The Condom: False Savior

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

Because of Love, there are many things I will not do, but I am ready to die for it.

                                                           St. Maria Goretti, who died resisting a rapist.

I'll do a lot for love, But I'm not ready to die for it.

                                                                   Various women in popular condom ads.

Anti-Life Philosophy.

Since our young people are going to be sexually active anyway, let's make it easier, safer, and more pleasant for them to do so by encouraging them to use condoms.

Condoms will help stem the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases like AIDS and chlamydia, and will also prevent unwanted pregnancies, therefore cutting down on the number of abortions.


The condom fosters neither abstinence nor monogamy; rather it does the opposite. Those who stress condom usage only put the seal of approval on active genital sex. The message it communicates is that the condom is a good which converts irresponsible sex into responsible sex, giving it the appearance of acceptability and respectability. It is the old refrain of birth controllers which has only resulted in more and more adolescent pregnancies.

                                                                                          Herbert Ratner, M.D.[1]

It is common knowledge among health professionals that sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), some of them incurable and/or fatal, have found fertile ground to multiply in our sex-crazed American society.

The response of our government at every level, and the reaction of various social service agencies to this explosion of STDs, was as predictable as it was pitiful: They took the inherently Humanistic position that Americans (not just teenagers) are mere animals. Since they can't be trusted to control their sexual urges, we might as well make it as safe for them as possible to fornicate with whomever they please.

The government's weapons of choice were not chastity and monogamy, but 'education' and condoms. Even Bill Clinton's new Surgeon General sported a "rubber tree" on her desk.

And so, with intriguing names like "Arouse," "Embrace," "Excita," and "Pleaser," condoms crowd pharmacy shelves and restroom walls, leering at potential users and proclaiming the merits of "family planning" and "safe sex" on their vividly-colored packages.

Unfortunately, members of the public uncritically accept the government and the condom manufacturers at their word. And nobody (except a few pro-lifers, who are universally ignored) seems to be asking the most vital question of all.

If condoms are so great at preventing pregnancy and AIDS transmission, why does our nation continue to experience a rapidly-escalating rate of teen pregnancy and an exploding AIDS epidemic as more and more millions of condoms are distributed each year?

But Are They Safe?

The Vital Question.

Even after we get past the government hype and the alluring advertising, we are still left with the central question: In this age of AIDS and other incurable STDs, should we trust our very lives to the family planner's 'cure-all,' the condom?

The Consumer's Union Study. The nation's most trusted consumer's advocacy group, the Consumer's Union (CU), interviewed 3,300 of its readers in order to determine the effectiveness of condoms at preventing conception and disease. CU also mechanically tested 16,000 condoms of 37 different varieties and brands. The results of its studies, as reported in the March 1989 issue of Consumer Reports, are revealing indeed.

About one-fourth of the Consumer Union's readers reported at least one instance of condom breakage in a one-year period, and about one in eight experienced two or more incidents of breakage in one year.[2]

Using these and other data, CU estimated that an average of one condom in 165 broke during heterosexual intercourse, and about one in 105 broke during anal intercourse. This failure rate was much lower than that produced by most other studies.

Resulting Pregnancies. The resulting 0.6 percent (1/165) condom breakage rate for normal heterosexual intercourse, when extrapolated over an average of 100 acts of intercourse each year, and accounting for the woman's periods of infertility, results in a method effectiveness rate of about 95.5 percent per year.[3]

"Method effectiveness" is the best rate that can possibly be expected, since it accounts only for failures in the condom but not for failures in use.

"Contraceptive failure" is defined as the percentage of women who become pregnant while using one method of contraceptive exclusively for one year. This category includes both failure of the method (such as physical condom breakage as found by CU), and failure of the user to employ the method properly.

If we include mistakes in condom usage, the actual effectiveness rate of the prophylactic is 89.2 percent per year.

This rate is confirmed by the contraceptive industry's "Bible," the annual Contraceptive Technology.

With a failure rate of (100.0% - 89.2%) = 10.8 percent, the chances of pregnancy for a woman whose sexual partner(s) faithfully use condoms for 100 average annual instances of intercourse are as follows.

