This essay’s title is meant to help candidates like John McCain, who seems unsure about condoms. Asked in Iowa about his views on taxpayer funding of condom distribution in Africa, he sort of fumbled around. Asked about teaching students about contraception in public schools, he said he “support[s] the president’s policy.” The reporter asked:
Q: So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) You’ve stumped me.
But this question shouldn’t stump him. It’s been a major political issue for some time, and the current system encourages programs which lead children to experiment with anal and oral sex. Contraception works, abstinence-only programs don’t.
The reporter was equally surprised that McCain couldn’t give a straight answer to the question.
Q: I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?
Mr. McCain: (Laughs) Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.
McCain, you see, has taken so many positions that he literally cannot keep track. The President’s policies are failing Africa and failing our children. The policy that works in Africa and in America is to teach people these steps:
- Be Faithful to your partner; and
Where that program has been implemented, HIV and other disease rates have been controlled, unwanted pregnancies decrease, and people don’t wind up with the crazy idea that anal sex “doesn’t count.”
The reporter, disturbed at the runaround on this important topic, pressed on:
Q: But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?
Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.
Really? Never got into the issue of whether condoms are effective at limiting HIV transmission? Not even when he was having one night stands with Brazilian models? Coburn is a kook, a Christian Reconstructionist who got in trouble for sterilizing a 20 year-old patient without permission, and then billing Medicaid for the illegal procedure (despite policy against Medicaid reimbursements for patients under 21). Coburn, as an OB/GYN, has performed abortions, but says that doctors who perform such procedures deserve the death penalty.
Of course, Coburn is also out in the wings with regard to condoms. He has waged an unceasing war to get labels onto condom boxes warning that they are not effective against some diseases, even after a major NIH review rejected that claim.
You’ll note that my title contains the appositive phrase “properly used.” Studies of pregnancy and disease transmission show that people who have been using condoms longer (and those who have been taught about them in school) have much lower failure rates. Someone worried about reducing transmission rates ought to support federally funded abstinence-plus sex ed, aka comprehensive sex ed. By opposing such education, Coburn reveals his true agenda, and by endorsing Coburn’s views, McCain ties himself to that same horse, endangering children here and abroad.