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Repression of Conscience

Philippines bill launches attack on freedom of conscience

House Bill 3773 would punish conscientious objection with imprisonment

Philippines, April, 2005

Family Planning Bill in Philippines Paving Way for Legalized Abortion
Friday Fax, April 29, 2005
Volume 8, Number 19
Copyright 2005 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.


One of the most populous Catholic countries in the world is set to significantly liberalize its laws on family planning and "reproductive health" services, stopping just short of outright legalization of abortion. The proposed legislation, which is likely to pass within months, sets in place a "comprehensive national policy" that discriminates against families with more than two children and requires the Catholic Church to provide sex education in schools and to pay for the sterilizations of its employees.

House Bill 3773, entitled, "Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act of 2005," says, "The State . . . guarantees universal access to safe, affordable and quality reproductive health care services." The bill defines "reproductive health care" as "availability and access to a full range of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive and sexual health and well-being . . .[including] family planning information and services."

Brian Cowles, Director of Research at Human Life International, points out that "the words 'reproductive health' appear 55 times in the seven-page bill." UN agencies and pro-abortion groups view such words as including abortion.

While the bill states that "abortion shall remain to be penalized,"Meg Francisco of the Filipine Alliance for the Family Foundation, Inc. says, "The experience of every country that has promoted contraception shows that abortion will eventually be included." She says that the "reasons given for contraception are the same as reasons for abortion," the two policies are "linked by jurisprudence [such as the] right to privacy," "and at times, are identical, [since] IUD and the Pill are abortifacients."

The bill also says that "the State shall encourage two (2) children as the ideal Family size." The bill does not make two children mandatory, but says that "Children from these families shall have preference in the grant of scholarships at the tertiary level." According to Francisco, this policy "will lead to social stigma for large families . . . [who] would be considered irresponsible, and their children, unplanned and unwanted." Francisco also believes that this provision "penalizes the poor, who are precisely those who need financial aid for college."

The bill sets up mandatory sex education from grades 5-12, with topics to include "reproductive health and sexual rights," "sexual identity," and "gender roles." The Catholic Church is not exempt from this obligation. Moreover, the bill requires all employers, not excluding the Catholic Church, to provide free of charge, "reproductive health care services and devices to the workers." The bill considers such services to include voluntary sterilization.

Francisco also points out that the bill also prohibits persons "to act from conscience" because it threatens up to six months imprisonment for "any health care service provider who shall . . . refuse to perform voluntary sterilization and ligation" and for "any public official . . .who shall prohibit or intentionally restrict" the provision of services outlined in the bill.

 

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