Subscribe to SIAWI content updates by Email
Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Philippines: Catholic fundamentalism’s impact on Reproductive (...)

Philippines: Catholic fundamentalism’s impact on Reproductive Health

Friday 3 November 2017, by siawi3


Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Philippines

National Report on Building New Constituencies for Women’s SRHR: Interlinkages Between Religion and SRHR


Executive Summary

The Catholic Church has established and sustained
significant power over Philippine politics and society in the
past—through Spanish rule from the 16 century towards
the end of the 19 century, and in 1986 and 2001 during the
ouster of two Presidents—until the present as manifested
in the country’s moral values, way of life and behavior in
social and public activities. Conservative Catholic teachings
instilled into state policies and governance deprive the
enjoyment of basic human rights. The Philippines, in effect,
remains a Catholic state in practice despite being a secular
state by proclamation.
This report focuses on both Catholic Fundamentalism and
its opposition to sexual and reproductive health (SRH)
policies, especially the Reproductive Health (RH) Law,
and the alternative and more liberal views of Catholic
Progressives, including their strongest purveyors. Catholic
Fundamentalism is defined as the use of the Catholic
Church’s political power to impose on and inject Catholic
doctrines into state policies and governance. This report
is the result of a research on the Catholic Church’s official
teachings related to RH and rights and its personages/
blocs; assessments of their impact on RH policies,
especially the RH Bill and Law, the Supreme Court decision
on the Law and its implications; and interviews with various
pro-RH expert practitioners in their respective sector,
including a Muslim academic who provided a counterpoint
to the Catholic views.
Fundamentalist Catholic teachings, believed to be
immutable and universal, limit a woman’s role to
motherhood and family; confine sexual intimacy only to
marriage and to result only in procreation; and subject
young people to their parents’ decisions. Progressive
Catholic views, marked as more flexible and liberal, challenge these beliefs and even cite equally authoritative
teachings as references. While fundamentalist Catholics
assert that teachings on RH are evil, more than a hundred
respected Catholic university faculty members, among
others, affirmed that Catholics could support RH in good
conscience. Similar statements of support to the Bill came
out from groups in other Catholic schools. Contrary to
Fundamentalist Catholics ensuring obedience to the “natural
law” as a Catholic duty, Progressive Catholics are exercising
dissent, which is included in the Catechism (doctrinal
manuals) of the Catholic Church and is deemed allowed on
non-infallible papal teachings, such as contraception and
homosexuality. Catholic moral theology advises that in a
disputed moral issue, a Catholic may, in good conscience,
follow a position, even though it is espoused only by
a minority of reputable moral theologians (concept of

Public health policies are affected by fundamentalist
Catholic teachings, such as the 1987 Constitution which
enshrines the protection of the unborn from the moment
of conception and also declares the separation of Church
and State; the Natural Family Planning Only policy and
banning of the emergency pill, Postinor, by the Department
of Health under President Arroyo’s administration; the
banning of artificial contraceptives and condoms from
2000 to 2011 by local government officials in the executive
and legislative branches based on “Pro-Life” values and
teachings; and the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling on the “Pro-
Life” challenge to the RH Law which altered the Law further
to restrict contraceptive services to adolescents, allow the
requirement of spousal consent and expand the meaning of
“abortifacient” and “conscientious objection.”
Catholic fundamentalist teachings negatively affected
women and their families through the denial of RH
information, commodities, and services—particularly family
planning, condoms, post-abortion care, and safe abortion.

Read the full report Here