Who is Right about Condoms? The Pope or the President?

It is being reported that in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 Proposed Budget, the president recommends that Congress eliminate funding for abstinence education and instead pour funds into condoms and contraceptive-based sex education. At the same time, another report asserts that physicians are now confirming the Pope’s contention that “statistics prove condoms ineffective against HIV/AIDS. Who is right?

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LifeSiteNews.com says the Obama proposed budget calls for an additional $150 million for contraceptive-only education, which includes competitive grants, research, evaluation, and authorization for $50 million in new mandatory condom grants to states, tribes and territories.

Also, an Abstinence Clearinghouse press release states that the budget is said to eliminate the $133 million set aside for CBAE (Community Based Abstinence Education) and Title V Abstinence Education Program, the two main federal abstinence-education initiatives.

Pregnancy centers, like Life Network, a medical ministry in Colorado Springs where Barb and I serve on the Board, and other charitable organizations throughout the country would be among those affected by the elimination of CBAE funds. 

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told LifeSite News, “At a time when teens are subjected to an increasingly sexualized culture, it is essential that common-sense legislators from both sides of the aisle reject this extreme attempt to defund the only approach that removes all risk,” 

She went on to say, “Members of Congress would be well-advised to listen to youth and parents in their districts who overwhelmingly support these valuable programs.”

Leslee Unruh, President and Founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, told LifeSiteNews she believed there would be “political backlash” for elected officials if they oppose abstinence education.

February’s Omnibus Appropriations Bill also slashed abstinence program funds to $95 million, $54 million less than previously received.

Meanwhile, a group of doctors based in the Philippines have confirmed the Pope’s statement that “statistics prove condoms ineffective against HIV.”

The group of Catholic medical professionals has stated that condom promotion has failed to curb the spread of AIDS.  The group said that it agreed with a widely-criticized recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI in which he endorsed a renewed respect for sexuality in facing the AIDS epidemic, rather than condom use. 

“Condoms are highly dangerous,” said Yolly Eileen Gamutam, head of Asia’s Catholic Association of Doctors, Nurses and Health Professionals (ACIM-Asia), in an article on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website. 

“If we are promoting truthful public information then tell the people that using condoms is dangerous.”

Gamutam referenced the HIV crisis in Thailand, where widespread promotion and use of condoms has failed to curb the rise of HIV.

By the end of 2003, Thailand, with a population of 63 million, registered 570,000 HIV-positive adults and children.  Gamutam compared the statistic to the Philippines, where only 9,000 Filipinos were HIV-positive out of a population of 80 million.  500 died of AIDS in the Philippines that year, while 58,000 perished in Thailand. 

The data, said Gamutam, showed that “the condom use program in Thailand is not effective.”

“Even if all brothels were required to have supplies of condoms, and if they were available in all supermarkets, bars, restaurants, and other public gathering places still it would not deter the widespread of HIV/AIDS,” she said. 

She agreed with Pope Benedict XVI that abstinence and conjugal fidelity are the best way to combat the disease.

In past years the Philippines had earned dire forecasts from family planning groups, who said the nation was “courting an AIDS epidemic” for sustaining a policy against condoms.  Despite protests from Roman Catholic leaders, and a continuing low rate of HIV, the Philippines government began promoting condoms in 2008.

ACIM-Asia criticized the lobby group, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), which it calls “vehemently opposed to the Catholic Church and the pro-life cause,” for pushing the Philippine government to further fund contraception.  The lobby is financially supported by members of the European Parliament.

199 members of the European Parliament last week had voted in favor of a resolution – voted down by 253 others – to condemn Pope Benedict XVI’s answer to a question regarding the AIDS problem.  The pontiff in March said that the solution to the AIDS crisis mainly required “a humanization of sexuality” and renewed care for the suffering.

“If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem,” he said.

Although Benedict’s statement continues to draw fury from liberal groups around the world, some AIDS experts, including the head of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University, admit that evidence supports the pope’s position.  

“The pope is correct, or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments,” Harvard’s Dr. Edward Green told National Review Online in March.

So, who do you think is correct? The President? Or, the Pope? And, whose message would you want your kids to receive?

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