U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Pathfinder International and Fellow Co-Plaintiffs in USAID v AOSI
This morning, June 20th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in USAID v AOSI, making a strong and resounding decision in favor of Pathfinder International and our fellow co-plaintiffs: Alliance for Open Society International, Inc., InterAction, and the Global Health Council.
Pathfinder has pursued the case—which challenges a 2003 law requiring all groups receiving U.S. Government funds for international HIV and AIDS work to have “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution”—for more than seven years.
"I could not be prouder than I am today to lead an organization which has stood firm in our dedication to identifying and delivering the most effective solutions to those who need sexual and reproductive health services." -Purnima Mane
As we have shared in the past, this policy, if enforced, would have restricted Pathfinder’s right to free speech. It also would have greatly limited our ability to engage with key affected populations, including sex workers, in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We are pleased that the Court’s ruling upheld not only the constitutional right to free speech, but also that it definitively protects intellectual debate and differences of opinion for the wide range of organizations who partner with the US Government.
In an opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court held that the U.S. Government’s policy violates the First Amendment by “compelling as a condition of federal funding the affirmation of a belief that by its nature cannot be confined within the scope of the government program.”
Pathfinder's President and CEO Purnima Mane said, "I could not be prouder than I am today to lead an organization which has stood firm in our dedication to identifying and delivering the most effective solutions to those who need sexual and reproductive health services the most and are the first to be denied access.”
“While we agree that the government can say how it wants its money spent, this requirement went far beyond that by shutting down research and debate on important topics. We are heartened by the decision and we are ready to continue our partnership with the U.S. Government to save lives, including the most vulnerable,” said Jonathan Rucks, Pathfinder International's Director of Advocacy.
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Purnima Mane, president and chief executive officer of Pathfinder International, told IPS, “We are delighted the final set of [proposed] SDGs contains four critical targets on SRHR: three under the health goal and one under the gender goal. But we have not reached the finish line yet. We must all continue to raise our voices to ensure these SRHR targets are intact when the final version is approved."
A video provides a snapshot of Pathfinder International’s Health of People and Environment in Lake Victoria Basin project, an integrated population, health, and environment project supported by MacArthur. The project aims to reduce threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem degradation in the Lake Victoria Basin while increasing access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health services.