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NGOs Await U.S. Supreme Court Ruling On Anti-Prostitution Pledge

“Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are anxiously waiting for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments last week challenging a 2003 law that bars funding for groups working on HIV/AIDS prevention that do not have anti-prostitution policies,” The Lancet reports. “A range of groups including faith-based and conservative organizations say the government’s policy is an unconstitutional infringement of free speech while NGOs say in particular that their overseas health work with sex workers will be limited,” while “other groups, such as the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, say sex work cannot be separated from efforts to fight public health problems, including the spread of HIV/AIDS,” the journal writes. “The Obama administration has argued in court papers that there is no First Amendment violation because groups ‘have been given a voluntary choice’ of whether to participate and Congress had ‘wide latitude to attach conditions to the receipt of federal funds,’” the journal notes, adding the court is expected to decide the case before the end of June. The Lancet includes comments from several NGO representatives and describes two briefs filed with the court against the policy (Devi, 5/4).