AMA: Condom Distribution Resolution Irks GOP Doctor
Practicing physician and U.S. Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) slammed the American Medical Association's recent decision to advocate condom distribution programs in schools rather than abstinence-only education, charging that the policy is medically irresponsible and "politically correct," the Washington Times reports. The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs report, released last week, suggested that school-based condom distribution programs are more effective among teens than abstinence-only programs. Dr. Nancy Neilsen, who presented the report at an AMA conference in San Deigo said, "The abstinence-only programs have been poorly studied and there is no evidence of efficacy" (United Press International, 12/7). An AMA spokesperson defended the group's decision as sensible and scientifically sound. Dr. John Nelson, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, said, "I think we're on the side of angels on this" (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 12/16). Coburn, however, contended that the resolution is "ill-advised" and that distribution of condoms in schools is "in conflict with common sense and sound medical principle" (Coburn release, 12/14). In a letter to AMA President Dr. Thomas Reardon, Coburn compared the condom policy with cigarette smoking and drunk driving, saying, "We would not be satisfied with promoting filter cigarettes to reduce lung disease, nor would we urge drunk drivers to be sure to wear seat belts" (Myers, Tulsa World, 12/15). Coburn, who has made the fight against STDs a hallmark of his work in Congress, added, "What studies tell us is simply that ... condom distribution leads to more condom use -- but not necessarily to lower pregnancy and STD rates," whereas the emergence of abstinence education in recent years "coincides with the first recorded reduction in sexual activity and out-of-wedlock pregnancy among adolescents" (Coburn release, 12/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.