First posted 02:54:31 (Mla time) September 26, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—It was difficult to miss the ad put out by the Couples for Christ (CfC) summarizing in bullet points what it deemed the most objectionable portions of the Reproductive Health Bill now being debated in the House of Representatives. The ad asked people to "check" the points they agreed with, including one that said that if the bill is approved, your spouse can undergo a vasectomy or tubal ligation without your knowledge or consent.
When I read that, I knew that something was wrong, because I haven't heard of any law or regulation that currently requires spousal approval for either procedure. Besides, why would you need your husband's or wife's approval before undergoing a vasectomy or ligation? It is, after all, your own body. Granted, in an ideal world, couples would talk about and share their fertility aspirations. But they shouldn't need each other's permission!
Now it turns out that I wasn't alone in my opinion. NGO leaders "vehemently condemn the continuous misinformation of the public by the Couples for Christ (CfC) on House Bill 5043, or the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008," the Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) said in a statement.
"We call on the opponents of the bill to stop propagating misinformation on the bill. Their effort to impose their moralities on others makes them blind (to) the realities around us. This is unfair for the 90 percent of Filipinos clamoring for the realization of this policy," Ramon San Pascual, PLCPD executive director, said.
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Another NGO leader, Ben de Leon, who is president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, criticized the CfC, noting that "ironically, the behavior of these anti-RH groups who are mostly from the Catholic hierarchy is very un-Catholic. They are in the forefront of a campaign to spread misinformation and lies to the Filipino public."
San Pascual also pointed out what the CfC's appeal to "kill" the bill would mean to Filipino women. It would mean, he said, condoning "more than 3,500 Filipino women dying every year due to childbirth and pregnancy complications. Killing the RH bill means ignoring the children orphaned by their mothers… [it] amounts to taking part in the deaths of these poor mothers."
"Killing" the bill also means, San Pascual pointed out, telling the government and our leaders "to deny the Filipino people, most especially women, of their reproductive rights and their freedom to make informed choices."
San Pascual observed that "the consistent threats and misinformation being peddled by the anti-reproductive health bill groups are actually helping the campaign for its passage." Noting that the bill is gaining more adherents in the House, with 105 lawmakers signing on as authors, San Pascual said that "in their effort to bully our policymakers, the anti-RH groups are actually insulting the intelligence and capacity of policymakers to decide based on facts and their conscience."
He also made an appeal to the bill's critics, calling on them "to stop resorting to mudslinging and dirty tactics. It does not do anybody any good. It would be better to instead spend their time in working with us to improve the bill."
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YES to the Reproductive Health Bill! NO to the CATHOLIC TALIBAN!
Condom Nation, Not Condemnation!