If we believe on what the Roman Catholic church on Thursday that it has sufficient support in the Philippine congress to defeat a “controversial family planning bill promoting sex education and the use of contraceptives” then we expect chaos brought about by unabated increase of population in the country.
The bishops according to Maria Fenny Tatad, executive director of the church lobby group Bishops-Legislators Caucus of the Philippines, believe they have a number of congressmen in the House of Representatives who could block the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Act. Out of the 238 members of the House of Representatives only 99 congressmen do support the bill.
Only 99 members of the 238-member House of Representatives have openly said they will support the Reproductive Health Care Act, while the rest are expected to side with the church, Tatad said. Population control is a highly politicized issue in the Philippines, where more than 80 percent of the 90 million population are Catholics.
I am not sure how true is this claim but the Catholic church in the Philippines “wields considerable public influence, frowns on any artificial form of birth control and has been waging a high-profile campaign to block the passage of the bill, which is now before congress,” as circulated in the news. However recent surveys showed that most Catholics are in favor of family planning and sex education to be taught in the public school. What is the Catholic church trying to imply with this statement? Are the bishops giving the public the impression that the Catholic church maintains a strong influence in the House of Representatives? I don’t think the Catholic church has that control anymore on the people in so far as population issues are concerned. It is highly improbable for the Catholic church to make one politician lose during the next election just because he supported the Reproductive Health Bill. I still believe people vote with their conscience not on what the church says. So there is no basis of that fear for congressmen losing because the priests control the minds of their parishioners.
Philippine Population Commission has always mentained the importance of curbing incidence of birth so as not to overpopulate the country. The Philippine population growth rate of 2.04 according to International aid agencies and economists is one of of Asia’s highest. But the Catholic church is against these International agencies supporting the Reproductive Health Bill that will curb rapid population growth but insures the health of women on reproductive ages.
Contrary to what the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life say, the Reproductive Health Bill which includes family planning program, sex education, and advice on birth control, may not necessarily immoral. It only enhances people perspectives on reproductive health and propagate values on responsible parenthood. Liberal minded people these days may understand which is socially appropriate without necessarily being “immoral.”