Jan 31, 2008

[Philippines] Birth Control in a Catholic Country

Flickr: The Carmichael Family - TeamHannah
by The Carmichael Family.

More often than not, it turns out that I tend to follow international news more than local news, and thus in recent times I've been trying to make more of an effort to remain in-the-know when it comes to the local scene, albeit without buying a newspaper.

As I scanned the headlines today on Inquirer.net when I came across this headline:

CA asked to void EO 003 banning contraceptives

If you know me, then of course it comes as no real surprise to find out that I just had to click on the article.

So it turns out that twenty residents of the city of Manila have filed a petition with the Court of Appeals to overturn Executive Order 003 made by then Mayor Lito Atienza back in February 2000. The families filing the petition were predominantly from depressed areas and thus dancing around the poverty line in terms of income.

One of the petitioners cited that because of the order, the local Health Centers were no longer dispensing free contraceptives and this lead to her having 6 children over the years that this order has been in effect. As much as I want to laugh at a family blaming the government for them getting pregnant, I really can't because she actually has a point.

The Philippines remains to be a predominantly Catholic country in one way or another and even though we always say the the Church and the State are highly separate, that doesn't stop government officials from proposing laws or putting ordinances into effect based on religious beliefs instead of secular ones. This is a prime example of that behavior given how the Church frowns on the use of contraceptives and instead natural family planning and abstinence.

I can't blame the families entirely for being mad - birth control pills are one of the most effective ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies without denying couples their right to have sex with one another and apparently for husbands not to bother with condoms either,which remain pretty cheap still, albeit not as effective statistically speaking. At the same time though...six kids? Geez, someone has been busy over the years and has no idea how to time these things a little better. I may not be a big fan of the "rhythm method", but when left with no other alternative, you think they'd at least try that, right?

Regardless of all that, I sincerely hope the petition gets somewhere. They're trying to push fro a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the order while the case is being heard and I'm not sure if that's going to fly. As is the case with all legal proceedings in this country, it's bound to take a few years still before this case gets anywhere near a resolution and in the meantime, I assume these poor families will continue to, well, procreate. Boo on you Atienza!

1 comment:

  1. First, we are not a Catholic country; Catholics might have the numbers, that doesn't make our country Catholic, no? (Besides, would you want to live in one? I surely don't!)

    Second, the natural method has a spectacular failure rate. Just look at those people! Maybe you should try that, too. =P Kidding.

    Third, I talked with a law student about a related issue (that of a proposed ordinance in QC being opposed by the Catholic Church). His take is that as long as the State can prove that there is a compelling State interest, it can legislate and enforce laws that can contrary to one's religious beliefs. Taking that into consideration, I think the EO is unconstitutional. Atienza cannot prove any compelling State interest.

    This might be a small case, but for me it is a landmark one. Let's hope the CA sees it that way.

    Atienza - what a moralist. Hypocrite!