Bishops in Philippines back family planning

Posted: 23 February 2006

Protestant Bishops have taken a bold stand on artificial birth control, in sharp contrast with the policy of the Catholic Church.

The Council of Christian Bishops of the Philippines (CCBP), which is composed of Protestant Prelates with 20,000 churches nationwide, adopted that position after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) rejected the proposed Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act of 2005.

Bishop Fred Magbanua, CCBP president, said the Protestant Bishops support the policy allowing couples to choose when and how many children to have. The CCBP also endorses the use of birth control devices such as pills, condoms, injectables, IUD, permanent sterilisation or tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men.

He went on to say that by spacing the pregnancy, the mother's reproductive health is protected and the child in the womb will be healthier.

Pills and other forms of contraceptives "do not kill life because these do not destroy fertilized eggs. It is our position that when a woman uses pills or a man uses condom, it prevents fertilization. When egg is not fertilized, life has not begun. No life is taken away," Magbanua pointed out.

Abortion toll

House Deputy Minority Leader Gilbert Remulla of Cavite, one of the authors of House Bill 3773, cited the findings of a study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the University of the Philippines (UP) showing that 473,408 women undergo abortion annually.

"These are 473,408 babies getting killed every year, only because the government has not done its part to provide information and access to family planning methods," Remulla said. "We could have saved those babies. But we do not want more foetuses killed. So it is incumbent that we legislate national policy."

The Guttmacher-UP study, titled The Incidence of Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Current Level and Recent Trends, was conducted from 2002 to 2005. Researchers cited figures showing an increase in the incidents of abortion nationwide and a link between induced abortions and natural family planning.

Unmet need

According to the Guttmacher and UP study, although contraceptive use has increased from 40 per cent in 1993 to 47.8 per cent in 1998, unmet need for contraception still remains at a little over 50 per cent.

According to the Guttmacher-UP study, Filipino women who resorted to induced abortion could not access modern family planning because of the high cost of contraceptives; the social and psychological stigma attached to the methods of service; the devolution of health services to local government, which discourage or punish the use of modern family planning; the prejudice of the husband and misconceptions about modern family planning.

Source: Manila Standard/Push Journal, 22 February, 2006.

Related links:

Catholic Church opposes family planning in the Philippines

Baby boom goes on in the Philippines World Bank to help slow Philippines' population growth