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Get Real: The Facts vs. Myths on Population, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health
Myth #1: Contraceptives cause abortion. Life begins at fertilization, so contraceptives kill children. (pp.2-3) FACT: Contraceptives DO NOT cause abortion. Research has shown that the use of contraceptives prevents up to 112 million abortions each year and reduces abortion by 85%. Myth #2: Contraceptives are dangerous to health and cause cancer. (pp. 4-5) FACT: Contraceptives DO NOT cause cancer, have been proven safe worldwide, and even lower cancer risk. Myth #3: Mandatory sex education and contraceptives will destroy the family, compromise morality, increase promiscuity and promote HIV infections. (p. 6) FACT: Age-appropriate sex education and contraceptive provisions will support informed choice and lower the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Myth #4: Family Planning using artificial methods is against Filipino culture. (p. 7) FACT: National surveys show that a majority of Filipinos believe that family planning using modern and artificial methods is important. Many of them prefer smaller family sizes. Myth #5: Natural family planning (NFP) is the most effective and safe family planning method, is free, and is the only program that should be supported by the government. (pp. 8-9) FACT: Both NFP and modern methods are needed to effectively and safely address maternal health, family planning, and sustainable development. Myth #6: There is no link between population and poverty. Corruption is the sole cause of poverty. (pp. 10-13) FACT: There are strong, proven links between poverty, rapid population growth, and large, unplanned family sizes. Myth #7: The Philippines has enough resources to meet a larger population. (pp. 14-17) FACT: The Philippines will not develop sustainably unless it slows its rapidly growing population. Myth #8: Highly populated countries like India and China are successful because of their large populations, while other countries are experiencing a “demographic winter.” (pp. 18-20) FACT: India and China have been trying to reduce population growth and family sizes for decades, and their growth is due to the improving productivity of their citizens. The Philippines is 100 years away from a “demographic winter,” and even with lowered population growth and fertility rates, will already reach 160 million in 2060. Without this, the Philippines may have an unsustainable population of 240 million people. Myth #9: Family planning through modern contraceptives is against the Philippine Constitution. (p. 21) FACT: The Philippine Constitution and Philippine commitments to International Agreements allow family planning and the use of modern methods. Myth #10: Islam, Christianity and other major religions forbid contraception. (pp. 22-26) FACT: Islam, most Christian denominations, and other major religions allow couples to use modern and natural methods to plan their families. The governments of Catholic countries have accepted family planning policies with State provision of modern and natural family planning methods.
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Myth #1: Contraceptives cause abortion. Life begins at fertilization, so contraceptives kill children. FACT: The use of contraceptives prevents 112 million abortions each year and can reduce abortion by 85%.
Modern contraception averts over 112 million abortions in the developing world each year1, and conforms to majority of country experiences where increased contraceptive use lowers induced abortions. (See Figure 5) Figure 5: World and Country case studies: contraception and abortion inverse relationship
South Korea and Russia Initially, rapid fertility decline in South Korea was accompanied by increases in both contraceptive use and abortion; over time, abortion rates turned downward while contraceptive use continued to climb.
Note: Abortion rates are expressed per 1,000 women of reproductive age, contraceptive prevalence per 100 married women of reproductive age and TFRs per 10 women. Source: Marston C and Cleland J, Relationships between contraception and abortion: a review of the evidence, International Family Planning Perspectives, 2003, 29(1):6-13.
Source: Westoff C., 2003
Singh S, Juarez F, Cabigon J, Ball H, Hussain R and Nadeau J. (2006). Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Causes and Consequences. New York: Guttmacher Institute.
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The use of contraceptives can reduce abortion rates by 85%.2 o In Nigeria and the Philippines, abortion is banned, and strong conservative religious and cultural traditions would seem to militate against women resorting to abortion. Yet, the abortion rate in both countries is estimated to be 25 per 1,000 women of reproductive age—slightly higher than the U.S. rate.3 The Catholic institutional position is based on the notion that life begins when the egg and sperm unite. It is based on the mistaken idea that this is a "moment," when in fact conception is a process. 4 In the Roman Catholic tradition, there is no uniformity regarding when ensoulment occurs, or personhood begins. o The Vatican’s declaration on abortion5 states that personhood has been equated theologically with the moment the Creator endows the fetus with a human soul, but that moment is not and cannot be known. o There is no consistency of position within the Church regarding when the fetus is endowed with a soul. Thomas Aquinas held that it was most likely at 40 days for males and 80 days for females. Augustine held that ensoulment was not possible prior to the presence of fully formed human body. The idea of immediate ensoulment at conception was not considered. o When the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was declared in 1854, care was taken to note that the idea that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin on her should not lead to the assumption that others received a soul at conception. Referring to the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body.”6 o Modern inquiries on ensoulment combine scientific knowledge about embryology with theology. Medicine, science, and law definitions of personhood vary; there is no scientific consensus on when it occurs during pregnancy, and there is no medical or scientific definition that holds that personhood exists at conception. Contemporary Catholic theologian, Fr. Norman Ford, argues that ensoulment requires “that only one embryo proper and human individual has been formed and begins to exist. The formation of an ontological individual with a truly human nature and rational ensoulment must coincide.”7 It is an embryological fact that in cases of identical twins the division of embryonic tissue giving rise to twins does not occur until 13 to 14 days after conception. Implantation occurs between 9 and 12 days post conception, so any contraceptive that acts during the implantation stage cannot be consider to cause and abortion, as no individual person yet exists.
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/4/gr060407.html#c1 Ibid. 4 Interview. Archbishop Rembert Weakland. February 2011. 5 Bovens, Luc. Journal of Medical Ethics, 2006;32:355-356 6 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm 7 Fr. Norman Ford. “When Did I Begin?” Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1988.
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Myth #2: Contraceptives are dangerous to health and cause cancer. FACT: Contraceptives DO NOT cause cancer, have been proven safe worldwide, and even lower cancer risk.
Oral contraceptives were first approved for use in the United States in 1960, and since then numerous studies have been conducted to examine their effects on the female body. o The pill has been shown by many research institutes and universities to have few negative side effects and many health benefits. Studies have followed women of various ages, professions, states of health, environment and lifestyles.8 When compared to the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases, women using oral contraceptives had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause. No association between overall mortality and duration of oral contraceptive use was observed. o Compared with never users, ever users of oral contraception had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause (adjusted relative risk 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.82 to 0.93). They also had significantly lower rates of death from all cancers; large bowel/rectum, uterine body, and ovarian cancer; main gynecological cancers combined; all circulatory disease; ischaemic heart disease; and all other diseases. o Oral contraception was not associated with an increased long term risk of death in this large UK cohort; indeed, a net benefit was apparent.”9 A 2010 Scientific International Report shows contraceptives to be safe, and REDUCES cancer risk (See Tables 2a&b).
