If you believe in conspiracies (which, of course, none of us do!), look at these facts and see if one of those conspiracy-minded persons could find something here:
- Planned Parenthood Federation of America bills itself as the world’s largest voluntary family planning organization. In fact, on its website, PPFA states that “In many communities around the world, Planned Parenthood is the only source of affordable, quality reproductive health care services and information” (emphasis added).
- If condoms are used and fail, pregnancy can – and often does – occur.
- Abortion is heralded by PPFA as a “solution” for unwanted pregnancy.
- PPFA’s annual report for 2003-2004 shows that more than one-third of its annual income comes from abortions.
- PPFA is consistently critical of abstinence education as a solution for sexual health and behavior issues, while promoting so-called “safe sex.” According to PPFA’s website, Condoms are an effective, inexpensive form of birth control.”
- A recent study by the independent testing service of Consumers Union, as reported in Consumer Reports magazine, February 2005, evaluated the performance of 23 kinds of latex condoms.
- Three condom types distributed by PPFA were tested. Those condoms finished 14th, 22nd, and 23rd (again, out of 23 types tested). In fact, the PPFA condoms that ranked 22nd and 23rd were the only condoms rated “poor” on strength.
The Consumer Reports article highlights the Consumers Union’s view of the importance of such tests, claiming that “condoms remain the only [pregnancy prevention] method that also can help prevent sexually transmitted diseases [STDs], including HIV.”
Though many experts in public health – and many of the world’s faith leaders – disagree, among the PPFA and its allies, the condom is considered to be the critical line of defense against pregnancy and STDs (some of which can lead to infertility, cancer, or death). With so much at stake, we would expect that the world’s “largest voluntary family planning organization” would dedicate significant energy and resources to developing and distributing the best condom possible. And yet, inexplicably, PPFA’s top performing condom in the study – called the Lollipop – finished in 14th place. Is it possible that the prevention of pregnancy and the preservation of life by condom use is not really Planned Parenthood’s top priority?
Surely we can also learn a great deal from PPFA’s response to the study. President Gloria Feldt issued a statement on Jan. 4, explaining, in no uncertain terms, that “our top priorities are the health and safety of our patients.” Feldt goes on to defend PPFA’s condoms, saying that PPFA immediately commissioned new tests for its condoms. The results, she says, were excellent.
Feldt goes on to assure readers that PPFA uses such feedback to make improvements to its products, saying, “For example, we will soon offer Honeydew condoms in a new package and color as a result of this feedback.”
Allow me to provide a short recap. The Honeydew (what a name!) condom had the worst score of all 23 condoms tested. According to the report, it was given an overall rating of poor “because its strength was so low compared with the rest.” Planned Parenthood’s response was first to order new tests – which magically transformed the results to excellent – and second, to offer what was rated by Consumers Union as a substandard condom in new colors.
Studies such as the one reported by Consumer Reports – who we learn has its own connections with the world of abortion advocacy (headline: “Consumer Reports CEO led Planned Parenthood“) – are critically important, but only because they serve to illustrate the fact that the world’s trust may be misguided when it is placed in condoms and in organizations such as PPFA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that in typical use for just one year, condoms failed 14 percent of the time in preventing pregnancy. This pregnancy prevention method is far from effective. What’s more, there is not sufficient evidence that condoms protect against the spread of some STDs, including the human papilloma virus. HPV is not only incurable, it is also the fastest spreading STD in America and has consistently been linked to cervical cancer.
There is another alternative which PPFA opposes at every turn. It’s called abstinence, and it is 100 percent reliable. Some will say we can’t expect teenagers to be abstinent, yet for decades, if not centuries, sexual abstinence was expected of unmarried individuals in Western society. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, abstinence was the norm among unmarried American teenage girls at least until 1982.
I wonder: Is that when we started telling ourselves it wasn’t realistic?
But then again, we don’t believe in conspiracies … right?