Planned Parenthood protests WJZ's airing of 'Sex, Lies . . .'

November 04, 1995|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,SUN STAFF

Despite Planned Parenthood of Maryland's protest that it contains factual inaccuracies, WJZ-TV (Channel 13) will air "Sex, Lies and the Truth," a program produced by a conservative religious group to promote teen-age sexual abstinence.

"I think any time you talk about this subject from either side you're doing a service," says Michael Easterling, the station's manager of programming and public affairs. He says any program on the subject was bound to be criticized by people invested in a particular point of view. The 30-minute show airing at 7 p.m. will be followed by a 30-minute taped group discussion featuring about 25 teen-agers from the Baltimore area.

Tracy Zimmerman, Planned Parenthood's spokeswoman, says she talked with Mr. Easterling by phone Thursday and asked him to dump the program. She says Planned Parenthood agrees with the message of abstinence, but says the show includes misleading information about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

"If you watch this tape you may think 'What's the point in using a condom?' " says Ms. Zimmerman.

The program says that condoms fail to prevent pregnancy 15 percent of the time. That's true, says Dr. Paul Blumenthal, Planned Parenthood's medical director, but teen-agers should not be led to believe that condoms are not effective in preventing STDs.

Planned Parenthood also says the program inaccurately states that women can become pregnant only one day per month, when in fact it varies from one woman to the next. The program reports that the number of sexually transmitted infections has increased in the last few years due to unconventional sexual practice. Not true, says Planned Parenthood: HIV is the only relatively new sexually transmitted disease.

The program was produced by Focus on the Family, an organization founded by James Dobson based in Colorado Springs, Colo., home to several right-wing Christian groups.

Mr. Easterling said he cut about 90 seconds from the beginning that feature what he called a "heavily propagandized" abstinence lecture by Mr. Dobson. He says this was not in the program he saw when the station originally agreed to air the show.

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