WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Filipino-Americans are joining with Catholics from their native country to fight proposed legislation that would promote contraception and limit family size, while punishing conscientious objectors.
The newly consolidated Reproductive Health Bill of 2005, renamed "An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and for Other Purposes," was put on the floor of Congress last week to begin plenary debates, reported the Washington-based Filipino Family Fund.
At the close of the week, the debates were temporarily suspended, but are due to resume soon. Pro-life groups are holding vigils outside of the House of Representatives in order to closely monitor the proceedings of the bill.
After the original reproductive health bill's failure to pass in 2005, the new Congress reconvened, introduced three new bills, consolidated them into the current proposal, and put the new bill through the Committee on Population without due process in May of 2008.
The Philippine Legislator Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) has worked with International Planned Parenthood and the U.N. Population Fund in the creation of this legislation that aims to depopulate the country through all possible means and decrease HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. The U.N. fund has appropriated $26 million to the Philippines for this purpose.
This bill would mandate an "ideal family size," setting the stage for a proposed Two-Child Policy. It foresees stiff penalties that include up to six months imprisonment and heavy fines for those who do not comply with the proposed reproductive health care agenda.
According to the bill, these penalties could even apply to any person "who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this act."
Provisions of the bill call for a network of doctors, population officers in every province, and a national curriculum that will teach secular sex education to fifth graders.
Eileen Macapanas Cosby, president of the Filipino Family Fund, told ZENIT that "freedom of speech is at stake. Parents will not be able to object. Health care workers will be forced to refer against their conscience. Employers will have to provide family planning services."
"International Planned Parenthood has sold false presuppositions that access to contraception will alleviate poverty, and decrease the number of abortions. Many who do not have an understanding of Catholic social teachings have bought this," explained Cosby. "Precisely because the country is Catholic, [Planned Parenthood] has targeted the Philippines."
Cosby noted the affirmation of Archbishop Pacino Aniceto, chairman of the episcopal commission on family and life, who stated "If you are Catholic, you should behave like a Catholic. Otherwise you are not what you profess."
Filipino bishops are sponsoring an advocacy movement against the passage of the bill. They note that a contraception bill with necessarily include abortion.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan affirmed on his blog, "It is not hard to see that the title of the bill alone says many words yet its open-ended phrase ‘for other purposes' suggests its hardly realized humungous price tag and grave moral costs."
Rest of Asia
Filipino Catholics plan to gather 1 million signatures against the reproductive health bill to present to Congress. Father Melvin Castro, secretariat of the Pro-life Office of the bishops' conference reported that he had collected 100,000 signatures of constituents by last week.
The Filipino Family Fund is urging people to sign the petition on their Web site.
"We have to defend the Church now or the rest of Asia will be at stake," said Cosby.
In return for the foreign funding promised by Planned Parenthood and the United Nations, the Philippines will be losing moral ground, Cosby told ZENIT. Our stance is to remain vigilant now, as the debates are set to resume soon, she added.
"The truth of the matter is, that the bill will lead to the implementation of an immoral policy -- a proposed synthetic artificial contraceptives eventually designed to ruin health as it slants the idea of responsible parenthood to issues of depopulation, which proponents claim will result to progress among underdeveloped countries like ours," Archbishop Cruz wrote on his blog. "After all, no human act, no legislative bill, no executive function, no judicial work is over and above morality.
"Morality is neither irrelevant in politics, not indifferent in a secular society. Irrespective of the race, color and creed of those concerned, the moment individuals fool around with private morals, the moment the government disregards public morals, then the families and country are in big trouble respectively. This is the standing lesson of history."
By Genevieve Pollock
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