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April 11, 2006

Price Check Condoms For The Unwed, Sinning Teenager On Aisle Three

Pro-life, pro-choice, this is a bad move:

Sindy Dominguez, 17, of Hyattsville already had a baby, and didn't want another -- at least not until she'd established a home and a career. Three months after her daughter was born, she and her boyfriend went to the CVS pharmacy near their apartment to buy a large box of condoms. They found them locked in a case equipped with a button that read "push for assistance."

They pushed, and heard a call for help for a pharmacist, but no one came. They pushed again. And again.

"My boyfriend said, 'Do you want to just leave?' and I said, 'Yes, let's just go,' " said Dominguez. "We went to a nearby gas station and bought a few single condoms."

Keith Eby had a somewhat similar experience. A day after the 37-year-old health-care consultant found the condoms locked up at his neighborhood CVS at Logan Circle, he tried the CVS on M Street in Georgetown, near his office. Same problem.

"I don't get embarrassed easily, but even I couldn't imagine ringing a buzzer and having everyone in the store know I was purchasing condoms," said Eby. "I can't even imagine what that must be like for someone who does get embarrassed easily or is not comfortable with their sexuality."[...]

Christine Spencer-Grier, director of community education at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, has seen that firsthand. She helps run a program that assists teen mothers in avoiding another pregnancy. One of the program's projects has the young moms venture out to buy condoms and report back on their experiences.

Spencer-Grier said many come back talking of being too embarrassed to buy once they saw they would have to ask for help. Others reported that, when they asked a salesperson for assistance, they got dirty looks or a lecture about being too young for sex.

More abortions, blah blah, more teen pregnancy, yada yada yada. You guys have heard it before. The rationale here isn't puritanism but theft. The cure, however, isn't merely worse than the disease, it actually facilitates transmission.

April 11, 2006 | Permalink


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Tracked on May 27, 2006 8:03:17 AM


Sounds like a problem with theft, possibly. But as I haven't seen such a thing in other stores where condoms are sold, I do wonder about that.

Posted by: David W. | Apr 11, 2006 11:58:11 AM

My local stores don't lock up condoms. Cigarettes, yes, and of course, you have to wait in line for the pharmacist if you want to get Sudafed. But condoms are right out there.

I worked as a pharmacy tech at a large drug store for a number of years. Back then, we were required to keep the condoms behind the pharmacy counter. The rule was that we had to ask for proof of age (18+) before handing over the condoms, but in practice, we sold them to anyone who requested them. My thought was that I didn't care whether they wanted the condoms for sex, for funny experiments with Alka-Seltzer, or for superior water balloon weaponry: if they asked, they got.

There was a standing joke, although I swear I never employed it. It's when a guy would go to the pharmacy and ask for condoms. You, the clerk, would solemnly ask him what size he wanted. Of course, you meant if he wanted a packet of three, a dozen, or three dozen. Then you'd wait to see if he fell for it and stammered, "Umm, large?" We used to say that for marketing purposes, condoms should be classified sort of like olives: large, jumbo, and super-colossal.

Then things changed, and now there is half an aisle fully stocked with bright packages of competing condom brands. To imagine them locked up again...theft deterrence? No way.

Posted by: larkspur | Apr 11, 2006 12:05:28 PM

The only reason people steal condoms instead of buying them is because the culture has people too embaressed to buy them.

This issue has been a crusade of mine since high school. Let's not let the drugstores make excuses.

Posted by: ElanaDMI | Apr 11, 2006 12:05:28 PM

Precisely ElanaDMI and David. If society stopped having a puritanical (read: nonsensical) view of sex, we wouldn't have these problems. Would help if the person buying showed a little courage ('balls,' if you will) but I understand the youth are a bit scared, understandably so.

Personally, if I rang that bell and noone came, I would loudly proclaim, "Helloooo. Need some condoms here. Would like to get laid in this decade, thank you very much."

Posted by: Adrock | Apr 11, 2006 12:45:39 PM

If owning scum bags is a crime, only criminals will own scum bags.

Posted by: Ribbed | Apr 11, 2006 1:12:41 PM

Yes, I've seen this. I found it interesting that the lube was out on the shelf while the condoms were locked up. You can have slippery, well lubed sex, but not safe.

