Louisiana Lawmakers Considering Amendment to State Budget That Would End Condom Distribution Program
The Louisiana House has approved an amendment to the state budget (HB 1) that would end the state's publicly funded condom distribution program, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The amendment, sponsored by state Rep. Gary Beard (R), would ban the state from using public money to buy or distribute condoms, which health organizations say help prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Since 1993, the state has made condoms available in public places, including bars, restaurants, barber shops, liquor stores and motels, according to Sharon Howard, director of the state Office of Public Health. In an interview with the Times-Picayune, Beard said that the money from the condom program should go toward purchasing prescription drugs for seniors and that condoms should not be distributed in schools. However, condoms from the program have never been distributed in schools, according to an unnamed state health official. The measure is awaiting action by the state Senate Finance Committee. According to data from the state public health office, Louisiana ranks first in the nation in the number of gonorrhea cases, second in the number of chlamydia cases and third in the number of syphilis cases (Pope, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.