Archbishop Tutu Calls on Senate to Pass PEPFAR The heat is rising on Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn to relenquish efforts to block the passage of PEPFAR reauthorization. Kaiser Netowrk reports that South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the Senate to make "God’s world a better place" and to speed the passage of the legislation.
PEPFAR has "already saved millions of lives, and the new legislation has the
potential for sustaining a response to build on all of the gains that have
already been achieved," Tutu said. He added, "I plead to the leaders, the
members of Congress — please, please, for the sake of the world, for the sake
of the future, expedite the passing of the relevant legislation."
Senator Coburn and six other Senators are blocking the legislation from passage in the Foreign Relations Committee and have, so far, refused to compromise their hardline stance on forcing 55% of the bill’s $50 billion in funding to go toward treatment, including antiretroviral drugs, at the expense of funding much needed prevention efforts at family planning clinics.
Should We Concede Defeat in Quest for an HIV Vaccine? Udo Schuklenk, professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, asks the question in today’s Globe and Mail that some in the field are starting to answer in the affirmative.
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Proponents of the defeatist stance, including Homayoon Khanlou and Michael
Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest provider of HIV-AIDS
medical care in the United States, argue that instead of continuing to squander
hundreds of millions of dollars on a futile vaccine quest, the focus should
shift to spending on prevention, testing and treatment.
Schuklenk points out that for every person being treated in the developing world five new people are infected. This, he says, is a numbers game we cannot win with prevention efforts alone, a vaccine might be the only way we can get the pandemic under control. The search for a miracle cure, though, has been long and mostly fruitless with more than 150 recent prevention trials including vaccines and microbicides failing to protect participants against infection. Schuklenk offers that Winston Churchill’s remark, "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never…" seems to be the only response to the question of giving up in the age of AIDS.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm Vetoes Abortion Ban Gov. Granholm vetoed a measure that would outlaw certain late-term abortions in accordance with a 2007 Supreme Court ruling
that upheld the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act despite its lack of a
provision allowing the procedure in cases necessary to preserve the
health of the mother.
"I will not support a late-term abortion ban that fails to protect
both the life and health of mothers," Granholm said in a statement to
Senate leaders. "Medical professionals oppose this legislation because
it does not contain valid exception for the health of the mother. They
believe that medical decisions of this nature should be made by women
and their doctors, not politicians. I agree."
The house bill states explicitly that "partial-birth abortions are
never medically necessary to preserve the mother’s health and the
procedure confuses medical, legal and ethical duties for physicians who
have the responsibility to preserve and promote life." The bill passed
with nearly a 2-1 margins in the Senate and better than 2-1 in the
House. The governor vetoed the Senate version of the bill and now
House members will likely send their version of the bill to the
governor with the knowledge that there are enough votes to override a