Studies have also shown little effect on the long-term fertility of women after stopping use of oral contraceptives. “Reversibility data is clear. Despite a possible few months' lag in the return of normal menstrual cycles, most women resume their previous level of fertility once they stop taking oral contraceptive pills.”10 In fact, some women take oral contraceptive pills to treat various medical conditions, including, “dysmenorrhea, metrorrhagia, premenstrual syndrome, ovarian and endometrial cancer, functional ovarian cysts, benign breast cysts, ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis.”11 Medical science and global health standards have affirmed the safety and acceptability of modern contraceptive methods, while respecting individual countries’ policy independence (See Table 1):
Ann Intern Med. 1994 May 15; 120 (10):821-6. Oral contraceptive use and mortality during 12 years of follow-up: the Nurses' Health Study. Colditz GA. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. 9 Mortality among contraceptive pill users: cohort evidence from Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study. Philip C Hannaford, Grampian Health Board chair of primary care, Lisa Iversen, research fellow, Tatiana V Macfarlane, senior research fellow, Alison M Elliott, senior research fellow, Valerie Angus, data manager, Amanda J Lee, professor of medical statistics 10 SYLVIA L. CEREL-SUHL, M.D., and BRYAN F. YEAGER, PHARM.D. Update on Oral Contraceptive Pills. University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky 11 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) Capri Workshop Group. Noncontraceptive health benefits of combined oral contraception, Human Reproduction Update, Vol.11, No.5 pp. 513–525, 2005. Advance Access publication July 8, 2005
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Myth #3: Mandatory sex education and contraceptives will destroy the family, compromise morality, increase promiscuity and promote HIV infections. FACT: Age-appropriate sex education and contraceptive provision will support informed choice and lower the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Sex education Sex education is about warning everyone about the risks and dangers involved with reproductive health. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, only 12% of women and 18% of men aged 15-24 knew about how to avoid and control HIV12. Proper sex education also aims to strengthen family bonds by encouraging the youth to seek guidance from their parents, rather than avoid the topic. Proper sex education encourages families to REJECT promiscuity in favor of appropriate behavior. Contraception Contraceptives are tools that allow responsible people to make the right choices to protect themselves and their loved ones. If all women who wanted to avoid pregnancy used modern methods, there would be 1.6 million fewer pregnancies each year in the Philippines. Unintended births would drop by 800,000, abortions would decline by 500,000 and miscarriages would decline by 200,000.13 The Philippines needs an educational system that properly balances health concerns, practical issues, and moral principles that take the family values and cultural factors into account. Condoms have also been proven not only to be effective artificial contraceptives, but are also virtually 100% effective in preventing the transmission of AIDS/HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases as shown by research conducted in Europe.14 o USAID, has said this in support of condom use, as proven by their vast experience in Africa, “Scientific studies of sexually active discordant couples, where one partner is infected with HIV and the other partner is not, have demonstrated that the correct and consistent use of latex condoms reduces the likelihood of HIV infection by 80 to 90%.” o “Scientific studies do provide evidence that latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of gonorrhea and chlamydia infections in both women and men.”15 Along with Bangladesh, the Philippines is the only country in Asia with increases in HIV cases, while others are stabilizing or declining due to increased prevention and contraceptive programs. 16
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2008 (United Nations, 2008) 50. 13 http://www.likhaan.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2010_facts_barriers_contraceptive_use_philippines.pdf 14 HIV/AIDS: European Research provides clear proof that HIV virus cannot pass through condoms, press release by European Commission, Manuel Romarís, HIV/AIDS Research, DG Research. 15 Condom Use: How It Relates to HIV and STI Prevention, USAID, http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/aids/TechAreas/prevention/condomuse.html 16 http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101125/hl_afp/healthphilippinesaids. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/11/24/10/hiv-casessoaring-philippines.
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Myth #4: Family Planning using Artificial methods is against Filipino culture. Fact: National surveys show that a majority of Filipinos believe that family planning using modern and artificial methods is important. Many of them prefer smaller family sizes.
Statistics and national surveys increasingly show that the majority of Filipinos believe that family planning is important, and prefer smaller family sizes: o 54% of married women do not want additional children. An additional 19% of women want to wait at least 2 years before their next birth.17 o 9 in 10 Filipinos believe in government budgetary support for modern methods of family planning including the pill, IUDs, condoms, ligation and vasectomy.18 o Support for both family planning education (76%) and bills providing modern family planning (71%) is very high among both men and women, whether single or married, in all areas of the country.19 72% in Metro Manila, 69% in Luzon, 68% in the Visayas 77% representing classes ABC, 70% classes CDE o 84% of Filipinos and 71% of Catholics support the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.20 68% support a policy to distribute contraceptives. o Filipino women want smaller family sizes, but are not able to achieve them; more so if they are poorer. (See response to Myth #6) The desire to keep family sizes manageable through family planning upholds traditional Filipino culture. o Having fewer children will enable parents to allocate more resources – providing better nutrition and more schooling – for their children. o This increases a family’s chances of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, as adequate schooling increases the next generation’s chances of securing better prospects for livelihood and well-being. o Well-spaced births ensure better maternal health, giving mothers more time for childcare, increased opportunities for livelihood, and better health and quality of life. It is precisely to strengthen the hallmarks of Filipino culture that a modern family planning policy should be adopted and implemented. o Freedom of choice. The Philippines is the only Catholic country that does not have a family planning policy that provides both modern and natural family planning methods. The current bills with these methods will enable access to internationally and medically safe and ethical family planning methods to enable them to voluntarily plan their resources and family sizes. o Protecting the Family. By ensuring that families have the education and means to voluntarily meet and plan their family sizes according to their means and resources, this policy will enable members to have a better quality of life, as opposed to being burdened with unmanageable costs of unplanned children and having to separate from their families by finding work in urban centers or overseas. o Protecting life. Family planning policies around the world have proven to reverse induced abortion rates and improve maternal health.
Department of Health, National Demographic and Health Survey, 2008 Pulse Asia Survey. 2004. 19 Social Weather Station Survey. 2008. 20 Ibid.
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Myth #5: Natural family planning (NFP) is the most effective and safe family planning method, is free, and is the only program that should be supported by the government. FACT: Both NFP and modern methods are needed to effectively and safely address maternal health, family planning, and sustainable development.
Periodic abstinence, sometimes called natural family planning (NFP), should be available for those couples who make a valid choice to use it, whether Catholic or not. However, the government also needs to recognize that NFP has never played a major role in fertility decline in any country.21 o In the Philippines, traditional-method users account for almost 1/4th of women at risk for unintended pregnancies, as well as resulting in almost 1/4th of all unintended pregnancies. (See Figure 3) o According to the Guttmacher Institute, NFP or periodic abstinence has a 25.3% failure rate.22 NFP users comprise 35% of women who attempt abortion after this method of choice failed (See Figure 6.4).
