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Bishops in our Bedroom: Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines

Bishops in our Bedroom: Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines

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Published by Carlos Tulali
Bishops in our Bedroom: Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines. This paper aims to present the historical and religious basis of the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception and how it affects every Filipino woman, man, and child. The Philippines, one of the few countries in the
world without a comprehensive reproductive health (RH) law, has two characteristics which differentiate it from other countries in Southeast Asia. It is the only predominantly Christian country in the region and has one of the highest rates of population growth. Like in many other Catholic countries, the Roman Catholic church (RCC) is very active in the Philippines in the population policy debate. Non-Catholic Christians make up only about 9 percent of the population compared with around 82 percent for Roman Catholics.
Bishops in our Bedroom: Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines. This paper aims to present the historical and religious basis of the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception and how it affects every Filipino woman, man, and child. The Philippines, one of the few countries in the
world without a comprehensive reproductive health (RH) law, has two characteristics which differentiate it from other countries in Southeast Asia. It is the only predominantly Christian country in the region and has one of the highest rates of population growth. Like in many other Catholic countries, the Roman Catholic church (RCC) is very active in the Philippines in the population policy debate. Non-Catholic Christians make up only about 9 percent of the population compared with around 82 percent for Roman Catholics.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Carlos Tulali on Mar 16, 2010
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12/19/2012

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PLCPD POLICY BRIEF
 Expanding choices, uplifting lives through responsive population and human development legislation
Bishops in our Bedroom:
 Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines
Carlos O. Tulali
Summary 
The total prohibition o articial birth control methods by the Roman Catholic church (RCC) wasdeclared by Pope Pius XI in his 1930 encyclical,
Casti Connubii 
, and was maintained by the 1968
 Humanae Vitae
. The RCC sanctions only abstinence and the natural amily planning (NFP) methodas suitable techniques or birth control. This RCC stance is considered as a major reason why thePhilippines remains one o the ew countries in the world without a comprehensive reproductivehealth law. Currently, the government leaves amily planning issues to local governments and ew o them promote articial contraception.Through the doctrine o papal inallibility, Roman Catholics could be certain that the teachings o the pope and o God were one and the same, and i strictly ollowed, one’s entrance into heaven wasguaranteed. Such an arrangement placed enormous control o Catholic individuals into the hands o the Vatican – among them is the 82 percent o 92 million Filipinos.The proponents o papal inallibility could not imagine the population explosion o the lasthal o the twentieth century. But, as it stands now, the RCC cannot change its position on birth undamental doctrine o papal inallibility at all costs.The RCC is the only religion with a seat in the U.N., and the Vatican has used this status as well asits infuence on Catholic politicians in developing countries to press policies against contraception.In the Philippines, RCC priests threaten ‘unriendly’ politicians with a church-organized campaignin the 2010 elections. However, survey results show that many Catholics disagree with the positionstaken by the bishops in relation to population and reproductive health.In the uture, the Philippine government and the RCC will likely continue to debate on their ocuson the nation’s population growth. While this continues, the health and well being o many womenand amilies will be aected and rapid population growth will remain.
Background
The Philippine population, with an annual growth rate o 2.04 percent,
1
is projectedto hit 92.23 million by end-2009.
2
The 2009 human development index (HDI)or the Philippines is 0.751, which gives the country a rank o 105
th
out o 182countries with data.
3
In comparison, its South-east Asian neighbors Vietnam andIndonesia saw signicant improvements in their HDI. Without enough resourcesto provide or everyone, the need to manage population growth becomes a criticalsolution to the problem o poverty in the Philippines.
 
