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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Catechism on the Reproductive Health Bill by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Pablo

A Catechism on the Reproductive Health Bill
Prepared by the Commission on Family and Life
Diocese of San Pablo

What is the Catechism on the Reproductive Health Bill?

Many issues had been raised in the public square recently which put the Church in the negative light particularly on the overreaching issue of the proposed Reproductive Health Bill (H.B. No. 96) reintroduced in the present Congress with Representative Edcel C. Lagman as its principal author. We believe that most of the criticism leveled against the Church which included the bishops and the clergy in regard to their stand against the bill is based on unfounded and imagined fears and the lack of proper information and understanding of the nature of this measure that prompted the Church to opposed it.

This Catechism was prepared primarily for the lay faithful , the family and life ministries in the different parishes of the Diocese of San Pablo and the clergy to provide them an overview of the salient features of the bill that they may not be aware of, offend the teachings of the Church.

What is the purpose of this Catechism?

The Commission on Family and Life recognizes the urgent need to provide both the clergy and the lay faithful adequate information on the RHB issues and related concerns consistent with the perspective of the Church. With a correct notion and understanding of the crucial issues laid before them, they can hopefully be able to distill erroneous perceptions and discern deliberately distorted information designed to create a favorable view of the bill at the expense of truth.

What is the Reproductive Health Bill ?

The RH Bill purports, as its long title indicate to be “An Act Providing For a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population and Development, and for other Purposes.”

We believe it is nothing but a coercive birth control program masquerading as a reproductive health measure. It seeks a zero population growth rate to be achieved through a massive State-sponsored and publicly funded promotion and distribution of artificial birth control methods, such as contraception – barrier, pills most of which are abortifacients, techniques, and sterilization like vasectomy and tubal ligation.

How do we approach this Bill.

We must not take the bill at its face value. It is more important to know what the bill is not saying, more than what it says and go into the real spirit that animates it than just focus on the nice printed words. The bill is not what its authors say it is, it is everything the authors say it is not. Despite of its seemingly positive tenor (about fostering maternal health, breastfeeding, child care and nutrition) and advertised as pro-poor, we find the bill deeply flawed as being contrary to the Constitution and destructive of public morals and family values.

What is so wrong about the Bill that seeks to alleviate poverty targeting “the poorest of the poor and the marginalized” as its main beneficiaries.?

If it were a sincere and genuine anti-poverty measure, we will certainly support it. But its clear overriding objective is to depopulate the country through an aggressive and coercive artificial means of birth control, pursuing a mandatory sex education program both in private and public schools covering children from Grade 5 up to 4th year high school and spending millions of taxpayers money, most of whom are Catholics – like you to buy “hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe and effective family planning products and supplies” as essential medicines when pregnancy is not even a disease to be treated. These are intended to foster “a satisfying and safe sex life” thereby inciting promiscuity, courtesy of the Catholic taxpayers.

Why do you say that the bill violates to the Constitution ?

By seeking to depopulate the country through a Government-funded program of aggressive proliferation of contraceptives thereby fostering a contraceptive mentality to attain a “satisfying and safe sex life”, known as contraceptive sex and implementing a mandatory sex education in private and public schools covering Grade V to 4th year, it infringes the Constitutional mandate that provides : “The state recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.” (Sec 12 Art 11).

It usurps the parents’ “natural and primary right and duty” in the rearing of the youth” (Sec 12 Art ll).

By seeking to implement a massive distribution of contraception most of which are really abortifacients, it will put at great risk and endanger the health of both the mother and the unborn child . This is contrary to the Constitutional injunction “to protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception” (Sec. 12 Art ll).

By compelling healthcare providers to refer the person seeking RH services he believes to be immoral and against his conscience to another healthcare provider willing to do the service sought violates the Constitutional guarantee of “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession” (Sec. 5 Art 111).

Since it has been medically established that use of oral contraceptives and devices pose danger and harm to the health of women with its side effects some causing cervical cancer, breast cancer, and lately it was discovered also to cause liver cancer, not to mention that many popular pills are abortifacients preventing implantation of the zygote in the uterus causing the abortion of the unborn. This is directly opposed to the Constitutional mandate “that the State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products (Sec. 9 Art XV1)

Why is the Church against the Bill ?

First of all the bill is wrong not because the Church is opposing it, the Church is opposing it because it is wrong.

According to Pope Benedict XVl whenever the Church (and Catholics too ,for that matter) intervenes in the public square, its principal focus of such participation must be consistent with the three Fundamental Non-negotiable Principles, which are -

(i) the protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death,

(ii) the recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as a union between man and woman based on marriage, and

(iii) the protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.