Professor Luc Bovens, of the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, says the success of the rhythm method may be attributed to the decrease in viability of embryos that are conceived on either end of the most fertile days of a woman's menstrual cycle, and that 2 to 3 embryos die for every pregnancy that occurs using the rhythm method.23 o One problem with NFP is that when it fails there is a risk the egg and/or sperm involved will have been in the uterus and Fallopian tubes for an unnatural length of time, greatly increasing the risk of embryonic abnormality when fertilization does occur. o Using this reality, advocates for natural family planning methods and advocates against modern forms of contraception are likewise guilty of the very claim they make. o “The rhythm method may well be responsible for massive embryonic death; the same logic that turned prolifers away from pills, IUD's and pill usage should also make them nervous as the rhythm method.” Biology Professor S. F. Gilbert offers the this data to indicate a heavy embryo loss from NFP methods:24 o 20 % of eggs come in contact with sperm o Numbers surviving the original 20%: 16.8 % have successful fertilization and 13.8% have successful implantation, of which the fetuses coming to term are only 6.2 %. o This loss of ‘lives’ is of such magnitude; it negates the myth of the creation of personhood upon fertilization.
Interview. Dr. Malcolm Potts. UC Berkeley School of Public Health. 18 November 2010 http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html 23 Bovens, Luc. Journal of Medical Ethics, 2006;32:355-356 24 www.arhp.org/uploadDocs/RH09_Gilbert.ppt
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Contrary to popular belief, promoting the NFP method is not free. o While the method itself does not involve purchase of paraphernalia, it entails sufficient knowledge and understanding on the part of the users, and costs for trainers, support teams and educators. o Limiting options to NFP fails to address the private and social costs of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies. o Like artificial family planning, the correct practice of natural family planning methods must be promoted to the public, at the considerable cost of PhP 2.9 billion. (See Figure 4)
At least PhP 5.5 billion is spent annually on health care services for managing unintended pregnancies and related complications (See Table 4). Compared to maternal health costs, modern family planning methods are comparably inexpensive and affordable. o Despite these realities, the Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy has focused most of its efforts on political means of preventing legislation on family planning policy at the expense of advocating an effective family planning program aligned with its teachings (i.e., NFP). o There are conflicts within the Catholic Church about the legitimacy and effectiveness of NFP methods. This ambiguity has led to NFP usage failure rates in marginalized communities such as Payatas, where a Catholic-church program resulted in only 27 successful users (out of 390 documented women) after 4 years of effort.25 NFP programs are only used by 0.5% of married women in the Philippines26, reflecting a need for the Catholic Church to focus on improving training and monitoring components (critical to success of usage) as opposed to marshalling resources to combat family planning programs that provide both NFP and modern methods. NFP as practiced has not been effective for family planning and for slowing the country’s population growth. o For many poor and less educated couples, in particular, learning and adopting NFP is too complicated and cumbersome and requires extraordinary discipline. o A more humane stance would tolerate the use of modern and more effective methods of family planning, besides NFP, provided they do not result in abortion. o According to a prominent Filipino theologian, “This moral position is also pro-life, in the sense of pro-qualitylife. Each life brought into this world deserves to be raised in a dignified, human way that the parents are capable of, according to God’s design, and not left to a ‘bahala-na’ attitude”27
Carroll, John. SJ and Mendoza-Rivera, Didith. “Lessons from a Failure: Natural Family Planning in an Urban Poor Community.” John Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues. Population Center for Population and Development. 2008. 26 National Statistics Office. Press Release No. 2007-30. 27 Tanseco, Ruben, S.J. 2004. “Population Crisis” The Philippine Star (August 8), p. 16.
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Myth #6: There is no link between population and poverty. Corruption is the sole cause of poverty. FACT: There is a proven, strong link between poverty, rapid population growth, & large unplanned family sizes.
It is internationally recognized that rapid population growth (of 2% or more annually) is more likely to impede than promote economic development.28 o This negative effect operates via reduced child care and human capital investment at the family level, lower household sector savings for business and government investments, and constraints on allocative efficiency, innovation and entrepreneurship. According to the UN State of the World Population Report, “family planning & reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty,” and that “countries that invest in reproductive health and family planning and in women’s development register slower population growth and faster economic growth.”29 The Asian Development Bank cites a large population as one of the major causes of poverty in the country: o “Population growth in and of itself is not a problem if resources are available to cope with the additional people requiring public services, employment, housing, and so on. But in a country where the budget is already stretched and where poverty is high to begin with, population growth becomes a major issue.” 30 In Asia, a slower population growth and higher ratio of working-age group – was responsible for about a third of the region’s increase in income per person.31 The UP School of Economics affirms that “Rapid population growth and high fertility rates, especially among the poor, exacerbate poverty and make it harder for the government to address it.”32 o Further, the country’s foremost economics institution has stated that, “experience from across Asia indicates that a population policy-cum-government-funded family planning program has been a critical complement to sound economic policy and poverty reduction. Moreover, the weaker the state’s ability to tax and mobilize resources (including spending on the right priorities), the greater the negative impact on economic development of a rapidly growing population, which in every developing country is largely accounted for by the least urbanized, least educated, and poorest segments of the population.33 Significant and sustainable fertility declines can happen in countries at low income levels. o Indonesia, with a lower per capita income and lower literacy rate, was, in fact, able to reduce fertility faster than the Philippines, as with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and India’s Kerala state. The Philippine population growing beyond its economic means.34 o From 2001-2007, employment grew 13%, while working-age population grew by 17.6%. Meanwhile, the average real wage declined by 5% between 2003-2006. o 23.14 million (1 of 4) Filipinos live on 46.14 pesos (1.04 dollars) a day or less.35 This number grew even though the economy expanded by an average of 4.7% in the past decade.36 This is because the level of unmet need for family planning increased by one-third since 2003 while the government abandoned family planning methods, which stagnated during this period.37
World Bank. 1984. World Development Report. (New York: Oxford University Press). 1984. UN World Report. and http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2010/web/en/index.shtml 30 http://www.adb.org/documents/books/poverty-in-the-philippines/chap6.pdf 31 Bloom, David, D. Canning, and P. Malaney. 2000. “Population Dynamics and Economic Growth in Asia” in C. Chu and R. Lee (eds.) Population and Economic Changes in East Asia, a Supplement to Population and Development Review, Vol. 26. 32 Pernia, Ernesto PhD, et al. Population and Development: the Real Score.” University of the Philippines. 2004. p. 2 33 http://www.econ.upd.edu.ph/papers/Population_Poverty_Politics_RHBill.pdf 34 The Philippines: Fostering More Inclusive Growth. Human Development Sector Unit East Asia & Pacific. World Bank 2010. p. ii 35 National Statistics Coordinating Board. 2009 Survey 36 Department of Health. National Demographic Health Survey. 2008
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In this time, the population grew by 10 million, with 54% of pregnancies unplanned, mostly from poor families.38 The Philippines failed to reach its goal of reducing poverty to 20% in 2010. Even with modest targets, it is not realistic to rely on economic growth (already severely constrained by fiscal deficits, and since 1990, averaging only 1.8%) while neglecting the population issue.39
At least 34 International economic studies show varying results, but the majority shows a clear, negative effect of high fertility rates and population growth on economic growth and quality of life.40 o Underscores the need to focus on the micro- and national level, where the link is stronger (see below). o Anti-reproductive health advocates claim “Nobel laureate economists agree that there is no link between population and poverty.” In fact, the most cited study is an old 1966 study by economist Simon Kuznets, who only studied developed economies. In fact, Professor Kuznets has never written about the Philippines. o New studies have focused on developing countries and micro-levels, vastly improving on analyses since 1966. High fertility rates (large family sizes) especially for poorer families, increases poverty. o Poverty incidence among the population rises proportionately with family size, especially in terms of education and health expenditures. (See Figure 6.1) o Child labor prevalence rises, and school attendance decreases with increasing number of children.41 o Among the poorest 20%, over half do not use any family planning method.42
Figure 6.1 Poverty Incidence + Education and Health Expenditures per family size
Poorer women and families are affected the most, since they are unable to afford and access family planning methods (See Figure 6.2).
