Give us freedom

Published by rudy Date posted on May 20, 2011
Let me say it again upfront. The Catholic Church has every right to oppose the use of contraceptives from the pulpit. It may dictate to its believers anything it wants.
But it cannot and it must not be allowed to dictate to others of a different faith.
The government recognizes that in this secular state, it has a responsibility to Muslims, Protestants, atheists – all Filipinos. And 70 percent of all Filipinos (including Catholics) have said they want family planning. The President is doing absolutely the right thing by listening to the people.
If the Church can’t convince its flock through persuasion it has no right to do so by dictate. If it can’t convince through its own arguments, then it must have a weak case. Christ did not dictate (as I recall the scriptures). He guided his people, and the bishops can do no less. Their opposition can be from the pulpit cannot be in denunciation of a law designed to help people who request (it is not forced upon them) guidance. Filipinos have a right to that guidance.
All other arguments—pro-life, anti-life; contraceptives are abortifacients, contraceptives aren’t abortifacients; contraceptives encourage/don’t encourage promiscuity, etc etc,—are irrelevant as to whether a law should be passed or not. It’s quite simply that government has a responsibility for all Filipinos, and 70 percent of them want family planning. The government is obliged to provide that assistance. The Church can advise its flock that it’s sinful to use modern methods, but it can’t dictate to the state.
Some Church leaders are calling on their flock not to pay taxes to express their displeasure with the government. By all means do it, but it’s illegal, and you can go to jail for it. I suggest the Catholics who want family planning assistance do the same thing, and stop contributing to the Church. That’s legal, and I can’t imagine God denying you entry into Heaven just because you did that.
This to me is the fundamental issue in a democracy: Freedom of choice. All other arguments are secondary to this. And this transcends them all. Everyone has the right to information and to assistance if requested. It’s the least a compassionate government can do.
So to the Bishops, guide your flock, tell them of the evils of contraception; but don’t dictate that it’s not acceptable.
I wonder why the President just doesn’t establish family planning clinics anyway. Surely that’s possible through an executive Order, without need of a law. There are already population centers in some towns. And previous administrations had issued decrees and EOs that openly promoted family planning and endorsed the use of contraceptives.
Ferdinand Marcos introduced a National Population Program in 1970 to promote small families and complemented this with a National Population Family Planning Outreach Program to service rural areas. In 1969, he created the Population Commission by Executive Order 233.
Ramos issued EO 307 in 1996 which directed local government units to implement a family planning program and to ensure the availability of information and services for all methods. His Philippine Population Program Plan extended this and aimed to reduce population growth rate from 2.46% in 1993 to 2.28% by 1998.
DOH Administrative Order No. 1-A of 1998 created the Reproductive Health Program that included family planning; maternal and child health, and nutrition; and, education and counseling on sexuality and sexual health, among others.
Estrada introduced the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP) Directional Plan that targeted a fertility rate of 2.1 children/woman by 2004 and included modern methods of contraception. Arroyo continued it for a while, but then caved in to Church pressure.
What it all says, it seems, is that President Aquino can establish family planning clinics through an executive order. Maybe his lawyers can check it out. –Peter Wallace, Manila Standard Today

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