All these three fundamental non-negotiable principles have been compromised, undermined and conveniently set aside in the bill to propel its single-minded agenda of aggressive contraception in an effort to depopulate the country of the “poorest of the poor and the marginalized’, which also spawns hedonistic lifestyle devoid of any moral sense.

This is the reason the Church is against it, among many other reasons.

The bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb, as it is a source of danger for the stability of the family and places the dignity of womanhood at great risk for which reason it is unacceptable to the Church ( cf CBCP Pastoral Statement on the RHB, Standing Up for the Gospel of Life, 2008).

By actively opposing the Bill, does not the Church violate the principle of separation of Church and State, and meddles in the political arena which is outside of its competence?

The Principle of Separation of Church and State simply means that no official state religion shall be established and the state shall not interfere in the affairs of the Church. No law bars the Church from participating in public activities nor to articulate a particular viewpoint, or forcefully advocate a specific stand in public policy issues. It is Church law or Canon law that prohibits individual members of the clergy from dipping his hands into active partisan politics.

“To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine oif the Church).

Thus, it is the prophetic duty of the Church consistent with its social doctrine to proclaim the Gospel into all the world, including the public square. As a moral voice of society its intervention in public action or discourse affecting human life, the dignity of the person, human rights, the protection of the family and marriage as an institution and the promotion of social justice is not to meddle but to uphold its role as a compass of faith and morals. Politics in a general sense means governance and involves action that may harm or benefit man and society. There is thus moral significance in governance and it is within the competence of the Church to make its voice heard even in the temporal order to ensure justice.

What is the social doctrine of the Church in relation to the RHB?

According to the social doctrine of the Church, the family founded on marriage is truly the sanctuary of life, and teaches that conjugal love is , by its nature open to the acceptance of life. Thus, concerning methods for practicing responsible procreation, the first to be rejected as morally illicit are sterilization and abortion…also to be rejected recourse to contraceptive methods in their different forms.

This rejection is based on the correct and integral understanding of the person and human sexuality and represents a moral call to defend the true development of people. (Sec. 233 Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church}

What is the moral issue in the RHB?

There are many moral issues involved in the bill.

For one, as a deadly instrument of birth control, the bill itself is an anti-life measure. It seeks to hinder life through its aggressive contraception program as a purported solution to poverty which definitely is not.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a consistent moral condemnation of contraception. From Pope Pius X1’s landmark encyclical Casti Connubii (1931) to Pope Paul Vl ’s controversial encyclical Humana Vitae (1968), down to Pope John Paul 11’s groundbreaking encyclical Evangelium Vitae , the Gospel of Life (1995) and most recent, Pope Benedict XV1’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate have consistently articulated the inviolability of life and dignity of the person that must be respected, preserved, defended, fostered and protected at all times.

Thus, it is the constant teaching of the Church that -

“ any attempt on the part of the married people to deprive this act of its inherent force to impede the creation of new life, either in the performance of the act itself, or in, spermatocides, coitus interruptus, condoms, diaphragm, IUD, and abortion. All of these prevent the creation of new life, or in case of abortion, to snuff it at its earliest stage."

The bill is also anti-love. Contraceptive sex separates the unitive from the procreative purpose of marriage and falsifies the mutual self-donation that should occur during the conjugal act. It becomes an expression only of pure physical pleasure and makes the woman its mere object.

Under the bill, the government will encourage a mass-based contraceptive sex spawning a contraceptive mentality among the populace. This in turn will cultivate a promiscuous and hedonistic lifestyle that eventually assaults the sanctity of marriage and the stability of family life. Consequently, it will lead to the path of a nation-wide moral degradation and the corruption of Filipino values.

The proponents of the bill say the country is alarmingly populous and the staggering rise of population must be stopped to alleviate creeping poverty.

The Malthusian myth of overpopulation so sacred to the RHB proponents has long been discredited and proven to be wrong. It’s a hoax that continues to be peddled by the remnants of Malthus and its apostles in the Philippine Congress to advance their anti-natalist agenda, principally the passage of this bill.

The United Nations Population Development figures indicate that as early as 2007 the Philippines Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is already dangerously low. In the 1970s, the average Filipino woman had six children, today she will have around three. And in another 20 years, only two. In about 2020, RP TFR will sink below its replacement level of around 2.29. (cf World Population Collapse, Lessons for the Philippines, by Rev. Fr. Gregory D. Gaston, STD). TFR refers to the average number of children a woman will bear over her lifetime of reproduction. A TFR of at least 2.1 children per woman is needed to replace a country’s population.