Keep in mind that these are the lowest rates that can generally be expected, since they assume 100% condom usage all the time.


[A medium text size on your computer's 'view' setting is recommended, otherwise, the tables may be discombobulated.]

Time Period             Chances of Pregnancy

    1 year                               11 percent
   2 years                               20 percent
   3 years                               29 percent
   4 years                               37 percent
   5 years                               44 percent
 10 years                               68 percent

According to Census Bureau sources, about 3.6 million couples use condoms regularly for birth control.[4] 10.8 percent of this number means that 390,000 unwanted pregnancies occur every year due to condoms breaking a number equivalent to one-fourth of all the abortions performed in the United States annually!

Figure 100-1 includes many quotes from leading experts who have shown in studies that condoms are dismal failures at preventing pregnancies.

FIGURE 100-1

After reviewing the extensive literature on contraception, some variation in results is found. Reported failure rates for condom use vary from about 2 to 35 unplanned pregnancies per year, but a conservative consensus reveals a rate in the range of 8 failures per 100 users each year in the general population. Simple mathematics would conclude that after five years, the number pregnant with this method would be five times the yearly rate. Thus, after five years of condom use, there would be about forty pregnancies in this group of 100 real people ...

Stephen Genuis, M.D. "What About the Condom?" Risky Sex (2nd Edition). Edmonton, Alberta: KEG Publishing, 1991.

Of 100 women whose partner uses a condom for one year, 3 to 36 will become pregnant.

United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. "Contraception: Comparing the Options."

In the Oxford/Family Planning Association contraceptive study, 4% of highly motivated couples relying on condoms experienced an unplanned pregnancy within one year, while more generally representative data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the United States show that between 6% and 22% of couples relying on condoms experienced an unplanned pregnancy within a year, the rate depending on the woman's age and whether the couples wished to delay pregnancy or to prevent it. Much of the health education material about HIV infection has failed to stress the limitations of the condom.

M.P. Vessy and L. Villard Mackintosh. "Condoms and AIDS Prevention." The Lancet, March 7, 1987, page 568.

Use of a barrier method backed up by abortion in case of failure confers over a woman's reproductive life complete protection against unplanned childbearing with a minimal risk of mortality. For some women, however, such a course is morally unacceptable, since it involves a high likelihood of having at least one abortion.

K. Ory, Making Choices: Evaluating the Health Risks and Benefits of Birth Control Methods. Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1983, page 60.

Only about 1% of women who rely on condoms as their main birth control method always use them effectively, a new survey finds ...

Marilyn Elias. "Correct Use of Condoms is Rare." USA Today, December 13, 1991.

Dr. Richard Gordon, International AIDS Conference presenter and University of Manitoba professor, concluded after live studies that red dye testing demonstrated that seminal fluid leaks out of even properly-fitted condoms both prior to and after orgasm.

Beverly Sottile-Malona. "Condoms and AIDS." America, November 2, 1991.

One test showed that 14.6 percent of condoms used in a clinical trial either broke or slipped off the penis during intercourse or withdrawal. A survey at a Manchester, England family planning clinic revealed that 52% of the respondents had experienced condom breakage or slippage during the past three months alone.

Alan Guttmacher Institute. Family Planning Perspectives, January/February 1992, pages 20 to 23. Also see R.J.E. Kirkman, J. Morris, and A.M.C. Webb. "User Experience: Mates v. Nuforms." British Journal of Family Planning, 1990;15:107-111.

A Federally-funded UCLA study of the effectiveness of 29 major condom brands showed that reliability ranged from a high of 98.9% to an incredible low of 21.3%.

"Condom Reliability." Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1988.

Teens and Condoms. In light of their dismal record, the only thing more illogical than adults using condoms is adults providing condoms to teenagers especially in the schools.

An article in the Alan Guttmacher Institute's Family Planning Perspectives quotes an annual condom failure rate of 18.4 percent among teenaged girls under 18 years old. This means that more than half of the users will be pregnant within three years.

