The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


D.C.’s big condom giveaway gets bigger

posted by jmcgee

How is the District of Columbia spending its taxpayers’ money?

On better, bigger condoms:

PH2010052005323.jpgHigh school students and college-age adults have been complaining to District officials that the free condoms the city has been offering are not of good enough quality and are too small and that getting them from school nurses is “just like asking grandma or auntie.”

So D.C. officials have decided to stock up on Trojan condoms, including the company’s super-size Magnum variety, and they have begun to authorize teachers or counselors, preferably male, to distribute condoms to students if the teachers complete a 30-minute online training course called “WrapMC” — for Master of Condoms.

“If people get what they don’t want, they are just going to trash them,” said T. Squalls, 30, who attends the University of the District of Columbia. “So why not spend a few extra dollars and get what people want?”

Health officials and consumer advocates say that in terms of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, there’s no difference between Trojans and the less-expensive Durex condoms that the city is offering.

But because Trojans are considered the better-known brand, city officials say, they are willing to spend an extra few thousand dollars a year to try to persuade sexually active teenagers to practice safer sex. The Durex condoms will still be offered.

“We thought making condoms available was a good thing, but we never asked the kids what they wanted,” said D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the health committee.

The mind boggles. You can read more at the link.

And grateful H/T to a new bioethics blog Ethika Politika.
 



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Paul

posted May 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm


Reason #452 why Congress needs to take over the District.



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kenneth

posted May 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm


In terms of basic effectiveness, a condom is a condom. However, some are better than others, and they only do their job of disease and pregnancy prevention if they’re used, not if they’re sitting on a dresser or in the bottom of a pocket. If you’re going to have a program like this, you might as well have an effective one. Otherwise you just have a makework job for some government people. Condoms are the next best thing to abstinence in terms of effectiveness, and anyone who thinks they’re going to get most young men to abstain is delusional. Does anyone really believe a young guy is going to “save himself for marriage” when the typical marriage age is 12-14 years after adolescence?



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Gerard Nadal

posted May 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm


Deacon Greg,
I’m saying this as a Ph.D. Microbiologist: Condoms according to CDC and Planned Parenthood’s own contraceptive bible do not work very well at all.
I wrote an article loaded with CDC and PP data:
http://gerardnadal.com/2010/02/09/planned-parenthood-in-new-initiative-targets-10-year-old-children-with-condoms-that-dont-work/



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Andrew Haines

posted May 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm


Kenneth,
Your comment betrays some severely deficient logic on three counts. First, making the status quo as effective as possible is hardly a sufficient reason for keeping it around. Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen were highly organized; as long as the program was enacted, it might as well have been effective, right?
Second, that “condoms are the next best thing to abstinence” is hardly a compelling reason to promote their use. Lying (with good intentions) is the next best thing to telling the truth; should we advocate it? Indeed, even if your claim holds, one degree of separation is enough inculpate an action.
Third, and most importantly, your inquiry of whether or not we “really believe a young guy is going to ‘save himself for marriage'” hits the nail on the head: publicly funded condoms do nothing to encourage abstinence; and it has now become laughable to think that a young man could wait until marriage to have sex. So, instead of advocating the value of a chaste lifestyle (which, if adopted, extinguishes the need for publicly funded contraceptives), we should simply pour further “delusion” into the mix, and pander to the utilitarian worldview that as long as we’re going to have promiscuity, we should foster the greatest possible good in the aggregate?
Try again.



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kenneth

posted May 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm


Why then should we provide seat belts in cars? After all, if people always did what they were supposed to, we wouldn’t have any crashes. Putting in restraints only encourages reckless behavior and if people are going to do stupid things, they should suffer the consequences….



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pagansister

posted May 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm


If one kid using one condom at the time it is intended to be used, saves 2 kids from an STD or pregnancy….then it is worth it to be giving them out to the kids who ask. More power to the DC folks. They are facing reality. Grownups can talk until they are blue in the face, teach all about NOT having sex until marriage is best and preaching warnings about disease, unwanted pregnancies, and the consequences, but if the hormones take over, at least have a condom ready. And the excuse that givng them out encourages kids to have sex is so ridiculous. The kids who are going to have sex are going to, with or without protection, and the kids who aren’t going to have sex, won’t start just because a condom is available.



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TMG

posted May 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm


Kenneth,
Seat belts are necessary because accidents are often beyond the control of a car’s driver and passenger. Condom’s are only “necessary” because a boy and girl decide to have sex. Decision and control are the difference.
If young men and women are expected to control their emotion of hate, they should be expected to control their emotions of lust.
TMG



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Panthera

posted May 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm


Are there any properly conducted studies showing the effectiveness of abstinence only programs (or doing nothing at all) in actually:
– getting young men to ‘save themselves’ for marriage?
– reducing the incidence of abortion?
– lowering the spread of STDs, especially Aids?
Gerald, there are a number of valid studies which do not agree with your interpretation of the data. Might it be that you are not, perhaps, slightly biased here by the Church’s positions on these matters?