Fact is, there is no overpopulation in the Philippines and population is not the cause of poverty . It is bad governance, inappropriate and poorly implemented economic policies leading to poor tax collections, corruption and lack of agriculture infrastructure cause poverty.

Our population of more than 90 million people helped the country to still post a positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in the crisis year of 2009 due to our large domestic market which partly compensated for the big decline in exports (Guide to Economics for Filipinos 7th ed. by Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Sinagtala, 2010).

What is the NSSM 200 and how is it related to the RHB?

The National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200, was a top-secret report (believed to be drafted by Secretary of State Henry Kissenger) compiled by the National Security Council in 1974 entitled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for the U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.” It states that population growth in the developing world threatens U.S. security because nations with growing populations will yield significant political power and influence, that the U.S. and its Allies have a vital interest in strategic materials which have to be extracted from developing countries, and a large population growth in relatively disadvantaged nations jeopardizes U.S. investments.

It recommended an aggressive population control program –all-out abortion, contraception, sterilization in countries with growing population in exchange for attractive financial assistance package and other funding programs coursed through the UN agencies, the World Bank, and private foundations of giant multinational corporations as fronts.

Part of the strategy is to convince heads of government of these countries to adopt population policies against their own people and US diplomats have been directed “to be alert to opportunities for expanding our assistance efforts and for demonstrating to their leaders the consequences of rapid population growth and the benefits of actions to reduced fertility.” The NSSM-200 was assailed in the Bucharest Population Conference of l974 by both Latin American and East European nations including the Holy See.

NSSM-200 technically however, remains in place as the US policy in population, only the guidelines may differ from one administration to another.

The report identified 13 countries of “special US political and strategic interest” that have been targeted for population control –India, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, the PHILIPPINES, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, Ethiopia and Colombia.

It is clear that the RHB proponents taking direction from a foreign power are merely adhering to the U.S. global agenda on population reduction in 3rd world countries which includes the Philippines.

This is why for so many years the proponents have been attempting to pass a birth control program deodorized as reproductive health bill.

Is the RHB an arena for the Church vs. State showdown?

This is what the proponents of RHB want to create, the impression that it is the Church – through its Cardinals, Bishops and the Clergy who are opposed to the bill. They forget that the Church they refer to, is made up in the overwhelming majority of lay people – the plain and ordinary citizens, ‘ang mamamayan’, ‘ ang taong-bayan’ whom P-noy calls ‘ang boss ko’.

Thus, when the Church speaks, it echoes “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties” of the people, ”especially those who are poor or in anyway afflicted” (Gaudium et Spes, The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World).

Fact is a broad sector of the people – Catholics, Evangelicals, Christians, Muslims and non-Christian , men of goodwill are opposed to it also, they are not only as noisy. Many others will certainly opposed it too if only they are made aware of the true nature of the bill.

How about the surveys, according to them the SWS survey shows most of the people want the RHB.

There was a public opinion survey taken many years ago and the people were asked to choose who they want to be set free - a falsely accused carpenter or a condemned murderer. The survey shows an overwhelming number of them chose the murderer over the carpenter! What is morally right cannot be based on the weight of public opinion. A wrong is still wrong no matter whether every one else believed otherwise.
In the case of the SWS survey, it was found out the the questions were loaded such that it will elicit a favored answer.Do you want maternal health services to be accessible? Who would say no to this.

Is Contraception legal in the country?

Contraception and use of all kinds of contraceptive means and devices have always been legal in the Philippines. There is no law that bans its sale, distribution or consumption or use. In fact, right now, any one can go to any store and buy condoms and other devices are readily accessible , specially in many public health centers. As it is, its proliferation is already a factual reality and no RH measure is even necessary for the purpose. The RHB is therefore unnecessary. (NB: This is inaccurate, as the Ayala Alabang ordinance demonstrated. There are still legal restrictions on contraceptives in this country.)

Why do you say that the RHB is anti-poor.

The seemingly positive tenor of the bill and its apparently pro-poor provisions are but pure lip-service to sanitize it of its real eugenic content. Its deceptive and patronizing rhetorics all the more insults the poor.

In providing for an aggressive contraception measures primarily targeting the poor and the marginalized, it consequently seeks, over time their eventual elimination so that only the few rich will enjoy the fruits of the earth. The poorest of the poor are, after all, according to RHB authors, the principal beneficiaries of the bill.

Margaret Sanger, the leading icon of American birth control movement could not have stated it more clearly when she said: “More children from the fit, less children for the unfit, this is the goal of birth control.”

The bill is presented as the final solution to Philippine poverty and inaugurates the first phase of the Population Extermination Program for the Poorest of the Poor and the Marginalized pursuant to the reproductive health ‘law’.

