Powell Wades Into 'Condoms vs Abstinence' Minefield

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Colin Powell has provoked some conservatives by telling an MTV music channel audience to "forget about conservative ideas" on condoms. Powell urged young people to use condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.

"It's the lives of young people that are put at risk by unsafe sex. And, therefore, protect yourself," he said in the interview, which aired Thursday night. He said he not only supported the use of condoms, "I encourage their use among people who are sexually active and need to protect themselves."

The question now is whether Powell's remarks go against the "abstinence-only" message promoted by the Bush administration and other conservatives, many of whom believe condoms give their users a false sense of security.

The conservative group Focus on the Family was among those blasting Powell's remarks. "Colin Powell is Secretary of State, not the Secretary of Health," said Focus on the Family President Dr. James Dobson.

"He is talking about a subject he doesn't understand. He clearly doesn't understand the science regarding condom efficacy." Dobson urged President Bush to repudiate Powell's remarks "immediately."

Ken Connor, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said Powell's remarks were "reckless and irresponsible" and a "slap in the face" to the president's core constituency.

On Thursday, in an effort to quell the fury, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said Powell had "limited his answer to people who are sexually active."

President Bush has just proposed a 33 percent increase in funding for abstinence-only programs.