Thursday, March 01, 2007

False Anti-Planned Parenthood Propaganda on Campus

Yesterday in my WS class a student informed me (and the class) that Consumer Reports has just published a study that claimed PPFA handed out the worst condoms, likely to fail 85% of the time. I was unprepared for this claim and immediately went back to my office to research it. I am writing a post about it here if, for no other reason, I want any students reading this blog to get the straight story on this and thereby not fear PPFA as a reliable contraceptive provider.

The student said it was this month's CR. But, my research indicates that the report was issued in February 2005. The reaction to this particular issue of CR was explosive. Anti-choice groups accused PPFA of using CR for issuing its propaganda (i.e. here, here, here, here, etc.) The argument manufactured by the anti-choice groups was the PPFA purposely handed out "bad" condoms to increase demand for their abortion services. The claim is ludicrous on the face of it, if anyone knows anything about PPFA's mission. However, the propaganda machines of the wingnuts have created the automatic association, in the minds of their blind followers, that PPFA=Abortion provider.

In addition to accusing PPFA of artificially manufacturing demand for abortion services, some groups attacked CR for doing the issue to begin with, particularly because the CEO used to work at a PPFA (I have no facts on this, anyone?). What I think really pissed of the wingnuts was that CR actually called out the misinformation published at the CDC website on condom effectiveness, especially in the preventing the spread of HIV and STDs (see here).

Now to the question of whether or not PPFA hands out faulty condoms, here is the response. Perhaps others who know more about this can weigh in and correct the record here. But, as I see it, worse case scenario, one of PPFA's condoms didn't fare well by the standards of the CR test. PPFA heeded this report, re-tested and reaffirmed that they offer the best condoms possible. Best case scenario: there was never a real problem here.

UPDATE: After running this post by the student who alerted me to this CR report, she pointed out to me that I had misrepresented what she said. So, to set the record straight: (a) she said that the CR article claimed that condoms were 30-40% ineffective and (b) that the CR issue was not recent.