Associated Press - February 18, 2012
Bakersfield, Calif. (AP) - Teenagers in several counties can get
condoms in the mail for free under a program launched this week
and supported by state public health officials.
The Condom Access Project allows youth between the ages of 12 and
19 to order a package of 10 condoms, lube and health brochures
online at TeenSource.org, a website run by the nonprofit
California Family Health Council. The package will be mailed to
them in a nondescript yellow envelope.
Supporters say the program -- aimed at reducing pregnancy and
sexually transmitted diseases among teens -- will benefit young
people who cannot afford to buy condoms or are too embarrassed to
go to clinics where they are distributed for free.
"We can't keep our heads in the sand and pretend there isn't a
problem...," Vice President of Public Affairs for the Family
Health Council Amy Moy told the Bakersfield Californian
(http://bit.ly/xKc2K1). "We want to make sure (teens are) as safe
Kern County has among the highest teenage birth rates in the
state, according to county health officials.
Critics say the program could be perceived as tacit approval of
teenage sex and may not go over well with parents.
"I would think the overwhelming majority of parents in Kern
County wouldn't think this is a good idea," said Linda Davis,
executive director of the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center, which
emphasizes abstinence. "And I don't think their kids would have
the nerve to request them."
The California Family Health Council countered by citing studies
it says have shown that access to birth control does not
encourage teenagers to have sex.
The condom program is supported by the California Department of
Public Health's STD Control Branch. It is available in Kern,
Alameda, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties and parts of San
Teens will be limited to one package of condoms per month.
"It'd be best if teens didn't have sex, but if they're going to
do it anyway, they need to protect themselves," said Denis Smith,
director of disease control for the Kern County Department of
Public Health, which is not involved with the project. "As a
public health department, we have an obligation to provide
education and tools."
Information from: The Bakersfield Californian,