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Andrew Haines

posted May 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm


TMG, kudos.
Panthera,
Let’s not forget that since the advent of the DC public condom program, according to the 2008 Epidemiology Annual Report, HIV rates in the District have climbed 22%. (http://cfmpl.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/district-of-columbia-let-them-have-condoms/) Apparently, the program is not effective.
Either way, the “effect” is not at stake; rather, the principle we must consider is whether or not a government initiative to distribute condoms is in accord with the common good—something not tantamount to “effectivity.” Just see my argument against Kenneth, above: effective (in whatever manner) doesn’t necessarily equal beneficial. And there’s a lot more at stake here than simply reducing the spread of STDs.



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Gerard Nadal

posted May 31, 2010 at 8:17 am


Panthera,
It is simply beyond me that the data I linked to above do not scream to all the world that the condom failure rate, 15% by Planned Parenthood’s rosiest estimates, brings with it the escalated probability with continued use, of catastrophic failure for HIV transmission. The condoms, according to CDC’s own fact sheet have little to no protective effect at all against HPV and Herpes. The data in those links speak for themselves.
You say that there are a number of valid studies which do not agree with my “interpretation” of the data.
My article does not interpret the data. My article quotes CDC’s own “fact sheet” on the male latex condom.
My article quotes Planned Parenthood’s own contraceptive bible and simply extrapolates over a ten year period what condom users can expect-which is sound epidemiological practice.
My article puts up the CDC’s own graphs on the rise in STD’s.
There is no interpretation on my part Panthera. It’s simply taking all of the CDC data, PP’s contraceptive bible and putting them all in the same room. I read every study I can lay my hands on, as this is my field of expertise. So many studies are fatally flawed, but get published anyway. Many suffer from bad methods, poor sample size, lack of appropriate controls, etc,
The article I wrote and linked above suffers from none of that, as it is a presentation of CDC’s own data from mandatory reporting of STD’s. If anything, the numbers may be somewhat lower than in reality, considering how many people do not seek treatment for frank symptoms, and those who carry silent infections such as chlamydia, HPV and Herpes.
Handing teens a fistful of condoms is a cynical act of abandonment. Those of us who have gone through college, graduate school, military, technical school, etc… know well that self-control, self-mastery are the indispensable qualities of maturation and success. Add to that a healthy respect for the consequences of one’s behavior.
Condoms are promoted under the guise and language of “protection”. Protection necessarily implies a threat, and threats are to be eliminated. The threats that condoms are marketed to protect one from are not simply STD’s, but also pregnancy. Having established pregnancy, which is to say the baby itself as well as the reality of motherhood/fatherhood, as a threat, we have taken a long walk down the road toward abortion when the condoms, which have an actual ‘field use’ failure rate in teens of ~65%, fail.
Thus we signal to our young that motherhood/fatherhood, the baby, responsibility are all threats to be avoided. We teach them the language and behavior of narcissism. We teach them to curb impulse control and pander to their desires, disordering those desires and their proper contextual expression. We make a mockery of the language of conjugal love between spouses.
We strike at the very heart of civilization itself, which is expressed in microcosm at the level of family, which is established by openness to life, consecrated by fidelity, and maintained by continence arising from the mastery of one’s self and one’s desires.
We don’t get to that level of maturity with couples sailing into marriage using condoms as the sails.
Government, which ought to be the promoter of such civic virtue, has sought to underwrite this corruption. No civilization can endure when its own government becomes a coauthor in the destruction of its civic virtues.



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judi

posted May 31, 2010 at 9:58 am


Thank you, Gerald! I couldn’t have said it better. Perhaps it should be considered that those who think handing out condoms is a solution is in reality simply easing their own conscience and taking the easy way out. It is much harder and time consuming to teach self discipline, self control and the development of good character than it is to simply hand out a handful of condoms. And yes, I do believe it does encourage the very immature to go ahead and experiment when perhaps they would have given their actions a second thought. What we need to invest is more time in teaching rather than money for condoms.



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Panthera

posted May 31, 2010 at 11:04 am


Gerard,
I’ll have to get back to you in a bit. Your argumentation is based on extrapolations which I do not agree with. It just takes more time than I have right now to properly present.
Judi and Andrew Haines, you are not presenting facts – at best you are taking co-incidental events and interpreting them to be causal.
I posed my three questions somewhat provocatively – every single independent study has shown that abstinence only policies, restricted access to contraception and ‘you’re going to Hell!’ binary approaches have failed utterly in reducing unwanted pregnancy and STDs.
And that is the greatest problems in this debate. There are no satisfactory, binary solutions.
Part of the problem is, of course, that conservative Christians lump abortion, random sexual ‘hook-ups’ (straight or gay) and my 27 year monogamous, faithful, true and loving partnership into the same exact category. This, alone, makes any approach to resolving our inner-city problems impossible.
A second point is the implicit racism.