Osias, T., Tacardon, L., Pedroso, L. “People Beyond Numbers: The Role of Population Stabilization in the Philippines.” Philippine Population Commission. May 2010 38 Darroch, JE et al., “Meeting women’s contraceptive needs in the Philippines,” In brief, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2009 39 Pernia, Ernesto PhD, et al. Population and Development: the Real Score.” University of the Philippines. 2004. p. 11 40 Ibid., p. 18 41 Raymundo, Corazon M. “Philippine Population and Reproductive Health Situation”. U.P. Population Institute. 2004 42 Philippine Family Planning Survey 2006.
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Figure 6.2: Desired vs. Actual Family Sizes per Socio-Economic Class
The country’s ‘youth bulge’ is a socio-economic and national security risk o Regions with the highest ‘youth bulges’ are prone to poverty-related conflicts. Between 1970- 1999, 80 % of civil conflicts occurred in countries where 60% of the population or more were under age 3043. If the proportion of youth (‘youth bulge’) were under 36% (as opposed to current 65%), the average net monetary benefit per province would be at PhP 331 million, and 11-19% higher per capita income. 44 A slower population growth rate through an effective family planning policy will enable the economy to develop and accommodate the doubling of the population at higher standards of living. To look at what could have been, consider the case of Thailand, which had the same development status and population in the 1960s, but chose to adopt a modern family planning policy to enable it to govern and sustainably develop its resources, people, and growth, as shown in Figure 6.3 below. o A regional study carried out a simulation exercise – what if the Philippines had Thailand’s population growth trajectory? – with the following results: o An increase of 0.77% per annum over 1975-2000 in average income per person or a cumulative increase of 22% in income per capita by 2000 – meaning a GDP per capita in 2000 of $1,210 instead of the actual $993 [or $4,839 instead of $3,971 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms]; o Basic education savings of P128 billion (1991-2000), and basic health savings of P52 billion (1996 -2000) These savings could be used to improve quality of education and health services, or to finance agricultural sector investments that–along with lower population growth–could sharply reduce rural poverty.
Beehner, Lionel. The Effects of ‘Youth Bulge on Civil Conflicts’. Council for Foreign Relations. 27 April 2007.
http://www.cfr.org/publication/13093/effects_of_youth_bulge_on_civil_conflicts.html 44 Mapa, Dennis,. “Young Population Matters: More is not Necessarily Merrier!” Philippine Center for Population and Development. Policy Brief No. 1, 2009.
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Figure 6.3: Thailand vs. the Philippines Development: the role of family planning
Gross National Income (GNI) per capita
6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 Philippines Thailand 1969 2010
Total Fertility Rate (TFR)
Population in millions
6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Philippines Thailand
0 Philippines Thailand
Progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s)
Percentage of students enrolled in Tertiary education
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Myth #7: The Philippines has enough resources to meet a larger population. FACT: The Philippines will not develop sustainably unless it slows its rapidly growing population.
The Philippines is the 12th largest nation in terms of population but is only the 77th largest in terms of land mass. With its dwindling resources, it cannot sustain a large population. o Because of its growing population combined with inconsistent governance, the Philippines' demand on ecological resources increased from less than its own biocapacity* in 1961 to more than double its domestically available biocapacity in 2002, and is in excess of the global average45. o * Resource demand (Ecological Footprint) for the country as a whole is the product of population times per capita consumption. Resource supply (biocapacity) varies each year with ecosystem management, agricultural practices (such as fertilizer use and irrigation), ecosystem degradation, and weather. Figure 1. Philippine Footprint vs. Biocapacity vs. the World’s
In the Philippines, the compound pressure of competing demands for cropland, pasture, and forest create a production Footprint in excess of available biocapacity. o This suggests that the forest stock is being depleted. The Philippines’ forests shrank at an average annual rate of 1.4%in the 1990s. (see Figure 4). per capita Biocapacity has been declining rapidly from 1.22 to 0.52 gha/cap,mainly due to growth in population and environmental degradation.46 A larger population exacerbates the effects of global warming identified by UN climate scientists47:
World and Country Trends. Global Footprint Network
Wackernagel, Mathis, et al. Ecological footprint time series of Austria,the Philippines,and South Korea for 1961–1999: comparing the conventional approach to an ‘actual land area’ approach. Land Use Policy 21 (2004) 261–269
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Rising sea levels, floods and typhoons, dwindling drinking water supplies induced by drought, and shrinking food crops from parched agricultural lands increase human and ecological vulnerability. A 1-meter rise in sea level resulting from melting polar ice caps could put 64 of 81 provinces—a full 80% —in harm’s way.48 o This equals 700 million square meters of coastal lands covering half of the country’s 1,610 municipalities, where half of the population depends on seafood as the main source of protein.
The Philippines can learn from countries such as Pakistan, which has a large population, fertility rate, and corresponding resource strains and conflicts. o Underlying these is its failing ecosystem and finite biocapacity, where forest cover has been depleted in favor of farmlands, which itself showing diminishing returns due to growing population and population density.
