Tag Archives: Reproductive Health

Condoms and the Presidential Election

This is the news, “Women activists present condoms to Philippine bishops.” What’s new? The Philippine Catholic bishops have been waging a bitter war with the government against the use of contraceptives. The Catholic church has never been weakened with its stiff stand against Family Planning and the use of artificial methods of birth control.

The Philippine Catholic Bishops have always been critical of any administration or political parties that support birth control and family planning. In fact presidential aspirants in the like of Senator Noynoy Aquino have been very careful with their stand with regards to population issues. The Bishop can always call on the Catholic faithful some 75 millions out of the 90 to 100 million Filipinos not to vote for any candidate who supports the family planning program of the government. One of the important criteria the good Bishops are looking to any politician vying for an elective position in the government is his policies and stand on the issues of family planning and birth control.

Even if President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo knows the significance of high birth rate in combating poverty problems in the Philippines, having been once a DSWD secretary, she tends to be careful with its population management program so as not to provoke the ire of the already critical Clergies to her administration. The bishops also took advantage of the government soft stand on Family Planning and birth control by calling for a ban on the advertisement of condom however the Arroyo’s administration only shrugged off their demands.

As if trying to maim the bishops stiff opposition on birth control and contraceptives, here comes Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral (former DSWD Secretary) “handing out condoms on February 13 as part of an information campaign on HIV-AIDS.” Her action may not necessarily be the collective stand of the government but nobody in the bureaucracy stood up to sanction her. She had not violated any law, she just exercised her political independence to promote actions responsive for the health and general welfare of the entire population. Yet the Bishops angrily called for her to resign.

But Health Secretary Cabral found allies on women’s health and rights advocate groups like the Party of the Workers who picketed and presented two baskest full of condoms at the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops Conference.

Judy Ann Miranda, the party’s secretary-general asked the bishops to “bless the condoms as a conciliatory gesture to unite for reproductive health and women’s rights” but unfortunately no bishop was around to receive/bless it.

As a response to the women activists action the bishops said, through spokesman Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, that they could not compromise on the church’s opposition to birth control devices. Again, a manifestation of the unwavering Catholic dogma on contraceptive devices which are perceived to tamper with the flow of nature and life. They the bishops however have no specific response on how to promote women’s reproductive health and quality of life.

“If contraceptives are immoral, nothing can change that… not even the vote of the whole country can change that,” Quitorio said. But should he not consider also immoral to see the health of women deteriorate just because couples are denied on the used of contraceptive devices. I think there is nothing more immoral than allowing spread of diseases and overpopulating the limited space we have in this country just because we can not control our rapid population growth.

And going back to politics, is the issue on contraceptives a leverage for a politician to improve his chances of winning in the presidential race? Will the good bishops support senator Manny Villar if he makes a covenant with the Catholic Church in the Philippines never to support legislative measures that advocate the use of contraceptives and other birth control devices? What will happen to the leading presidential candidate on surveys now should he decide to go against the bishops on their resistance to contraceptives and population control programs of the government?

So there we go, peace on earth and condom to all!

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Filed under Community life, democracy, education, Philippine government, Religion, Religion and sexual behavior, Reproductive Health, social justice, Wealth, Poverty, women

Majority of Filipino Catholics Support the Reproductive Health Bill

You may agree or disagree with me but news indicate that majority of the Filipinos are now supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and a law that promotes the reproductive health of women based on the result of the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Stations where 71 percent favor the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, and 76 percent are in favor of teaching sex education and family planning in public schools. 

The News: (From ABS-CBN news on line) 

Majority of Filipinos are in favor of  Reproductive Health Bill and Sex Education in Public Schools

Seventy-six percent of adult Filipinos want family planning education in the public schools while 71 percent favor passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, a survey by research firm Social Weather Stations said Thursday.  

In the survey conducted last September 24 to 27, 76 percent of 1,500 respondents agreed to the test statement “There should be a law that requires government to teach family planning to the youth” while 10 percent disagreed.  

Support for family planning education is high in all areas: agreement is 78% in Balance Luzon, 77% in the Visayas, 76% in Metro Manila, and 72% in Mindanao. It is also high across socioeconomic classes: 78% in class ABC, 78% in class D, and 71% among class E. 

Sex education in classrooms is one of the issues opposed by hardline Catholics in the proposed RH Bill. Under the proposed measure, sex education will be taught to students from Grade 5 to fourth year high school.  

The survey, however, showed overwhelming support to teaching sex education to classrooms with three out of four men (75%) and women (77%) supporting a law requiring family planning education for the youth. The support is equally high among singles and marrieds.  

It also showed 76 percent of Catholics and 78 percent of non-Catholics supporting sex education for the youth, regardless of frequency of church-going, and regardless of trust in the Catholic church. 

Faculty Members of a Catholic School Support Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043) 

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.” 

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said. 

Reaction:

It appears, as shown by the survey, that majority of the Filipinos are in favor of Reproductive Health Bill and the teaching of Sex Education in the public schools. What is surprising here is the number of respondents Catholics (76 percent), and Non-Catholics (78 percent) among the Filipinos supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and promoting the reproductive health of women. There is one reason for this in my own opinion, poverty and the worsening world economic crisis. Besides, people are getting more practical these days. You may not agree with me but gone are the days when the church could dictate anything it wants to its believers. 

Take the case of 14 faculty members from Ateneo de Manila, a Catholic school, who are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the passage of the controversial reproductive health bill. In their “16-page position” paper they countered the Church opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill “quoting from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty.” One faculty unfortunately belongs to the Department of Theology. 

Does this show a crack in the position of the church against reproductive health bill? Of course those who support the position of the church may say no. And the debate continues even if majority of the Filipinos are now seeing more on the practical advantage of the bill.

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