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Megan

posted May 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm


I have said many times regarding things like this that, as a teenager, I am so saddened and offended at the assumption by adults that I am unable to control myself and people should just give up on me (and other teenagers) ever doing the right thing. I wish people would expect more of us.



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Conservative

posted May 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm


Megan,
Amen to you. Yes adults expect more of you than the promiscuity described here and some know you are capable of great things. Congratulations on your maturity and good morals.
This discussion is revolting. Not only are condoms being handed out to teens but now they are worried about the size too. Makes me puke.



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Loraine

posted June 1, 2010 at 1:22 am


I just had to make a quick comment on this discussion, I don’t have the time
to say all that I’d like to, but just a few quick thoughts will do.
I think it’s a wonderful thing when parents are willing and able to take
the time to raise thoughtful, well-educated kids who grow up to be
happy, healthy adults. If religion is a part of that, great; but I don’t
believe it to be essential to raising good kids.
That being said, let’s be realistic…there are a huge amount of
parents who simply don’t care, or are unable to be such ‘good’ parents.
Huge numbers of kids grow up without proper parental guidance- this
is true, even in some affluent or religious families. These are the
kids most at risk to make poor choices. They are the ones most prone
to teen pregnancy, std’s, drug abuse, etc.
People who preach abstinance only just stick their heads in the
sand when it comes to reality. I have no problem with religious parents
who do that with their own kids. But they need to stop trying to force
it on society. It is just not a realistic or appropriate approach for
every kid or every family. Education and some guidance (abstinance
AND responsible birth control) is the most realistic and humane
approach.



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Norman

posted June 1, 2010 at 1:25 am


Government distribution of condoms on the grounds that Teens will avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies is simply false. There will be all the more STDs and unwanted pregnancies because the Teens using them know nothing of self-control and character building. Teaching abstenance to Teens is the right thing, the moral thing. A sad day when schools promoting sexual activity among Teens are encouraging Teens to be immoral. This consequent immorality among sexually active Teens will only increase STDs and the unwanted pregnancies. Teachers and Counselors obviously cannot promote morality because they themselves are without morality and a True God. These Teachers are the last people who should be teaching our children.



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Norman

posted June 1, 2010 at 1:43 am


Loraine
You just do not get it, dear. So many think as you do, and you all just do not get it. STDs and unwanted pregnancies do not come about because of the use or non-use of condoms. The numbers of rising STDs and unwanted pregnancies and abortions are a result of a lack of character and immoral behavior. You can teach Teens to build character. You can teach Teens to love morality. You can teach Teens to love God and to strive to walk the moral path. And the results through abstenance is not only far less STDs and abortions, but equipping Teens with tools to have needed happy marriages and families, and a healthy society for the future. Teens do not need public schools that encourage them to be immoral, they need private and truely Christians schools to teach young people to rise above immorality and sin.



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Panthera

posted June 1, 2010 at 8:20 am


Loraine,
You raise some very valid points.
Norman, daaahling,
Instead of belittling those of us who see this differently than you, why not just accept that the ‘abstinence only’ approach up until now has failed utterly and try working with other Christians who don’t share your dualistic world view to try and find solutions which do work?
By casting Loraine’s suggestions as prima facie immoral, you are just digging a very deep hole even deeper.



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pagansister

posted June 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm


Loraine: Your comments are valid…though some disagree.
Norman, Loraine most certainly does get IT! In an ideal world, there would be only children and adults who would act responsibly. The parent(s) would teach their children to just wait to have sex until their “right person” comes along to marry, settle down and have 1.5 children…planned of course. Those children would only have sex after they were married to the right person, and have their 1.5 children. planned of course etc. Between the children, they would use whatever birth control they felt comfortalbe with. Grow up, Norman. As much as people would like a Perfect world…it isn’t. Not all children have the responsible parent to teach them, or advise them. Giving children all the facts regarding abstince, birth control etc. is very important. Mentioning the consequences of unprotected sex..the physical (STD’s, babies) as well as the emotional ones are important. However, with all that, there are always those who will follow their hearts (physical needs) and go for it. They should have the proper protection…and be taught how to use that protection. Doing that does NOT encourage anyone to have sex. Your arguements don’t hold water.



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Gerard Nadal

posted June 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm


Megan,
Right on! Keep up the witness, and keep shaming the ‘adults’ who’ve given up on your generation.



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