More effective options

Anthony Chua

Despite the fact that the Philippines holds the highest population growth rate record Southeast Asia, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo still sides with the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in upholding natural methods of family planning and in condemnation of using of artificial contraceptive methods.

Last week, Arroyo met with CBCP to consolidate their stand against the reproductive health care bills pending at both chambers of Congress. They maintain the Catholic Church’s stand on slamming the use of artificial contraceptives such as vasectomy and tubal ligation. CBCP deems those who use artificial contraceptives as sinners of the same level as those who commit abortion. Ozamiz Archbishop Jesus Dosado, in his pastoral letter, even ordered priests to refuse giving communion to “pro-abortion” legislators.

On the other hand, advocates of reproductive health care bill considered Dosado’s letter “very misleading.” Supporters of the bill stated their unified stance against abortion. Moreover, artificial contraceptives can even improve the reproductive health of women and reduce abortions, which are rampantly committed by Catholics despite the Church’s pro-life, no-to-artificial contraceptives principle.

Majority of Filipinos are self-confessed devout Catholics. We even take pride in saying that we are the only nation which is predominantly Catholic in Asia. Our laws and state principles are largely influenced by Catholic doctrines. But despite the church’s steadfast advocacy of natural contraceptive methods for decades, the glaring and undeniable truth is unwanted pregnancies are still on the rise and abortions, though illegal and immoral, are rampant. What’s worse, the effects stemming from family mis-planning, such as broken homes, illiteracy of children and poverty are also getting worse every year that almost render the church’s recommended method of contraception ineffective.

To add injury to insult, it is the poor Filipinos, those more prone to abortion, who are more fecund. In a study, mothers who belong to the top 20 percent of the population in terms of income, on the average, bears only two children, while in the lower 20 percent, it’s five. In a life full of problems and oppression, they simply can’t resist the enjoyment and pleasure that sex brings.

Family planning is then needed to curb the rising costs and problems of unwanted pregnancies and abortions that would destroy more families and lives. But given the contraceptive method that is supported by the state and the church at present, can both the government and the Catholic Church say that they are making progress in their fight towards abortion and in preserving the sanctity of life?

The Filipino people have the right to be given better options for their own good.

On the other hand, the government, in its obligation to save the worsening condition of its people and by using its democratic prerogative, should stand on its own feet in teaching effective family planning methods for impoverished couples.

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