The authors also say that "These rates are understated because of the substantial underreporting of abortion among single women; if abortion reporting was complete, failure rates would be 1.4 times as high as they appear high."[3]

These figures have been borne out in studies of those public schools that have distributed condoms to their students.

One writer describes the dismal results of one of the first free-condom programs to be instituted at a high school in the United States;

In the three years since this [Adams City, Colorado] high school became one of the first to hand out condoms, the birth rate has soared to 31% above the national average of 58.1 births per 1,000 students [annually].

Last year, 76 of Adams City students became teen mothers, This year, more than 100 births are expected. That's left people at this school, recognized throughout Colorado for its cutting-edge educational and social programs, searching for explanations.[5]

Resulting AIDS Infections.

One outstanding feature of the AIDS panic is the fanatical way that the Planned Parenthood types insist that "safe sex" is still possible in the face of this menace.

Their prescription for "safe sex" is usually condoms. But trusting one's very life to a thin membrane a few millionths of an inch thick translates into sheer lunacy when the scientific facts are examined.

A recent University of Miami Medical School Study showed that 17 percent of women whose HIV-infected husbands faithfully used condoms contracted AIDS-Related Complex (ARC) in an 18-month period.[6]

The February 6, 1987 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association described another study of AIDS transmission between infected and uninfected partners. The study included 32 heterosexual couples, each of which included one infected male and one noninfected female. After a period of from one to three years, the following rates of AIDS transmission were noted;


12 of 14 women not using
   condoms were infected               (86%)
3 of 10 women using condoms
   consistently                                 (30%)
0 of 8 women abstaining
   from sex                                       (0%)

Reference: "Evaluation of Heterosexual Partners, Children and Household Contacts of Adults With AIDS." Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), February 6, 1987 (257:640).

Condoms Just Don't Do the Job.

The most significant result of this study is that consistent condom use does not prevent AIDS transmission. In a period of three years, infected partners transmitted the AIDS virus to their spouses at an annual rate of 11.2 percent. This means that, during a period of six years, more than half of the uninfected partners of AIDS patients will become infected themselves despite 100% use of condoms.

According to virtually every source, the failure rate for condoms during anal sex is approximately three times that for heterosexual intercourse, because of the very heavy stresses placed on the material of the condom. This results in the following rates of AIDS transmission for anal and normal sex;


                                               Average AIDS Transmission
                                               When Condoms Are Used for;

  Time                                  Normal Sex                    Anal Sex

1 year                                    11 percent                      30 percent
2 years                                  21 percent                       51 percent
3 years                                  30 percent                       66 percent
4 years                                  38 percent                       76 percent
5 years                                  45 percent                       83 percent
10 years                                70 percent                       97 percent

In view of the extremely long latent period for AIDS (and the many sexual partners that homosexuals have), these statistics should be frightening to all sexually active homosexual men who think they are safe with condoms.

And so-called "Safe(r) Sex" educations seems not to be working. According to those who know the best the condom manufacturers intensive advertising on radio, television, and some cable networks has led to no increase in the use of condoms over the last five years.[7]

Figure 100-2 includes quotes from experts in the field who have shown that condoms are extremely ineffective at preventing infection by the incredibly tiny AIDS virus.

FIGURE 100-2

I think these results certainly tell us right off that one condom is not the same as the next. Koop and AIDS groups and others promoting condoms have been very careless about that point ... The Lifestyles Conture, Trojan Ribbed Natural, Trojan Ribbed and Contracept Plus all showed evidence of virus leakage. One in 10 condoms tested leaked in each brand, except for the Contracept Plus, which leaked [HIV] virus 10 of the 25 times it was tested.

Dr. Cecil Fox, quoted in Allan Parachini. "Condom Study Finding Wide Differences Among Brands." Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1988.

The possible consequences of condom failure when one partner is HIV infected are serious enough and the likelihood of failure sufficiently high that condom use by risk groups should not be described as 'safe sex'... Condoms have a substantial failure rate: 13-15% of women whose male partners use condoms as the sole method of contraception become pregnant within one year.

Jeffrey A. Kelly and Janet S. St. Lawrence. "Cautions About Condoms in Prevention of AIDS." The Lancet (Journal of the English Medical Society). February 7, 1987, page 323.