Because of the clear and present danger to current and future generations, citizens and policymakers can invoke the ethical teaching widely endorsed by all faith groups, called the Precautionary Principle*, to enact legislation to proactively address and manage population growth and sustainable resource use. o The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (Rio Declaration) embodies this statement of precaution and takes the principle from Hippocrates’ oath and places it into the environmental arena: “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”49
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, U.N.Doc. A/CONF.151/6/Rev.1 (1992), 31 I.L.M. 874 (1992)
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In 2002, the International Law Association’s (ILA) New Delhi Declaration of Principles of International Law Relating to Sustainable Development Law (New Delhi Principles) provided a different formulation, broadening the scope of the principle, echoing recognition by the Vatican: “A precautionary approach is central to sustainable development in that it commits States, international organisations and civil society, particularly the scientific and business communities, to avoid human activity which may cause significant harm to human health, natural resources or ecosystems, including in the face of scientific uncertainty.” 50
These align fully with the universal concept of Sustainable Development: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, balanced integration of social, economic and environmental aspects in development decision-making, socially and environmentally sound development...”51 The Philippines is 4th in the group of 10 most threatened forests, with “the remaining forests… also being cleared for farming and to accommodate the needs of the nation’s high population growth rate and severe rural poverty.52 On the Annual Ranking of Failed States53, the Philippines climbed higher, thanks to high population pressures. o The Philippines is in the same league as Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Laos, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in terms of population pressures, (7.7/10); overall, ranked worse than West Bank, Papua New Guinea, and Angola. The Philippines has less than 10 % of its forest cover and coral reefs remaining.54 Less than 50% of the country’s ground fresh water resources is potable.55 Untreated domestic wastewater (90%) from congested communities threatens water bodies further.56 Diseases from polluted water (31% of total illnesses), in turn, costs PhP 6.7 billion (US$134 million) annually.57 Only 1,907 cubic meters of fresh water are available to each person each year, making the Philippines 2nd to the lowest among Southeast Asian countries with fresh water availability.58 Only 39% of 525 water bodies are potential sources of drinking water.59 44% of the population earn less than $2 / day, and of 2/3 of the population are engaged in unsustainable environmental and natural resource usage.60 Population growth raises pressure to provide for a larger population, reducing the time to make necessary adjustments (technological & institutional) to accommodate larger numbers at higher living standards. 61
International Law Association (ILA) Resolution 3/2002: “New Delhi Declaration of Principles of International Law Relating To Sustainable Development” in ILA, Report of the Seventieth Conference, New Delhi (London: ILA, 2002),available online: <http://www.ila-hq.org>. 51 1987 Brundtland Report, 1992 UNCED, 2002 World Summit in Sustainable Development 52 Conservation International Report. 53 Foreign Policy Magazine’s Annual Ranking of Failed States. www.foreignpolicy.com. The Philippines climbed up the ranking and is now at 53 (2009) from 58 in 2007, driven by a key component: population pressures 54 Conservation International. Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Profiles. 2002. pp. 3-4 55 Greenpeace. State of Water Resources in the Philippines. October 2007. p. 17 56 Ibid., p. 19 57 Ibid., p. 21 58 Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). (2002) Country Profile on Environment – Philippines, Chapter 4: Current Environmental Issues. February 2002. http://www.jica.go.jp/english/global/env/profiles/pdf/03.pdf 59 EMB. 2006. National Water Quality Status Report 2001 to 2005. http://www.emb.gov.ph/wqms/2001-2005%20NWQSR/NWQSR%20%20Body.pdf and World Bank. 2003. Philippine Environment Monitor 60 State of the Philippine Environment: A Progress Report, February 2006 61 National Research Council. “Population Growth & Econ Development: Policy Questions.” Washington, D.C. National Academy Press. 1986.
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Institutional and technological responses to population do not occur automatically, entail costs, and take time to provide desired results. Slow population growth allows for more space and time to create the necessary technological and institutional adjustments. o “Slower population growth has in many countries bought more time to adjust to future population increases. This increases those countries’ ability to attack poverty, protect and repair the environment, and build the base for future sustainable development. Even the difference of a single decade in the transition to stabilization levels of fertility can have a considerable positive impact on quality of life.”62 o “Already, the Philippines shares the vicious cycle of high population growth, social conflict (insurgency, crime, rape); large migration; depleted ecosystems, food, water and energy insecurity / insufficiency/ dependence; failing governance; failing health care and education systems as part of the same group of “political and environmental hotspots”63: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Indonesia, Nepal, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. The need for limitation of births was recognized by St. Thomas Aquinas, the foremost theologian in all of human history. He claimed that reproducing in numbers that outstrip the resources of a nation is immoral and should be prevented by legislators. 64 o Saint Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that the number of children generated should not exceed the provision of the community and that this should be ensured and enforced by law as needed. o Saint Aquinas also argued that this must be ensured by law since if more than a certain number of citizens were generated, the result would be poverty, which would breed thievery, sedition, and chaos.
Figure 6: Benefits of Slower Population Growth
ICPD Programme of Action para 3.14 Diamond, Jared. “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive.” Penguin. 2005. pp. 496-499; 515-516 64 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Omnia Opera, Tomus XLVII, Sententia Libri Politicorum (Rome: Ad Sanctae Sabinae, 1971), A 140-141.
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Myth # 8: Highly populated countries like India and China are successful because of their large populations, while other countries are experiencing a “demographic winter.” FACT: India and China have been trying to reduce population growth and family sizes for decades, and their growth is due to the improving productivity of their citizens. The Philippines is 100 years away from a “demographic winter,” and even with lowered population growth and fertility rates, will already reach 160 million in 2060. Without this, the Philippines may have an unsustainable population of 240 million people.
