NEW YORK — The American Life League, one of the nation's largest anti-abortion organizations, Wednesday announced a television and radio campaign that attacks condoms as a means of preventing AIDS and advocates abstinence from sexual activity until marriage as the only safe method.
"There is no such thing as safe sex," said Judie Brown, president of the organization, which is based in Stafford, Va. "We think that human beings should be given the right to make a fully informed decision. All I can hope for is to be able to provide everyone with the ability to make a clear choice."
Brown said her organization produced the advertisements because the public has not been hearing the truth about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing AIDS. She called it unfair that Americans have been told condoms will prevent contraction of AIDS. The advertisements claim that condoms have a failure rate of 10% to 30% in preventing the disease, as reported by U.S. Public Health Services AIDS Coordinator Dr. Gary Noble. Noble also is director of the Surgeon General's Task Force on AIDS.
The American Life League has produced nine radio advertisements and eight television spots, which were shipped to stations in 100 major media markets throughout the country Wednesday. While stations will decide whether to use the ads, Brown said her organization is prepared to sue to get the ads on the air. The ads feature Brown, Tom Herr, second-basemen of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and Dr. William F. Colliton Jr., a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Silver Spring, Md.
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Wednesday July 29, 1987 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 9 Column 6 Television Desk 2 inches; 54 words Type of Material: Correction
In a Thursday story in Calendar on the American Life League's radio and television campaign advocating abstinence in sexual activity and attacking the use of condoms as an AIDS preventive, it was incorrectly indicated through an editing error that paid advertisements would be used. The messages were prepared as public service announcements for use by stations at their discretion.
In the ads, Brown says that as the mother of three teen-agers, she is "terribly concerned about AIDS. Experts can't agree about whether or not condoms stop AIDS. Yet some people are betting their life on it. Isn't it time you know the truth?"
Herr says in one of the ads that the 10% to 30% failure rate of condoms "is too risky to make sex safe" and recommends that people "exercise self control, save yourself for marriage and be true to your spouse . . . just to stay in the game."
In each ad, viewers or listeners are instructed to write to the League for further information. Should they do so, they would receive two brochures, "AIDS and You" and "AIDS and Your Children," which explain what AIDS is, describes how it is transmitted and says that "2-5 million Americans may be infected with AIDS; while some of these may show no symptoms, 30-50% will die by 1991."
David J. Andrews, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which advocates airing advertisements for condoms as a preventative measure against the spread of AIDS, said that "No responsible person ever suggested that condoms are 100% effective at preventing AIDS. They are, however, very important and, if used properly, will help halt the spread of AIDS.
"Given the fact of life that human beings are sexual and are not going to abstain, the only method available is condoms," he said. "I believe it is a disservice to dissuade people from using condoms, especially when they are left with no method at all."
Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's office agrees.
"The Surgeon General said in his October report on AIDS that abstinence and faithful monogamous relationships are effective methods against contracting AIDS," said James M. Brown, director of the news division of the Public Health Service office of communications. "However, if people do not have faithful, monogamous relationships and take high risks, the condom is the only method available, even though it is not 100% effective."
The ads were made by CDR Consulting & Production in Woodbridge, Va., and cost roughly $60,000 to produce and ship.