By John-Henry Westen

DAR ES SALAAM, February 18, 2008 ( – The Democrat plan to radically alter the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is threatening the existence of a program valued by leaders in the developing world.  Yesterday, U.S. President George W. Bush was in Tanzania, where that nation’s President lauded PEPFAR, including the abstinence component that is a target of Democrat remodeling.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete lavished praise on the U.S. for PEPFAR, presenting President Bush with a young child and a newborn baby who, he said, owed their lives to the assistance coming from the U.S. 

At home however, Democrats are seeking to gut the program by handing over funds now used for hospitals and direct treatments to international abortion advocacy groups like International Planned Parenthood.  The radical shift to PEPFAR proposed by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-California) will pour billions into the hands of abortion providers and strip provisions that ensure priority funding for the highly effective abstinence and fidelity programs, which have reduced HIV rates in African nations that have implemented it.

The Democrat proposal also strips the provision that forbids grants to groups that do not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking – a provision designed to combat exploitation of women in recipient countries. 

While the two Presidents were taking questions from reporters, President Bush was asked if he would agree to cutting from PEPFAR the funds for abstinence and fidelity programs.

“My attitude toward Congress is, look, see what works,” replied Bush. “PEPFAR is working. It is a balanced program. It is an ABC program: abstinence, be faithful, and condoms. It’s a program that’s been proven effective.”

Even though the question was not addressed to him, President Kikwete spoke up on the matter emphatically.  “Let me just make an appeal: Let PEPFAR continue. This is a passionate appeal from us,” he said.   “There would have been so many orphans to date had it not been for PEPFAR, the care and treatment—so many parents now who have been infected can live.”

The Tanzanian President also referred to adhering to the ABCs.

“So can you imagine if this program is discontinued or disrupted, there would be so many people who lose hope, and certainly there will be death,” he added.  “. You create more orphans . . . So it’s for us, really, for PEPFAR not to continue, it’s a recipe for disaster for us.”

Bush concluded his remarks urging Congress “to listen to leaders on the continent of Africa, find—analyze what works, stop the squabbling and get the program reauthorized.”