Phase 2, is still to come – Abortion of the Filipino race!

What specific provisions of the RHB are objectionable?

The requirement for a mandatory RH and Sexuality education from Grade V to 4th year high school in public and private schools which includes “the use and application of natural and modern family planning methods” and “RH health and sexual rights (Sec. 13 RHB 96) This is a coercive provision and undermines the parents primary right to educate their children. This also infringe on the Principle of Subsidiarity.

It seeks to penalize those who will speak against the RH law by way of “malicious disinformation” (Sec. 22 RHB 96). Who determines what is malicious or not. This is oppressive and offends the Constitutional guarantee of free speech

It proposes two children per family as an ideal size (Sec. 17 RHB 96). A backward step in the light of recent demographic reality of aging populations of many countries including neighboring Singapore, South Korea, Japan who had a two-child policy before. It is doubtful if they can reverse their fast declining people.

The bill compels employers with at least 200 employees to provide them free RH services, supplies (e.g. condoms, pills, IUDs), surgical procedure (e.g. tubal ligation and vasectomy), under threat of imprisonment or fine or both for failure to so provide them (Sec 18 and 22 RHB 96). Why should it be the burden of the employer if his security guard is going to a date and pay for his condom.

Tubal ligation and vasectomy are forms of mutilation and is offensive to the Principle of Totality in Bioethics.

The bill classifies contraceptives such as pills, IUDs, injectables, condoms, as essential medicines where billions of pesos of public funds will be used for its purchase (Sec. 9 RHB 96). Pregnancy is not a disease to be treated or Fertility a kind of malady. Why not spend the money for improvement of hospitals, real medicines, schoolbulding or salaries of government doctors and nurses.

Only the multinational drug companies will benefit here.

The bill violates the healthcare provider’s conscience by compelling him to refer a person seeking RH services he believes to be immoral to another healthcare provider under penalty for failure to make the referral ( Sec 22 a{3} RHB 96)

The bill compels the healthcare service provider, whether private or public to perform reproductive health procedures (e.g. tubal ligation and vasectomy) on a person of legal age or, if married person even without the consent of the other spouse. (Sec 22 a{2} RHB 96)

Is it true that the bill if enacted will prevent resort to abortion according to its proponents?

On the contrary, in fact the bill uses the term “reproductive rights” which is used in many other context as inclusive of abortion. Hilary Clinton admitted that “reproductive health” encompasses abortion. Every country that went on the contraceptive mode ended up in abortion.

Malcolm Potts, former medical director of the International Planned Prenthood Federation said in 1973 : “As people turn to contraception. There will be a rise, not a fall in the abortion rate.”

Since most artificial means of birth control have high failure rates, resort to abortion is most likely to be the alternative. Contraception is the slippery slope to Abortion.

Can one claim to be an authentic Catholic at the same time embrace and support beliefs contrary to the teaching of the Church?

Unity is one of the four marks of the Catholic Church and such unity is also assured by the “visible bonds of communion: the profession of faith received from the apostles..” (CCC 815). Hence, Pope John Paul ll exhorts:

“No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel.” VS 26).

In sanctioning a so-called Catholic group in the U.S. aggressively supporting abortion, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference in a definitive statement said that “because of its purposes and activities deliberately contradict essential teaching of the Catholic faith, the Catholics for a Free Choice merits no recognition or support as Catholic organization .”

How are Catholics faithful to the teachings of the Church stand in the RHB issue.

All well-meaning people, especially Catholics should reject, opposed and resist this RHB as an anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, anti-life measure . The late Cardinal Jaime Sin in his Pastoral Letter “Subtle Attacks Against Family and Life” (2001) gave this advice:

“To all of us, please pray that the culture of love and life will truly overcome the culture of death. This battle does not merely touch the human or society. It is the father of all lies rebelling against the Author of Life.”

The good Cardinal exhorts to intensify “our efforts to study Church teachings on the family” -

TO the teachers, chers and educators to study the impact of these issues on the people;

To our legislators and policymakers, to enact laws to protect family and life;

To lay and civic organizations, to plan and coordinate efforts to disseminate as much information on these issues. organize seminars, and professionalize efforts to protect and strengthen the family;

To fathers and mothers not to forget that the family is the first and last line of defense against the ills that could affect the individual’s character;

To our youth, to discover the beauty and grandeur of the vocation of love and the service of love, and

To priests and religious, continue guiding the flock though your example and to strengthen their spiritual, doctrinal and apostolic formation.

1 comment:

  1. ” …and would like to value

    the quality of life

    you can give to a child

    that considering

    the quantity”

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