Professionals and the public alike have been misled into believing that sex with a condom is safe ... considering the 10% pregnancy rate with the use of condoms, this creates a dangerous false sense of security. We consider it irresponsible to suggest to anyone that condoms are entirely safe ... advising persons that it is safe to have sex with condoms is false, provides an erroneous sense of security, and can kill partners.

Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Fall 1986, page 164.

As has been discussed, condoms do not offer protection for diseases that are transmitted by skin to skin contact such as human papilloma virus and herpes simplex virus, frequently found throughout the genital area in infected individuals. No degree of condom education will curb the transmission of these organisms.

Stephen Genuis, M.D. "What About the Condom?" Risky Sex (2nd Edition). Edmonton, Alberta: KEG Publishing, 1991.

The officials note that condoms have been widely rejected as a method of birth control because they frequently fail, and say the devices may be no better in fact, may be worse at curtailing AIDS. They warn that sexually active men and women should not assume that they are protected simply because they use prophylactics ... The safe-sex message just isn't true. You're still playing a kind of Russian roulette. Instead of having six bullets in the chamber, you have one.

Bruce Voeller, M.D., researcher with the Mariposa Research Foundation, quoted in Lindsey Gruson. "Condoms: Experts Fear False Sense of Security." The New York Times, August 18, 1987.

Condoms failed to prevent HIV transmission in three of 18 couples, suggesting that the rate of condom failure with HIV may be as high as 17%.

James J. Goedert, M.D. "What is Safe Sex?" New England Journal of Medicine, October 21, 1987, page 1,340.

The condom was useless as a prophylactic against gonorrhea and even under ideal conditions against syphilis.

Nicholas J. Fiumara, M.D., Massachusetts Department of Public Health. "Effectiveness of Condoms in Preventing V.D." New England Journal of Medicine, October 21, 1971, page 972.

Of Parachutes and Prophylactics.

If parachutes had the abysmal safety record that condoms do, skydiving would have been outlawed long ago. Add to this the fact that a thousand people die of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases to every person who dies in a parachuting accident, and it is obvious that we have a major case of nationwide myopia. It is also obvious that most people would choose death by parachute failure than a lingering, hideous wasting away at the 'hands' of the AIDS virus.

In fact, Good Housekeeping Magazine will not even accept condom advertisements, because they are not reliable enough for its "Seal of Approval."[8]

Apparently, when it comes to birth control, anything goes. What is apparently important is not whether or not you are safe, but whether or not you think you are safe.

Condom Permeability.

Latex Condoms.

Under the 30,000 power magnification of a scanning electron microscope, a stretched latex condom presents a membrane which is impermeable to sperm and bacteria, but not always to most viruses (which are about one-fiftieth the size of a sperm cell). This is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that condoms can help prevent the spread of many sexually-transmitted viruses, including AIDS, genital herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis.

Even when latex condoms do not leak or tear, the size of their pores present a grave question regarding AIDS transmissibility, as explained by C.M. Roland, editor of Rubber Chemistry and Technology;

My only comment is to point out that the rubber comprising latex condoms has intrinsic voids about 5 microns (0.0002 inches) in size. Since this is roughly 10 times smaller than sperm, the latter are effectively blocked in ideal circumstances. The 12 percent failure rate of condoms in preventing pregnancy is attributable to in situ cracking, removal, ozone deterioration from improper sealing, manufactured defects, etc.

Contrarily, the AIDS virus is only 0.1 micron (4 millions of an inch) in size. Since this is a factor of 50 smaller than the voids inherent in rubber, the virus can readily pass through the condom should it find a passage.

A reluctance to stake one's life on the ability of a condom to prevent HIV infection bespeaks wisdom, not discrimination.[9]

What's a Micron?

The term "micron" may not mean much to most people, so some comparisons are shown below.

