…by not promoting “family planning services” globally, says a Washington research professor, who also happens to be on President-elect Obama’s advisory committee for women’s health.

Public-health policies of President George W. Bush’s
$45- billion PEPFAR program have brought AIDS drugs to almost 3 million
people in poor countries such as Rwanda and Uganda, more than under any
other president. Still, requirements that health workers emphasize
abstinence from sex and monogamy over condom use have set back sexually
transmitted disease prevention and family planning globally, said Susan
F. Wood, co-chairman of Obama’s advisory committee for women’s health…

Obama “is committed to looking at all this and changing
the policies so that family-planning services — both in the U.S. and
the developing world — reflect what works, what helps prevent
unintended pregnancy, reduce maternal and infant mortality, prevent the
spread of disease,'’ Wood said.

Let’s look at what has been tried in the current administration, and how it has worked.

Under President Bush, the U.S. has provided more money to fight AIDS than during any other administration.

This is a fact that gets no attention in the mainstream media.

Seven years ago, before the Bush program began with
about $15 billion, only about 200,000 people in poor nations got
treatment, and few of them were in Africa.

The emphasis on abstinence and fidelity “has been shown to have
demonstrable success in Africa,'’ said Valerie Huber, executive
director of the National Abstinence Education Association in
Washington. “It would be more than unfortunate if that policy was
changed.'’

If the story is largely ignored, this facet is especially so:

Both Republicans and Democrats have indicated support
for the focus on abstinence and education that goes along with PEPFAR,
which has also been shown to reduce the spread of HIV in countries such
as Uganda, Huber said.

“If the president-elect wants to be science-based in foreign
sex-education policies, it would be wisest to continue this way because
it’s shown to be effective,'’ she said.

This will continue to be distorted by the media, along
with reporting on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, among
other issues.

Take this issue,
the goodwill for the historic election of Barack Obama and deep
satisfaction that the nation has finally reached this monumental
turning point…from the pro-life, conservative movement. You have to
hear the personal expressions of profound joy and regret,
simultaneously. (Sort of like Dickens: It was the best of time, it was
the worst of times…). From the editor of the National Catholic Register:

Rebecca Teti at FaithandFamilyLIVE.com…shares her high
emotion after Nov. 4 as a white woman who grew up in a black
neighborhood in D.C. Her heart is elated and pierced by the Obama win,
both at once.

“Is it a great thing, a cathartic thing, a potentially healing thing
for the country and for all of our people that we just elected our
first African-American President?” she writes…. 

“It’s bittersweet in the extreme, however, that the man who embodies
the triumph of our founding principle ‘all men are created equal’ with
respect to black persons should be so unwilling to extend to the unborn
the same right to be included in the family of men. It shows he doesn’t
know the meaning of his own triumph, and it’s a blot on his achievement
much as the institution of slavery was a blot on the American founding.

See, this is what I don’t get. Because it seems so clear. 

“For one class of persons, [the election] was a
resounding triumph. For another, it must be acknowledged, it was a
dismal defeat. Voters in Michigan amended their Constitution to permit
creating embryos for the sake of experimenting on them. An effort to
ban abortion in all but the hardest cases fell in South Dakota.

“There will be no pro-life woman in the new Senate.

“And the first black President will, if he keeps his promises, be
also the most hostile to the inalienable rights of the unborn of anyone
ever elected to the highest office in our land. He who epitomizes the
rights of the descendants of slaves will work to further disenfranchise
this nation’s unborn. He of all people should know better. He breaks my
heart.”

She ends the piece with a note of hope:

“I pray for President-Elect Obama. I wish him well because the
weight of the world is on his shoulders and because I wish my country
well.

I join my voice to this sentiment.

“You know, it is the year of St. Paul. Is it too much to hope for another dramatic conversion? Change can happen.”

I sincerely believe that.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....