In a provocative essay published today, as a "sneak peak" of the October launch issue of PLoS Medicine (http://www.plosmedicine.org), the new open access global health journal from the Public Library of Science, Dr El Feki argues that since the Cairo Conference, "a fierce battle has emerged between religious conservatives who eschew abortion and condoms in favour of abstinence and fidelity, and more liberal voices who argue for a full armamentarium."
The fight between conservatives and liberals is clearest, she argues, in the case of the US. Although it spends more than any other country on reproductive health--$429 million this year--the money comes with strings attached. For example, under the Mexico City Policy (the "Global Gag Rule"), which George W. Bush reinstated in 2001, US family planning assistance cannot be given to any non-American non-governmental group unless it certifies that it neither performs nor endorses abortion. "International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International and their local affiliates have been hard hit by the Rule," says Dr El Feki, "scaling back services in Kenya, Ghana and elsewhere offering essential health-care to thousands of women and children."
These ideological battles are compounded by rich countries neglecting the commitments they made at the Cairo conference. "Rich country contributions reached an estimated $2.3 bi
Contact: Gavin Yamey
Public Library of Science