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PEPFAR Passes in the Senate … Scott did a great job live blogging the Senate debate on PEPFAR throughout the week and last night he was able to wrap it up as the bill passed 80-16. While there are still many shortcomings in the way the bill will spend $48 billion to prevent and treat victims of HIV and AIDS in Africa perhaps the highlight is an amendment that repeals the 1987 ban on HIV positive immigrants. The ban was put in place in the early days of the virus when lack of information led to fear and stigmatization of HIV positive individuals and a repeal has been long overdue. Physicians for Human Rights also made a positive impact on the bill by lobbying and procuring money to fund 140,000 additional health workers to help in prevention and treatment efforts in understaffed Africa. The most laughable amendment was offered by North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole. Dole proposed renaming the bill to include tribute to the late Senator Jesse Helms. While Helms did change his mind and support funding efforts to battle HIV/AIDS, he was an agressive and even bigoted opponent of HIV/AIDS research and funding for many years. Jake Tapper writes in his Political Punch blog:
"That is bizarre," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., told me this afternoon
when I told him this news. "That is absolutely bizarre. The
Lantos-Hyde-Helms… the idea that anyone would want to do that is
ludicrous…I would try to think of something that would be less
appropriate, but even with my disregard for convention it would be hard
to do that."
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He was not a big fan of the gays, Mr. Helms. Gays were "weak, morally
sick wretches," he said, and in 1988, opposing an AIDS research bill
championed by, among others, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Helms said,
"there is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be
traced in origin to sodomy."
In 1995, Helms told the New York Times
that the government should spend less on trying to combat AIDS because those suffering from the disease got sick as a result of "deliberate,
disgusting, revolting conduct…We’ve got to have some common sense
about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in
Pelosi Speaks Out on Bush Proposal that Would Limit Women’s Access to Birth Control … House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a short statement in opposition to the Bush HHS proposal to redefine some forms of contraception, including birth control pills and IUDs, as abortion effectively limiting access to birth control for low-income women and legally empowering health care providers to refuse to dispense birth control to women:
If the Administration goes through with this draft proposal, it will launch a dangerous assault on women’s health
The majority of Americans oppose this out of touch position that
redefines contraception as abortion and represents a sustained pattern
of the Bush Administration to reject medical and sound science in favor
of a misguided ideology that has no place in our government.
I urge the President to reject this policy and join with Democrats
to focus on preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for
abortion through increasing access to family planning services and
access to affordable birth control.
The Care2 petition network has launched a campaign against the proposal as well. Click on over and sign the petition now!
PETA Wants Birth Control for all Pets … People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has launched a controversial new ad promoting spaying and neutering of all pets. The ad plays off the fabled birds and bees talk and, perhaps in an effort to get some residule benefit toward a growing problem for humans, teen pregnancy, the ad is running in the ten states with the highest teen pregnancy rate.
Shout Out to A Pre-Ab-Only Sex Ed Video … A sex ed video shown to pre-pubescent boys all over America throughout the 70’s isn’t the dusty relic some of today’s teens might expect it to be. In fact it’s a breath of fresh air in the way it deals realistically with the issues boys face as their bodies and desires change throughout puberty.