Countries like India and China are successful because they are able to take care of their population, and have been actively trying to reduce their growth rate for decades. Their population is more productive. o India and China may have higher GDPs, but consider their significantly lower TFRs and growth rates. As comparisons are frequently drawn with Thailand, their numbers are also in the table below: Table 8.1: General comparison of India, China, Thailand and the Philippines 65 India 1.1 billion (2nd most populous) 1.4% 2.65 children 8% $3,290 10.8% China 1.3 billion (most populous country) 0.5% 1.54 children 10% $6,838 4.3% Philippines 99 million (12th most populous) 1.9% 3.23 children 7.1% $3,546 7.5% Thailand 67 million (20th most populous) 0.7% 1.65 7.6% $8,700 1.2%
Population Growth Rate Total Fertility Rate (TFR) GDP Per Capita Income Unemployment Rate
India reports several difficulties with their increasing population.66 o Environment: “Rapid population growth, developmental activities either to meet the growing population or the growing needs of the population as well as changing lifestyles and consumption patterns pose major challenge to preservation and promotion of ecological balance in India.” o Urbanization: 29% of the population lives in urban areas. “Urban population growth has outpaced the development of basic minimum services; housing, water supply, sewerage and solid waste disposal are far from adequate; increasing waste generation at home, offices and industries, coupled with poor waste disposal facilities result in rapid environmental deterioration. Increasing automobiles add to air pollution. All these have adverse effect on ecology and health. Poverty persists in urban and peri-urban areas; awareness about the glaring inequities in close urban setting may lead to social unrest.” o Rural Development: “Over 70% of India’s population still lives in rural areas,” and they are still dependent on agriculture for employment.”There is substantial under employment among these people; both wages and productivity are low. These in turn result in poverty; it is estimated that 320 million people are still living below the poverty line in rural India. Though poverty has declined over the last three decades, the number of rural poor has in fact increased due to the population growth.” o India’s government has been advocating family planning since the 50s. “By the late 1960s, many policy makers believed that the high rate of population growth was the greatest obstacle to economic development. The government began a massive program to lower the birth rate from forty-one per 1,000 to a target of twenty to twenty-five per 1,000 by the mid-1970s.” During the 1980s, an increased number of family planning programs were implemented. In rural areas, the programs were further extended through a network of primary health centers and subcenters. By 1991, India had more than 150,000 public health facilities through which family planning programs were offered.”67
CIA World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html POPULATION GROWTH - Trends, Projections, Challenges and Opportunities Working Paper No. 2/2000-PC. By Prema Ramachandran, Mohan Singh, A.N. Kapoor , K.K. Lamba, Planning Commission, Government of India 67 India, Country Studies/Area Handbook Series, Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress
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China now has a low growth rate and low TFR from its deliberate family planning policy efforts. Still, the increase in population has already done its damage: o Environment: According to the World Bank, “Much of *China’s+ energy-producing and -using equipment is both inefficient and highly polluting. As a result, China experiences severe urban air pollution that has a significant impact throughout the region. It is the world’s 2nd-largest source of GHG emissions… of the 20 cities worldwide with the most polluted air, 16 are in China.”68 o Urbanization: China has seen a drastic increase in its urban population since the 1950s. “This costs in the dislocation of people and in resource consumption, [and] will be inevitably accompanied by dramatic increases in the consumption of water, land, energy, and mineral resources’69 China today is on the verge of being majority-urban, with an estimated two thirds of Chinese living in cities by 2030 (half).”70 o Rural Development: Rapid growth and unchecked modernization have jeopardized China’s farmlands. “China’s air quality has affected vegetation and agriculture. Sulfur dioxide has given China ‘some of the world’s worst acid rain. An estimated 30% of China’s cropland is suffering from acidification, and the resulting damage to farms, forests, and human health is projected at $13 billion.’ 1/4th of China’s land is desert, and desertification is proceeding at a pace of more than 1,300 square miles/year. Practices such as ‘overcultivation, overgrazing, and firewood collection,’ along with destruction of natural vegetation, have intensified this, reducing the capacity of soil to hold water, suppresses airflow rise and convergence, enhances surface albedo, intensifies downward airflow, and ultimately leads to climatic aridification.’”71 o China’s various governments have been trying to curb their population growth since 1949. Different campaigns have tried different tactics, such as emphasis on “virtues of late marriage.” “Birth control offices were set up in 1964. The campaign was particularly successful in the cities, where the birth rate was cut in half during the 1963-66 period.”72 Notwithstanding the controversial 1-child policy implementation, nearly all the fall in the TFR took place before the 1-child policy was instituted. o China also illustrates the problem of demographic momentum – although Chinese couples on average have 1.8 children, as a result of rapid population growth a generation ago, the number of married fertile women is still growing. China has 7 million more births than deaths each year; the Philippine population will also continue to grow long after it reaches replacement level fertility. Though India and China are economically successful because of their large population, “This has been attributed to the increase in productivity due to development and utilization of innovative technologies by the young educated population who formed the majority of the growing population. o These have been able to exploit the dynamics of demographic transition to achieve economic growth by using human resources as the driver of economic development; improved employment with adequate emoluments has promoted saving and investment which in turn stimulated economic growth.”73 o The ‘demographic dividend (changing age structure) that followed access to family planning is thought to account for up tone third of the economic growth.74 The prospect of a so-called “demographic winter” – birth death, aging, etc. – while occurring in varying degrees in highly advanced countries, is as distant as about 100 years from today for the Philippines.75
Cann, C.W., Cann, M.C., & Gao Shangquan. 2005. China's road to sustainable development: An overview. China's Environment and the Challenge of Sustainable Development. New York, M.E. Sharpe. pp. 3-34. 69 Urbanization, sustainability and the utilization of energy and mineral resources in China, Lei Shen, Shengkui Cheng, Aaron James Gunson, Hui Wan. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), CAS, Beijing 100101, PR China. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4. China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, PR China 70 China and the Path to Environmental Sustainability, by Ethan Goffman. Released August 2007. http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/china/review.pdf 71 Ibid. 72 China, Country Studies/Area Handbook Series, Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress 73 POPULATION GROWTH - Trends, Projections, Challenges and Opportunities Working Paper No. 2/2000-PC. By Prema Ramachandran, Mohan Singh, A.N. Kapoor , K.K. Lamba, Planning Commission, Government of India
Birdsall, N., A. C. Kelley, et al. (2001). Population matters: demographic change, economic growth, and poverty in the developing world, Oxford University Press, USA.
Pernia, Ernesto PhD, et al. Population and Development: the Real Score.” University of the Philippines. 2004. pp. 14-15
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Projections indicate that, if TFR continues to decline by 0.2 children every five years, replacement fertility of 2.1 children per woman would be reached only by 2040 (See Figure 8.2). However, the effects of population momentum would persist for another 60 years before population ceases to grow, by which time the Philippines’ total population would be 240 million. For example, Thailand’s population, which has reached below-replacement fertility for some time, continues to grow owing to population momentum. The UP School of Economics affirms that, “Much of the talk of a demographic winter is greatly exaggerated and can only be regarded as a plain and simple scare tactic to instill fear in people’s minds. It appears to be peddled by people who are simply unaware of population dynamics or, worse, who intend to mislead.”76 As empirically proven, a high quality family planning program (access to education, provision of modern and natural family planning methods) can reduce high fertility rates closer to replacement rats than economic development or poverty reduction alone.77 Figure 8.2 Population Momentum in the Philippines
Table 1: The year in which a country reaches replacement level fertility has a major impact on its ultimate population size.
