Illinois governor defends condom decision
December 08 2004 12:00 AM ET
The administration of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has defended his decision to stop the Illinois public-health department from purchasing any more flavored or colored condoms. Some health workers said they were disappointed by the governor's decision to stop distribution of the condoms to clinics and local health agencies. "It catches the younger people's eye, and that's the generation we're trying to get because they're engaging in risky behavior," said Dante Bryant, an outreach specialist at the Sara Center in Springfield. Sara Center receives the flavored and colored condoms from the state and then hands them out at bars or areas frequented by drug users.
This year, IPHD has given clinic and local health agencies about 360,000 flavored condoms and 910,000 colored condoms in addition to the millions of ordinary condoms it regularly provides. Illinois has spent about $117,000 in federal money on condoms this year. When Blagojevich learned about the special condoms, he ordered IPHD not to purchase any in the future. "He just felt it was inappropriate," said Rebecca Rausch, a spokeswoman for Blagojevich. "It's one thing to promote safe sex. It's another thing to encourage sexual activity."
Some, however, rejected the idea that the special condoms encourage sexual activity that would otherwise not take place. "I haven't seen any indication of that," said Don Hunt, a Springfield public-health department supervisor. Louanner Peters, Blagojevich's deputy chief of staff for human services, said the administration is concentrating efforts on minority AIDS education and testing and education programs for soon-to-be-released prisoners in addition to distributing regular condoms.