2
PLCPD POLICY BRIEF |
Bishops in our Bedroom: The Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines
The Philippines, one o the ew countries in theworld without a comprehensive reproductivehealth (RH) law, has two characteristics whichdierentiate it rom other countries in SoutheastAsia. It is the only predominantly Christian countryin the region and has one o the highest rates o population growth. Like in many other Catholiccountries, the Roman Catholic church (RCC) isvery active in the Philippines in the populationpolicy debate. Non-Catholic Christians make uponly about 9 percent o the population comparedwith around 82 percent or Roman Catholics.The 1994 International Conerence on Populationand Development (ICPD) in Cairo, in which thePhilippines is a signatory, produced, or the rst time,the concept o reproductive health and reproductiverights. The RCC in the Philippines responded to theICPD documents by publicly burning the conerenceproposals, citing them as “an agreement with thedevil.While the infuence o the RCC has beensignicant in attacking the government’s policy, theChurch has done little to infuence the behavioro individual Catholics. The RCC have been moreeective in infuencing the government than itspeople. According to the 2008 National Demographicand Health survey (NDHS), the contraceptiveprevalence rate (CPR) is 51% in 2008. This marks anincrease o contraceptive use by Filipino women overthe last decade, rom 47% in 1998 to 49% in 2003.Distribution o donated contraceptives in thegovernment’s nationwide network o clinicsended in 2008, as well as the contraception-commodities program paid or by the U.S. Agencyor International Development (USAID). Since the1970s USAID has supplied most o the condoms,pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs) used by poorFilipinos. While a relatively small Filipino middleclass can aord to buy their own contraceptives,millions o poor women cannot. A month’s supplyo the pill costs around hal the average daily salaryo almost hal the population. Currently, legislatorsin the Philippines are debating a new law that willpromote amily planning to ease nancial burdenon poor amilies. The debate over the controversialRH bill is now threatening to turn into a majorbattle between the church and the state.Without an eective amily planning andreproductive health policy, the Philippines, alreadythe world’s 12
th
most populous country with 92million people, is projected to have a populationo over 140 million by 2040. This will put a hugestrain on its creaking health system, education andother services, and its ability to eed itsel. The RHBill that remains pending in both chambers o the14
th
Congress, while supported by many Filipinos,is encumbered by the stand o RCC advocatespromoting only abstinence and natural amilyplanning (NFP) methods. Some Catholic bishopshave said they will reuse communion to politicianswho support the RH bill. Others warn that theRCC’s crucial backing in the 2010 presidential andcongressional elections will be withheld.This paper aims to present the historical andreligious basis o the RCC’s opposition tocontraception and how it aects every Filipinowoman, man, and child.
 
3
Bishops in our Bedroom: The Roman Catholic Church and the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines
| PLCPD POLICY BRIEF
Church Influence onContraception
The Roman Catholic church (RCC) is the world’slargest Christian church and says it has over abillion members. Its claim to authority rests onthe doctrine o the apostolic succession, throughwhich the Church claims to be the true successoro the original Christian community ounded by Jesus in his selection o Saint Peter, and throughwhich its bishops and priests claim spiritual andsacramental authority.The total prohibition o articial birth controlmethods by the RCC, declared by Pope Pius XI inhis 1930 encyclical,
Casti Connubii
, was maintainedby the 1968 Humanae Vitae
4
(Latin or “o humanlie”). The RCC sanctions only abstinence and thenatural amily planning (NFP) method as suitabletechniques or birth control.Casti Connubii was written in response tothe Anglican Communion’s Seventh LambethConerence, which approved contraceptive use inlimited circumstances. For much o its existence,the RCC heavily emphasized procreation asthe primary purpose o sex. Some Catholicseven believed that intercourse at times wherepregnancy was not a possible result (such ascurrent pregnancy and menopause) was sinul.
5
 However,
Casti Connubii
acknowledged or the rsttime a secondary, unitive, purpose o intercourse.
6
 Because o this secondary purpose, marriedcouples have a right to engage in intercourse evenwhen pregnancy is not a possible result. SomeCatholics interpreted the statement as not onlypermitting sex between married couples duringpregnancy and menopause, but also during theinertile times o the menstrual cycle.
7
 
Vatican and birth control 
The birth control story begins with the SecondVatican Council in the early l960s and the decisiono two popes to re-examine the RCC’s positionon birth control. Pope John XXIll had intendedto begin the re-examination, but he died beorehe could begin the process. His successor, PopePaul VI, issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae in1968, which constitutes the present day policy o the RCC. In truth, the
Humanae Vitae was indirect opposition to the fndings made by thePontifcal Commission on Population, Familyand Birth
(1964-66), which was tasked to look into the continued validity o the Church stance onbirth control.The Commission was two-tiered: 1) a group o 15cardinals and bishops; 2) a group o 64 lay expertsrepresenting a variety o disciplines: theologians,sociologists, medical doctors and social scientists,including a Filipina, Dr. Mercedes Concepcion o the University o the Philippines.
8
 Ater two years o study, the lay commission voted60 to 4, and the clergy voted 9 to 6, to change theposition on birth control, even though it wouldmean a loss o papal authority.
The Commissionbelieved it was the right thing to do. TheCommission would state in its fnal reportthat the Church’s teaching on artifcialcontraception was in a state o doubt andthat birth control, as long as this did notinvolve abortion, was not intrinsically evil.
They recommended that the procreative aspecto sex should not be tied to every sexual act,

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