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The Catholic church is becoming a danger to a public health in the Phillipines

The church campaign against reproductive health bill and blackmail of politicians

Sunday 20 July 2008, by siawi

[There are three separate articles posted below cleearly indicate how currently the Phillipino catholic church is undermining womens reproductive rights and intimidating democratically elected people’s representatives]

- 1. Church’s hardline stance vs contraceptives killing women
- 2. Philippine bishops say they’ll deny communion for politicians who back abortion rights
- 3. PLCPD condemns bishops’ threat against politicians supporting reproductive health bill


Church’s hardline stance vs contraceptives killing women

by Kristine L. Alave
(Published in: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 July 2008)

MANILA, Philippines — The Catholic Church’s stance against contraceptives has been a “huge disservice” to women and denying communion to politicians whom the Church perceived to be pro-abortion would not solve maternal deaths, reproductive rights and women’s groups said on Monday.

The Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), a consortium of more than 20 women’s and health groups, said Ozamiz Archbishop Jesus Dosado’s stance not to give communion to politicians whom he considered as supportive of abortion was “very misleading.”

Beth Angsioco, RHAN secretary general, said the bishop’s statement, which was given a few days after the Church launched a campaign against reproductive health bills in Congress, seemed to equate reproductive health rights with abortion.

“Abortion is not reproductive health,” she said. “I don’t know if the bishop has read the reproductive health bills ... Abortion remains illegal and punishable in the Philippines,” she said.

The Catholic Church recently reiterated its stand against contraceptives and surgical interventions like tubal ligation and vasectomy.

The Church considers these measures “anti-life” and immoral, like abortion, which the Philippine government does not support.

Last week, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines met with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stress their opposition against reproductive health bills in Congress.

Angsioco said the Church was making a huge disservice to women by equating abortion with access to reproductive health.

Citing data from the United Nations, Angsioco said 10 women in the Philippines have been dying daily because of pregnancy complications arising from lack of maternal and natal care before, during, and after pregnancy.

“It is a huge disservice not only to women but particularly to the poor. Those who can afford contraceptives can buy, but those who are poor are really affected,” she said.

While it has expressed support for the use of contraceptives, the national government does not buy it for distribution to public health facilities, preferring instead to let local governments and international donors provide it.

“We are closing our eyes, the Church is closing its eyes to the fact that women are massacred,” she said.

The reproductive health bills in the House of Representatives would not legalize abortion, the RHAN official pointed out.

The bills seek to provide women with wider access to all kinds of family planning methods and a national reproductive health policy, according to Angsioco.

“It sets a national policy. It will no longer be dependent on local governments or the position of the President or chief executives,” she said.

Gabriela, a women’s party-list group, said Dosado’s call would not solve the problems facing women who lacked proper access to health and maternal care.

Instead of castigating pro-abortion politicians, the Church should take concrete initiatives that would help pregnant women and their families, Joms Salvador, Gabriela spokeswoman, said.

“We understand the concerns of the Church. We are also concerned about mothers’ health. The proposal to deny politicians communion will not solve the deep reasons why women undergo abortion,” she said.

She noted that some women chose abortion because they could not afford another child or they were raped. The current climate in which women could not have easy access to reproductive health care, has been making it difficult for mothers to make informed decisions, she added.

“There is a need to root out the causes of abortion. We challenge the Church to sit down with groups like us and interested parties to discuss the issue,” Salvador said.

In all the infighting between legislators who have proposed population management laws and the Catholic Church, women have been losing, Salvador said. “The women are burdened. They have needs and concerns,” she said.

Copyright 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer.


Philippine bishops say they’ll deny communion for politicians who back abortion rights

The Associated Press
(Published in: The International Herald Tribune, July 15, 2008)

MANILA, Philippines: A top Roman Catholic bishop in the Philippines on Tuesday backed action to deny Holy Communion to any politician who would support legalization of abortion, ramping up a rancorous debate on family planning.

No major Catholic politicians openly back legalizing abortion in the conservative Catholic country, but many support moves to increase sex education in schools and promote family planning methods that would include contraceptives — which are forbidden by the church.

Angel Lagdameo, president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Archbishop Jesus Dosado was right to order priests in his southern diocese of Ozamiz city to deny communion to Catholic politicians who would “consistently campaign for permissive abortion measures,” thus denying them full church rites.

The unprecedented step, which so far covers only Dosado’s diocese, comes as the bishops mobilize forces to campaign against birth control proposals pending in the Congress.

Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, where critics accuse President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of contributing to the burgeoning population and crushing poverty by following the church’s policy of emphasizing natural family planning methods.

“It may sound very controversial, but I feel that the bishop is only acting according to canon law,” Lagdameo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday, referring to the rules that govern Catholics worldwide on abortion.

Lagdameo said he would issue a similar statement on denying communion to abortion rights advocates in his central Jaro archdiocese.

House Rep. Edcel Lagman, the main proponent of a family planning bill pending in Congress, said Dosado’s move was “completely without basis” because no lawmaker has advocated the legalization of abortion.

His bill and others include a provision for “mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education” in primary schools, which some of the bishops have frowned upon in the past.

Former President Fidel Ramos, the only Protestant elected to the highest office, chided Arroyo last week for not having a comprehensive family planning policy due to “unwarranted subservience to the Catholic church.”

He said “mothers’ lives and health, together with their babies, are now being put at risk for political expediency and religious narrow-mindedness.”

About 473,000 abortions, or one third of the estimated 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies, still occur in the Philippines yearly, while two out of five women who want to use contraceptives don’t have access to them, the U.N. Population Fund has said.

The country’s population has been growing by more than 2 percent per year and is projected to reach 90 million this year.

Arroyo spokesman Anthony Golez said the government’s population policy program is founded on four pillars of “responsible parenthood” — respect for life, informed consent regarding family planning, responsible parenting and spacing out births in a family.


PIA Press Release

PLCPD condemns bishops’ threat against politicians supporting reproductive health bill

Davao City (17 July) — The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) is appalled with the statement of the bishops not to give communion to politicians that have consistently supported the Reproductive Health and Population Management bills in Congress.

In a pastoral letter issued by Ozamis Archbishop Jesus Dosado, he said that politicians supporting the RH bill must be refused communion because the bill promotes “permissive abortion”.

The PLCPD statement follows:

The issue of the RH bill promoting abortion has long been clarified. Nowhere in the proposed reproductive health bill does it state that abortion is allowed. In fact, Section 3 of the Committee on Health-approved substitute bill states that: While nothing in this Act changes the law on abortion, as abortion remains a crime and is punishable, the government shall ensure that women seeking care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner.

We are disgusted with how some bishops continue to display irresponsible behavior of spreading disinformation on the bill, refusing to take it for its real intentions and choosing instead to demonize it; to look for ghosts that are not there. We look at bishops as symbols of truth and morality. And yet, they themselves propagate blatant lies to instill fear both among policymakers and the public. This behooves us to wonder, what are the real reasons behind the Church’s very antagonistic position towards the bills? Whatever they are, it is certain that saving lives is not among them.

More than anything, PLCPD and the other pro-quality of life advocates pushing for these bills have been consistent in the argument that the proposed reproductive health and population management bills primarily seek to respond to the ever-increasing pregnancy and birth-related deaths of women.

The Philippines has one of the highest maternal mortality rates (MMR) in the Southeast Asian Region with 10 mothers dying everyday, leaving more than 30 children motherless (UNFPA 2006).

Goal 5 of the Millennium Development Goal envisions a reduction in MMR by 75% from 1990 to 2015, along with the increasing access to reproductive health by 2015. However, the country’s progress in this area has been very slow, with MMR declining by only about 22% in 13 years.

Given this trend, there is little likelihood of it reaching the 2015 target of 52 (UNFPA 2006). This already bleak scenario is made even worse by the government’s refusal to promote the provision of the full range of reproductive health care services to the people. The Philippines has commited to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015-a commitment reiterated by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself during the 2005 World Summit in New York. This behooves us to wonder, are all these commitments mere hypocritical grandstanding done at the expense of the lives of thousands of our women and children?

The arrogance of certain Catholic church leaders has made them blind to the plight of the masses suffering to survive daily because of the food and economic crisis that is hitting large families the hardest-a plight brought about by a confluence of factors, among which, reproductive health care and population management are among the most critical. The bishops’ attempts to block the bills’ passage through political blackmail, dangling the Holy Eucharist in the faces of supportive legislators, are full of contradictions and hypocrisy, with only poor women, children, and families at the losing end of the deal. This behooves us to wonder, isn’t that the greater sin?

We therefore plead, on behalf of the majority of ordinary Filipinos, for the Catholic Church leaders to stop their political blackmail. The legislators are doing their avowed task of creating policies that respond to the real needs of the people. We hope that the Church leaders would do the same. We cannot afford to merely oppose measures and not offer real, practical, humane, and responsive solutions. Not when thousands of lives are at stake.