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Population, Reproductive Health and the Anti-Life

Having read my class article, ‘Transitions in World Population’[1], I cannot help but think of the current situation of my country, the Philippines. We have the highest population growth rate in the South East Asian Region at 1.9%[2]. Most of the neighbouring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia, to name a few, have access to family planning and contraceptives. In my country, however, the Reproductive Health Bill has been debated on for more than a decade. None of the past presidents supported it. Fortunately, the current President Aquino is sympathetic to this area of women’s rights; but this does not automatically translates to the passage of bill for it to become a law.

There are only two main obstacles of why there is a continuing delay of the passage of the bill: (1) the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP); and (2) the law-makers who adhere to their conservative Catholic view on reproductive health. The CBCP is a powerful force in my country. In most cases, the words coming from this group is considered a dogma. On the other hand, the law-makers who are conservative Catholics adhere to the view of the CBCP.

I do not want to belabour all the details of why the CBCP is against the reproductive health. But let me summarise their viewpoint.
1. Reproductive Health is anti-life. The CBCP overlooked other things in the bill including maternal health and childcare and other public health services. It only points to 2 things: contraceptive and sex education.
2. Contraceptives are dangerous to women’s health.
3. Contraceptive is abortion. Abortion is killing and should be treated as a sin both morally and legally.
4. The Bible said, “Go forth and multiply.” Going against this is going against God.
5. Reproductive health is anti-Filipino. Reproductive Health is foreign, White and Western. (As if Catholicism is indigenous).
6. Reproductive health is double-standard: It encourages wealthy people to have more children but prohibits poor people to have more.
7. Reproductive health that includes sex education promotes promiscuity especially to young people. This, in turn, ruins the sanctity of the family.

The CBCP and the law-makers who oppose the passage of the bill ignore the fact that maternal mortality in the country is 221 per 100,000 live births.[3] They also disregard that there is an alarming increase of teen-age pregnancy and self-induced abortion cases simply because there is no proper access to maternal health services.

Going back to the reading, while it seems so simplistic to say that the more develop you become the fewer children you will have it actually has a co-relation. I believe that when women go to school and have decent work, they will more likely to have gaps in giving birth to children. A lot of people who have no permanent work are the ones who have more children simply because they have nothing else to do.

Pro-RH Bill advocates like are being accused of anti-life, which is totally misleading. I have nothing against population. I am wary of its quality. I watched some news on tv where parents of poor families were interviewed and asked why they have so many children that they can’t even afford to raise. Their answers lead to two main reasons: (1) One of their children might become the President of the Philippines and their lives would be better; (2) Children are God’s gift: the more children, the more gifts.

Human beings are a great resource of labour, of energy and other things. However, we also have to consider their health. Are they healthy enough to be able to think and work? Do we consider hunger and sickness as pro-life?

The common goal of reproductive health as it is in the population policies is to “improve the quality of life.”[4]

1.Kent, Mark (Ed). “Transitions in World Population” Population Bulletin, 59 no.1. (Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2004)
2. “Philippines Population Growth Rate” Index Mundi (http://www.indexmundi.com/philippines/population_growth_rate.html)
3. Alave, Kristine. “Maternal mortality rose in 2011, says DOH” Inquirer News. (Manila: PDI, 18 June 2012)
4. Kent, Mark (Ed). “Transitions in World Population” Population Bulletin, 59 no.1. (Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2004: p4)

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