Roundup: A Win for Missouri Midwives, Will PEPFAR Be Bush’s Legacy?

Brady Swenson

Midwives can now legally practice in Missouri, Could PEPFAR really be Bush's legacy?, Prospects of a domestic gag rule, Is James Dobson pushing voters to Obama?

Missouri Midwives Free to Provide Birthing Care, For Now … Missouri midwives, who for decades risked prison time to deliver
babies in their clients’ homes, can now do their work openly and
without fear of prosecution
. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday
reversed a lower court ruling and upheld a 2007 law allowing midwifery
in the state. Missouri was one of about 10 states that didn’t allow the
practice unless the midwives were certified nurse-midwives — registered
nurses who worked with a doctor. The midwifery provision in the 2007 health insurance bill went basically unnoticed by those opposed to it until after it was signed into law by Gov. Matt Blunt. When doctors became aware of the provision in the bill, they organized and sued saying that doctors could be held legally liable for working with midwives who lack professional licences. The court ruled that the doctor’s groups lacked the legal standing to sue and thus the court could not evaluate the case based on the facts. This leaves the law vulnerable to another trial if doctors can find a way to organize and sue with proper legal standing.

Could PEPFAR Really Be Bush’s Legacy? … The Utne Reader is asking if Geroge W. Bush will be remembered by history as "The AIDS President" because of his role in instating the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, the multi-billion dollar effort to curb the AIDS pandemic:

We are anxious to confer upon George W. Bush a legacy. It’s no easy
task—world peace is off the table, of course—and the media are still
scrambling to single one out. No one wants to believe that the past
eight years have been entirely destructive, but come on: Are we really
going to let this president, champion of abstinence-only sex education,
claim HIV/AIDS work as his legacy?

The entire article is a great look into why PEPFAR is not, at least in its current incarnation as envisioned mostly by Bush and his Religious Right cohorts, the kind of great policy worthy of being the crown jewel in a president’s legacy. Though, considering the demerits of this president, perhaps any attempt at solving the worst public health crises of this generation, however flawed, would automatically qualify for lack of competition. So, you should read the entire piece, but I’d like to highlight for you this section in which an Rewire article on PEPFAR’s impact in Zambia written by William Smith is cited:

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Congress is looking into reauthorizing PEPFAR, which will present an
opportunity to address some of the problems. Currently, one-third of
the funds marked for prevention must go toward promoting abstinence
until marriage; PEPFAR grantees must sign a pledge stating that they
oppose prostitution; and PEPFAR dollars cannot be used to run needle
exchange programs, even in areas where needles are the primary method
of HIV transmission.

These stipulations make evaluating PEPFAR “a moral conundrum,” writes Michelle Goldberg for the American Prospect
online (July 10, 2007). “How do you weigh lives saved by treatment
against lives lost through policies that sabotage prevention?”

And make no mistake, lives will
be lost, considering who is left out of PEPFAR’s prevention equation.
The “prostitution pledge” ensures that some organizations will opt
against working with prostitutes in order to up their chances of
snagging PEPFAR funding. In Zambia, writes William Smith for the Rewire
blog (March 11, 2008), the prostitution pledge is interpreted “as an
explicit direction from the U.S. government that prevention with sex
workers is a risky business if you want grant money.” In the truck-stop
town of Kafue, where impoverished women and girls sell sex to drivers
passing through on one of Zambia’s major highways, there’s only one
group handing out condoms—and it’s not PEPFAR-funded.

Be On the Lookout for the Domestic Gag Rule … The far right is still all about the abstinence despite the hypocrisy and the mountain of evidence standing in strong opposition to the policy.  Women’s eNews reports that  the Bush administration continues to mumble about applying PEPFAR’s Global Gag Rule, which denies funding to any health clinic that talks about or provides contraception and other family planning services, to clinics in the United States.  

Petitioners appear to be taking this step now so Bush can take the political
heat for instating a domestic gag rule, leaving a would-be President John McCain
in the clear on this issue.

Has James Dobson Become a Political Liability? … Frank Schaeffer, author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take
All (Or Almost All) Of It Back
, argues that James Dobson’s time in the political sun is over and his tired, hateful attacks on Barack Obama will have the unwanted effect of driving more voters to the Illinois Senator.

Nevertheless Dobson has — for eight years — been George
W. Bush
‘s personal shill. In return Dobson has had ego-stoking "access"
to the White House, or rather to the lackeys in the White House laughing at him
but charged with stroking Dobson and the other pompous asses masquerading as
religious leaders.

But the new generation of evangelicals is sick of being labeled as backward
rednecks because of their association with fossils like Dobson. There are many
evangelicals like Cizik too who are not all about homophobia, nationalism,
war-without-end and American
or the Republican Party. Like Cizik they believe that the
America has a responsibility to do something about global warming, poverty,
AIDS, human trafficking and other issues. They see through Dobson and the other
so-called pro-life leaders, who have actually done nothing to reduce abortion.
In fact Dobson has increased abortions because of his "abstinence only" crusade.

It is encouraging to read Schaeffer’s words and dream of a working majority on reproductive health and justice issues that could make huge strides in reducing reasons to choose abortion with solid social support programs that make raising a child easier for a single parent, with comprehensive sex education for our teenagers, and with cheap, high quality, easily-accessed family planning services for all Americans.   There is middle ground on this issue and Schaeffer is at the vanguard of a movement to the middle from the far right, only time will tell how massive that movement is.  

Grand Rapids Considers Rejecting Abstinence-only Funding … The Grand Rapids Press reports that "Grand Rapids educators would be part of a national trend moving away
from ‘abstinence-only’ sex education programs if the school board
adopts a proposal to add high school lessons about contraceptives."



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