Posted by: Afaeyre Maede | Apr 11, 2006 1:41:08 PM


Posted by: fiat lux | Apr 11, 2006 1:48:35 PM

Reason Number 6 of
Sixteen ideas in which you must believe to be a Republican today.
by Jeff Sklar Santa Monica Daily Press April 8-9, 2006 page 5
6 If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex. It's been proven.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 11, 2006 2:38:18 PM

Hey, don't like a stores marketing practices? Go to another store. End of story. No bitching, no whining, blogging, etc.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 11, 2006 3:31:06 PM


don't like a blog's commenters? Go to another blog. End of story. No bitching, no whining, etc.

Posted by: TJ | Apr 11, 2006 3:42:03 PM

I can't speak to all of the cases but if this is the Logan Circle in DC, then it ain't but a hop, skip, and jump from where the prositutes "wander." Makes me wonder if in this case, this is CVS's attempt to say to prostitutes (and John's) don't hand in front of our store

Posted by: ET | Apr 11, 2006 3:52:52 PM

don't like a blog's commenters?

I was gonna say the *exact* same thing to you!!

OK, I will spell it out for you in case you're on drugs or something. This is a non-story........a nothin'. There is no story. There is no conspiracy to keep condoms from anyone. If you believe otherwise, then show us all some evidence.


Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 11, 2006 3:57:26 PM

Fredling, the evidence that this story is of interest is that we are talking about it. Interest in an event, observation of an event, speculation about an event...none of it requires a finding of conspiracy in order to discuss it.

And yes, all in all, I'm happy.

Posted by: larkspur | Apr 11, 2006 4:03:56 PM

Nice one, TJ.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Apr 11, 2006 4:13:34 PM

"There is no conspiracy to keep condoms from anyone. If you believe otherwise, then show us all some evidence."


Okay, technically it's only a conspiracy to prevent teenagers from knowing how to obtain and use condoms. But it took 30 seconds of work on Google...about as much as it took you to bluster about pharmacist's right to shame their customers.

Posted by: Kylroy | Apr 11, 2006 5:11:30 PM


You are objectively anti-customer:
1) You don't want unhappy consumers sharing their shopping experiences.
2) You don't want potential customers learning about the behavior of those about to receive (presumptively) their custom.

Posted by: TJ | Apr 11, 2006 5:55:26 PM

Still waiting for that evidence. All I have heard the sound of mouths shooting off.

Put up or shut up, please.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 11, 2006 6:35:11 PM

Roman Catholics do it

Malaysia does it

American politicians do it

American religious organizations do it

The original challenge was: There is no conspiracy to keep condoms from anyone. If you believe otherwise, then show us all some evidence.

This challenge has been met. Now shut the fuck up.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 11, 2006 6:56:04 PM

Must.....resist....urge...to find store....repeatedly push the buzzer and yell out,


Posted by: ssn764 | Apr 11, 2006 7:08:21 PM

Ezra, I have to ask, once you get to be a left-leaning blogger of a suitably sized readership, does someone (perhaps DHS. Hi guys!) assign you a 'Fred'? Do you have auditions or interviews? Is there a waiting list?

I ask because it seems like everyone has one, and only one and they largely write the same things.

Posted by: Pooh | Apr 11, 2006 9:24:47 PM

Didn't Fred really ask if there was any interest in sex : I'll ask somebody in advertising if that's interesting.
Yoo-hoo, Fred. Were you brought by the stork ?

Posted by: opit | Apr 12, 2006 3:43:28 AM

My God. It would appear Fred actually shut up when confronted with evidence he's wrong.

Now if only more conservatives would do the same thing...

Posted by: Kylroy | Apr 12, 2006 10:12:42 AM

This challenge has been met.

What a moron. The issue was pharmacies and NO, you have not given any evidence that they conspire to keep condoms away from anyone (dufus). Sevpehn are you just autistic or what?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 12, 2006 10:21:15 AM


Heh. I like that name for you.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 12, 2006 10:27:33 AM

I'm wondering why Fred doesn't think we have the right to complain about a private companies business practices? Yes, we could shop elsewhere. But that doesn't mean we can't complain about it. Public or private is irrelevant. We have the right to let private corps know how we feel.

Every movement needs a first step.

Posted by: Adrock | Apr 12, 2006 10:35:16 AM

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