Total fertility rate: 3.2 (2010) Unmet need for family planning: 17% (2008)
Population Reference Bureau
Pernia, Ernesto PhD, et al. Population and Development: the Real Score.” University of the Philippines. 2004. Boongarts, J. The Role of Family Planning Programmes in Contemporary Fertility Transitions.” in, The Continuing Demographic Transition. Jones, G.W, et al (eds.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1997. See Also, Tsui, A.O. “Population Policies, Family Planning Programs, and Fertility: for the Record. In, Global Fertility Transition. Bulatao, R.A. and Casterline, J.B (eds.). Population and Development Review. Supplement to Vol. 27. New York: Population Council.
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Myth #9: Family planning through modern contraceptives is against the Philippine Constitution. FACT: The Philippine Constitution and Philippine commitments to International Agreements allows family planning and the use of modern methods. Philippine Constitution of 1987: couples have the basic human right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children. (Article XV, Section 3. Declaration of Principles & State Policies, Section 9, 12, 14, 15, and 16 of the 1987 Constitution, cited in the PPHP Directional Plan (2001-2004) Philippine Constitution supports health and development. “The State shall…
o o “…protect & promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. (Art. II. Sec. 15) “…adopt an integrated & comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health & other social services available to all the people at affordable cost. There shall be priority for the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women & children. The State shall endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers.” (Art. XIII. Sec. 11) “…defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.” (Art. XV. Sec. 3. )
Under the Filipino constitution, those millions of citizens who are Protestant, Moslem or belong to other faiths have an incontestable right to choose whatever method of family planning they wish to use and the government has a responsibility for optimizing the health of its citizens according the best scientific evidence. o Catholic bishops and Church leaders, if they are to truly honors the statements on religious toleration elaborated in Vatican II, also have a moral obligation to respect the sincere beliefs of others. Ireland, a progressive, developed and predominantly Catholic Country, has a Constitution similar to the Philippines, wherein, “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws, to defend and vindicate that right (Article 40, Sec. 3.3). o In light of this, the Irish government has a family planning policy that funds and delivers all modern contraceptive methods including IUDs, pills, injectables, and implants. As a sovereign state pursuant to its Constitution, the Philippines is a signatory of the ff. international treaties, conferences, and conventions that enshrine reproductive health: o United Nations declaration that Reproductive Health is a human right, and “these rights are basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. In addition, it also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents. o First Conference on Human Rights in 1968 accepted that “parents have a basic right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to do so.” o Through the “United Nations Decade for Women” (1976-1985) that targeted improvements in women’s status, and the third World Conference on Women (Nairobi Conference) in 1985, recognition that “women’s rights are human rights” was spread throughout the world. o The World Summits on Sustainable Development (Rio and Johannesburg), which advocate “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” balanced integration of social, economic and environmental aspects in development decision-making, socially and environmentally sound development...”78 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the Philippines and some 180 States in the 55th United Nations General Assembly in September 2000 (the Millennium Assembly) Four of the eight development goals were directly related to reproductive health:
o o o o Goal 3: eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015; Goal 4: reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five; Goal 5: reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio; Goal 6: halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
1987 Brundtland Report, 1992 UNCED, 2002 World Summit in Sustainable Development
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Myth #10: Islam, Christianity and other major religions forbid contraception. FACT: Islam, most Christian denominations, and other major religions allow couples to use modern and natural methods to plan their families. The governments of Catholic countries have accepted family planning policies with State provision of modern and natural family planning methods.
This is an inaccurate generalization. Religions all over the world have their own stances regarding contraception, and even within a particular faith (such as Christianity), there are divisions regarding what the official stance is. Perceptions about population concerns are similarly varied. It has been made clear by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines is firmly against contraception. Catholic countries like Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Paraguay and Ireland all prohibit abortion as a family planning method even as they vigorously promote contraceptive use. o Similar countries have family planning policies allowing contraceptives, and have lowered their fertility rates to sustainable levels, enabling families to plan their desired sizes (See Tables 3 and 4). o The Philippines is the only Catholic country that has not adopted a family planning policy.
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Table 4: Catholic Countries with Modern Family Planning Methods and Lower Fertility Rates Country %Catholic TFR before FP became available TFR after FP became available
Italy Spain Portugal Mexico Brazil Malta
90 88 90 87 79 98
2.47 2.92 2.88 6.5 6.15 4.1
1.4 1.4 1.3 2.2 2.0 1.4
Source: World Health Organization, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Chile serves as a model of how a predominantly Catholic country can pioneer a family planning program with the support of the Catholic Church, academe, and international community.79 o Educational institutions e.g., Universidad Católica and the Universidad de Chile and academics from FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales) served as centers of scholarly, scientific, and medical research and practice and provided the knowledge base to guide family planning policy. o The Chilean medical, scientific, and political community also advocated reducing the size of families and the judicious use of family planning. o The Catholic Church hierarchy promoted such policies because they felt it would reduce the alarmingly high rates of induced abortions that were then prevalent in Chile. o Chilean medical & scholarly communities shared a unity of purpose with U.S. foundations and agencies such as the Population Council and the Ford & Rockefeller foundations, U.S. government agencies such as AID or the Inter-American Development Bank; and regional institutions, such as the PanAmerican Health Organization. o The government joined the Church in supporting modern methods to decrease the high rate of abortions. Today, Chile has a sustainable fertility rate, one of the largest GDP-per capita and Human Development Indices, and is an OECD country that has risen out of a military dictatorship and feudal system. Ireland, another progressive, developed and predominantly Catholic Country, has a Constitution similar to the Philippines, where “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws, to defend and vindicate that right (Article 40, Sec. 3.3). o In light of this, the Irish government has a family planning policy that funds and delivers all modern contraceptive methods including IUDs, pills, injectables, and implants. Catholic Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas’ sums up the need for the separation of Church and State, and the rights of all faiths under the Constitution80:
“Very much involved in the debate about contraception is the matter of religious liberty. We have to be aware of the fact that we live in a pluralist society where various religious groups disagree about the morality of artificial contraception. Freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. And this freedom is violated when one is compelled to act against one’s belief or is prevented from acting according to one’s belief. In our society, while people of good faith may find near unanimity on the matter of abortion as defined in the Penal Code, there clearly is sharp division in the matter of contraception. The division is drawn largely along religious lines. The official Catholic teaching, for instance, is that only natural family planning is allowed. The religion of many non-Catholics, however, prescribes a different set of rules on sexual morality. And, as much as Catholics, they too have the right of moral equality and moral freedom under our democratic system.”
