country where HIV infection is coming down if maternal and infant mortality rates are still high and on the rise?

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