- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

A leading pro-life congressman yesterday defended Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's advocacy of condoms to prevent lethal sexual disease among teen-agers.
Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, said he had "no complaints" about Mr. Powell's remarks, which were made at a global youth forum on MTV last week.
"I'm not critical of Secretary Powell. I think he was addressing a limited audience namely, sexually active teen-agers," Mr. Hyde said in an interview yesterday on CNN. "Now, if you're dealing with people that are engaged in sexual conduct, I think it's wise to warn them of the consequences and some preventive method."
Speaking on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Mr. Hyde, an icon of the pro-life, pro-family movement, said he does not regard Mr. Powell's remarks as an endorsement of pre-marital sexual relations.
"I don't think he was advocating promiscuous sexuality for teen-agers. On the contrary, he moves in the other direction," Mr. Hyde said.
Mr. Powell himself stood firmly behind his remarks.
"I don't take one step back from the remarks I made … any other statement is reckless and irresponsible," the secretary said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
He irritated some right-to-life organizations when he said: "I believe condoms are part of the solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis, and I encourage their use by young people who are sexually active. You've got to protect yourself. If you don't protect yourself, who's going to protect you?
"It's important that the whole international community come together, speak candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you should tell young people about it."
Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and the Eagle Forum attacked the remarks, saying they undermined the administration's policy of promoting abstinence-based sex education.
As for abstinence programs, Mr. Powell said yesterday in a separate interview on "Late Edition" that "I'm a great believer in abstinence programs. My wife and I participated in the founding of such programs. We've funded them."
Mr. Powell said his comments on condoms reflected administration policy.
"The United States policy with respect to this issue starts with abstinence, then faithfulness, but then condoms for the simple reason that people are sexually active around the world."
He pointed out that he was talking to a worldwide audience of 17- to 25-year-olds and said his remarks about "conservative ideas" should not be construed politically.
"When I said we've got to get rid of conservative views, I wasn't talking about political conservative views, capital C. I was talking about small c. In many undeveloped nations, people don't want to talk about it. They hide behind old cultural mores and tribal shibboleths. We have to get rid of that, so that we can educate youngsters to protect themselves, educate youngsters why they should abstain, why they should be faithful," he said.

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