Power, Margaret. Gender, Modernity, and Technology: Chile during Four Different Political Regimes, 1964-2000. Illinois Institute of Technology. 2004. Bernas, Joaquin, SJ. “Back to the RH Bill.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. 7 February 2011
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The three other major religions in the country (Islam, Protestantism and the Iglesia ni Cristo), support family planning, state funding for contraceptives, and the legislation promoting both modern and natural family planning. Bishop Rodrigo Tano, the chairperson of the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, has presented the perspectives of the other faiths in the Philippines.81 (See Table 9.1) Table 9.1: Views on Contraception and Reproductive Health by other Religions Islam Protestantism (UCCP, Baptists, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran) The procreative and unitive purposes of marriage can be separate. Population growth rates and economic development are interrelated. Reproductive health methods (such as contraception) that are legal, safe and moral are acceptable, whether natural or artificial. Iglesia Ni Kristo
Safe and legal methods of family planning are acceptable and aligned with the Koran. Family planning and reproductive health programs should be non-coercive, responsible and informed. Contraception is permissible, with these conditions: 1. The birth control method should be used with both parties' consent. 2. The method should not cause permanent sterility. 3. The method should not otherwise harm the body.
- We must uphold the balance between population and development as faithful stewardship. - There must be informed and free choice when it comes to reproductive health. - Contraception, whether artificial or natural, is allowed as a way towards responsible parenthood, including the control of family size to insure quality of life.
Islamic countries have adopted modern family methods with significantly positive development results. o In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, contraceptive use contributed to 75% of the fertility decline,82 enabling the State to sustainably provide for its previously rapid growing population. Changes in Indonesia’s education and economic development increased contraceptive use and subsequent fertility decline were only possible because an organized supply delivery system of contraceptives existed. o Iran, a virtual Muslim theocracy, has achieved one of the world’s most successful family planning programs. Despite economic and political hardships, the newly established government recognized the risks of a ballooning population and prioritized the implementation of a national population policy. Full support of religious and community leaders, a well established primary health care infrastructure and intelligent resource allocation resulted in a rapid decline in fertility and population growth. This trend has had positive impacts on women’s health, education, and human development, and will help preserve natural resources for future generations. o The rapid drop in Iran’s fertility rate was also concurrent with remarkable decreases in infant, child and maternal mortality rates—a result of increased maternal and child care (See Figure 2).
Rodrigo Tano, “Ongoing Discussion: Reactions from Different Sectors – The Religious Perspective,” Philippine Population in Focus: Myths and Challenges, 28 August 2010. 82 Gertler, P. J., & Molyneaux, J. W. (1994). How economic development and family planning programs combined to reduce Indonesian fertility. Demography, 31(1).
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The Philippines is populated by more than just the Roman Catholic faith. If any sort of fair analysis of contraception and reproductive health is to be discussed along the lines of religion, it should consider all of these factors, and protect the rights of all citizens regardless of belief. For the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, it must align with how other predominantly Catholic countries have addressed reproductive health and family planning policies. The current bills with family planning and provision of modern contraceptives* are compatible with the Church’s social teachings, including the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, integral human development and the primacy of conscience. In this light they urge that the Church listen to them as responsible Catholic laity who offer their Church the advantage of evidenced-based approaches to the evolving needs of 21st-century Philippine society. *Key features of these measures are: o State to promote without bias all effective medically safe & legal natural & modern family planning methods o Provision of information, care and supplies to be the joint responsibility of the national and local government o Abortion made illegal and freedom of choice guaranteed by the state o The DOH spearheading the procurement and distribution of family planning supplies to all LGUs o Integration of family planning and responsible parenthood component in anti-poverty programs o Mandatory age appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education o Creation of a joint congressional oversight committee to oversee its implementation
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Possible penalty of 1-6 months in jail or fine of P10,000 to P50,000 for anyone who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of the act Prominent theologians have called for a refocusing on the Catholic Church’s leadership toward83: o A clear admission and recognition of the burden of large family sizes on the poor. o A dialogue* with government on providing a holistic approach toward family planning, poverty alleviation, and equitable growth, and partnering with the government in carrying our family planning, even if its focuses on natural methods within its membership. o Forming consciences through value formation of its members in making rational decisions on adopting family planning programs within its teachings, amidst choices provided by the State (supported by other religions).
* The conditions for such dialogue have been outlined by Bishop Pablo David84: “*Dialogue+ can only be possible, however, if we first suspend our pre-judgments and our tendencies to label anyone who doesn’t agree with us as anti-life, anti-God, or anti-family. It is counter-productive to simply take a sharp adversarial stance or a posture of militancy. We might end up alienating more people, or marginalizing ourselves.”
Catholics must examine their own doctrines and their role as members of the Church in upholding the spirit of its teachings in the modern world, especially with regard to the experience of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae.85 o Humanae Vitae is not an infallible doctrine. When Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1968, over 600 Catholic theologians signed a document saying that this encyclical was not binding on Catholics and that Catholic couples could feel free in good conscience to disagree with the ban on artificial contraceptives.86 o Roman Catholic hierarchies in 14 different nations agreed with the theologians. As Catholic theologian Christine Gudorf writes: “When Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical retaining the ban on artificial contraception was issued in 1968, the Episcopal conferences of 14 different nations issued pastoral letters assuring their laity that those who could not in good faith accept this teaching were not sinners.”87 o Recently Pope Benedict XVI said that condoms could be used in sexual intercourse to prevent the transmission of HIV. This shows that in his view the use of condoms can be justified in certain circumstances, and that condom-assisted intercourse is not in itself intrinsically evil. If it were intrinsically evil (such as, for example, rape) it could never be justified for any reason. o Catholic theologians now insist that the use of effective contraception is not just permissible but mandatory when the failure to do so would result in births of babies for whom the individual couple or the community cannot adequately provide.88 o Bernardo Colombo, who participated in the Commission, concludes his account:89 "The growth of world population levels has slowed. Noting this, some have said that ´The Church was right´: in essence, demographic problems are resolved with time and not by impairing the moral conduct that the Church sees as acceptable. These are foolish opinions. They do not take into account the fact that this slowing did not come like manna from heaven, but was to a great extent caused by the extension of contraceptive practices contrary to Church teaching into developing countries."
Carroll, John, S.J. “Addressing Demographic Realities: A Complementary Perspective.” A Balancing Act: Social & Catholic Perspectives on Population and Development. John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues. Philippine Center for Population and Development. 2008. 84 David, Randy.. “A Shepherd in the Family.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. Makati City. p. 11. 16 July 2006 85 Bernardo Colombo . A Discussion of Birth Control: Personal Experiences and Reflections. Teologia.Theological faculty of Milan. March 2003 pp. 7298. See also, http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/6960?eng=y 86 Charles Curran, Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian (Georgetown, Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2007, 49-69 87 Professor Christine Gudorf, “Contraception and Abortion in Roman Catholicism,” in Daniel C. Maguire, Editor, Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 2002, 71. 88 Professor Daniel C. Maguire, Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit university. 89 Bernardo Colombo . A Discussion of Birth Control: Personal Experiences and Reflections. Teologia.Theological faculty of Milan. March 2003 pp. 7298. See also, http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/6960?eng=y