The graphical illustration below represents a single AIDS virus ((represented by the small box (Ü) against the larger box, which is the comparative size of the average pore in a latex condom.


        |                                                                                                           |
        |                                                                                                           |
        |                                                                                                           |
        |                                                                                                           |
        |                                                      O                                                  |
        |                                                                                                           |
        |                                                                                                           |
        |_____________________________________________________ |

Other comparisons that might be useful as demonstrators would be the comparison of a grapefruit (the condom pore) and a pea (the HIV virus). In a comparison at this scale, a sperm cell's head would be three feet in diameter, and the cell itself would be one hundred feet long.

As stated above, the sperm head is 50 microns in diameter, and the cell itself is about 750 microns long, including tail. The AIDS virus head is about one-tenth of a micron in diameter. When the length of the sperm cell itself is taken into account, the sperm cell is about half a million times more massive than the AIDS virus.

The comparison is equivalent to placing a field mouse weighing one-fifth of an ounce next to a three-ton bull elephant.

"Skin" Condoms.

So-called "skin" condoms, which account for most of the condoms used in the United States today, are much less reliable than latex condoms. They are made from part of a lamb's large intestine. Instead of the pore-free barrier presented by a latex condom, the "skin" appears as a fiber latticework under 30,000 power magnification, with some pores up to 1.5 microns in diameter. This size is smaller than sperm, but more than ten times larger than an AIDS virus and 25 times larger than the hepatitis-B virus. However, since a "skin" condom is composed of multiple layers, it may be impervious to these viruses.

Studies and Inspections.

Of four major laboratory studies performed so far, three show "skin" condom impermeability to viruses, and one shows permeability.[2]

FDA inspectors have been conducting unannounced tests of domestic condoms at factories and imported condoms at their ports of entry since April of 1987. If more than 4 in 1,000 condoms fail the "pinhole test," the entire lot is destroyed.

As of July of 1988, more than 15 million condoms had been destroyed because their lots had too many defects. This is about ten percent of all domestic condoms and twenty percent of all imported condom lots tested.

It should be highly significant to those people who value their lives that the FDA only tests about seven percent (one in fourteen) of all condom lots.

References: Condoms.

[1] Herbert Ratner, M.D. Quoted in Human Life International Reprint #26. Also see Child and Family Magazine, 20: 83-86, 1988.

[2] "Can You Rely on Condoms?" Consumer Reports, March 1989, pages 135 to 141.

[3] W.R. Grady, M.D. Hayward, and J. Yagi. "Contraceptive Failure in the United States: Estimates From the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth." Alan Guttmacher Institute's Family Planning Perspectives, September/October 1986, page 204.

[4] United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1988, Table 99.

[5] Jana Mazanee. "Birth Rate Soars At Colorado School." USA Today, May 19, 1992, page 3A.

[6] "Evaluation of Heterosexual Partners, Children and Household Contacts of Adults With AIDS." Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 1987 (257:640).

[7] Crain's Chicago Business, May 25, 1987. As described in "AIDS and Advocate Science." Fidelity Magazine, October 1987, pages 10 to 12.

[8] Letter entitled "Sound Medical Advice," by William V. Fitzsimmons, M.D. Fidelity Magazine, April 1987, pages 11 and 12.

[9] C.M. Roland, editor, Rubber Chemistry and Technology. "Do You Want to Stake Your Life on a Condom?" The Washington Times, April 22, 1992.

Further Reading: Condoms.

Greenhaven Press. Human Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints
Greenhaven Press Opposing Viewpoints Series, Post Office Box 289009, San Diego, California 92128-9009. 1989, 440 pages. This series consists of a basic volume followed by annual updates by the same name. The main arguments for and against each idea are written by the leading activists in each field. Topics covered include contraceptives (the birth control pill and condoms are emphasized), AIDS, homosexuality, and abortion. This topic is covered by a series of books, beginning with a basic set of essays entitled Sources and continuing with an additional and updated annual series of essays. A catalog is available from the above address and can be obtained by calling 1-(800) 231-5163.

Human Life International. Project Condoms
33 pages, June 1992. More than one hundred detailed quotes by condom experts outlining the ineffectiveness of the prophylactic at preventing pregnancy and AIDS. Available from Human Life International, 7845-E Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, Virginia 20879.

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This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.