Empowering the Filipino Family and Nation through Responsible Parenthood 1.

The family is the primary unit and foundation of society. A nation’s future depends on an informed and responsible family. It must be empowered with education and choice to contribute to nation-building.
 Studies, experience, and common sense show that larger family sizes increase poverty incidence and lower opportunities to invest resources in education and health.

Statistics and national surveys increasingly show that a growing number and majority of Filipinos believe that family planning is important, and prefer smaller family sizes:
o Filipino parents want smaller family sizes but cannot reach their desired targets due to poor access to education and family planning methods, especially if they belong to the lower socio-economic classes. 1  Self-rated poverty increase as family sizes increase. Support for personal choice for modern methods (82%), family planning education (73%) and laws providing modern 2 family planning (68%) is very high among both men and women, whether single or married, in all areas of the country. 3 7 out of 10 of Filipinos across socio-economic classes and geographic regions support the Responsible Parenthood bill

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The Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy must align its stance with other predominantly Catholic countries that have allowed state-owned reproductive health and family planning policies.
o Predominantly 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 their governments vigorously promote family planning and contraceptive use, while the Philippines has not.

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The 3 other major religions in the country – Islam, Protestantism and the Iglesia ni Cristo – support family planning, state funding for contraceptives, and legislation promoting both modern and natural family planning.4 According to a prominent Filipino theologian, “modern family planning is also pro‐life, pro‐quality‐life.
o 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 5 design, and not left to a ‘bahala‐na’ attitude.

Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas’ affirms the Church-State separation, & the Constitutional rights of all faiths6: o “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. 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.”

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Social Weather Station Survey Review. 2012. www.sws.org.ph Social Weather Station Survey Review. 2012. www.sws.org.ph Pulse Asia Survey 2010. www.pulseasia.com.ph 4 Bishop Rodrigo Tano, “Reactions from Different Sectors – The Religious Perspective,” Philippine Population in Focus: Myths and Challenges, 28 August 2010. 5 Tanseco, Ruben, S.J. “Population Crisis” The Philippine Star (August 8, 2004), p. 16 6 Bernas, Joaquin, SJ. “Back to the RH Bill.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. 7 February 2011

2. The Filipino family and citizenry need to be protected and empowered by transparent education, objective information, and access to medically acceptable options to enable them to exercise responsible choices.
   Filipino families want more manageable family sizes to plan their resources sustainably, but are unable to because of a lack of objective information and options for safe and medically certified family planning methods. The World Health Organization (WHO) affirms that oral contraceptives are medically safe and reduce the risk of cancer, particularly ovarian, endometrial, and bowel cancers.7 The latest comprehensive study has shown that medically certified contraceptives REDUCE cancer risk.8

Natural Family Planning (NFP) only programs are ineffective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, and never played a role in fertility decline in any country. o NFP has a 25.3% failure rate and results in 35% of abortions.9
o o Non‐users and NFP users account for 9 of 10 unintended pregnancies. NFP programs are only used by 0.5% of married women in the Philippines, despite Catholic Church programs.  The largest documented NFP program by the Catholic Church resulted in only less than 1% success (27 out of 390 11 users) after 4 years of effort. The latest US and Philippine research show that governments annually spend a minimum of Php 5.5 billion in 12 healthcare costs to address unintended pregnancies and their complications. By contrast, only Php 2.0‐3.5 billion annually is needed to fund a comprehensive range of voluntary family planning services for the entire country, which also results in a more sustainable population to provide for. UNICEF maintains that “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race. This would still be true even if there were no such thing as a population 13 problem, if one just considers the prevention of maternal and infant deaths from unwanted conceptions.” In December 2010 alone, 174 new HIV cases were reported, a 38% increase from the same month in 2009 and the highest number of cases reported in a single month since 1984. 15 Infections among young people 15 to 24 years of age increased 10 times from 2007‐2010 and 89% from 2010-2011. While other countries have reversed their HIV transmission trends with age-appropriate sex education and access to protection, the Philippines has not because of the Catholic Church hierarchy’s interference in enacting these policies.
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Investing in family planning services saves several billion pesos, which can be used for critical social services.
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UNICEF notes the Philippines is 1 of only 7 countries where HIV cases increased by over 25% from 2001‐2009.14
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The WHO states that over 1,000 reports on sex education programs worldwide show that sex education courses did not lead to earlier sexual intercourse. In some cases they delayed it.16
o  According to the United Nations, 22 studies found sexual health education delayed the onset of sexual activity, reduced the number of sexual partners, or reduced unplanned pregnancy and STD rates. 17 Only 3 studies found increases in sexual behavior associated with sexual health education.

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WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) MONOGRAPHS. VOLUME 91 Combined Estrogen‐Progestogen Contraceptives and Combined Estrogen‐Progestogen Menopausal Therapy (2007). pp. 169‐170 8 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 9 http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html 10 Research Institute for Mindanao Culture and the Prelature of Ipil. “An Assessment of the All-NFP Program.Philippine Council for Population and Development. 2008. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/MWCNPmethodology/pdf 11 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. 12 http://www.likhaan.org/content/health‐benefits‐family‐planning‐and‐reproductive‐health 13 UNICEF Annual Report.1992. http://www.unicef.org/sowc/index_38236.html 14 United Nations Children’s Fund. “State of the World’s Children.” 2010 15 Tubeza, Philip. HIV Cases Rose 89% in November – DOH. Philippine Dailyu Inquirer. 2 January 2011. p. A9 16 UNAIDS: Impact of HIV and sexual health education on the sexual behavior of young people. United Nations. 1997. pp. 5, 41‐63 17 Meeting the needs of young adults. Population Reports . October 1, 1995. http://info.k4health.org/pr/j41/j41print.shtml

3. The evidence is clear. If Filipino families are unable to exercise informed, responsible choice according to objective science and individual conscience, the country as a whole will fail to meet its development goals and persist in inequality, poverty, and social conflict.

The Philippines climbed higher on the Annual Ranking of Failed States18, 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, it ranked worse than the West Bank, Papua New Guinea, and Angola.

Even with a lower population growth rate, if the number of dependents per Filipino family remains unsustainable as a result from a family’s inability to properly plan its size and resources, the country is expected to double its population from 2000 to 2040. (See Below)
o o This strains the nation’s resources at the expense of future generations of families and citizens. Growing population has increased the Philippines’ resource demand from less than its own biocapacity in 1961 to more 19 than double its domestically available biocapacity in 2002.

 Asian Development Bank: “Population growth is not a problem if resources are available to cope with 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.”20
o With a 65% youth dependency rate, the Philippines’ ‘youth bulge’ is a national security risk. Regions with the highest ‘youth bulges’ are prone to poverty‐related conflicts. Between 1970‐ 1999, 80% of civil conflicts occurred in countries 21 where 60% or more of the population were under age 30.

Already, the Philippines shares the “vicious cycle of high population growth, social conflict; large migration; depleted ecosystems, food, water and energy insecurity/insufficiency/dependence; failing governance; failing health care and education systems as “political and environmental hotspots as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Indonesia, Nepal, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, and the Solomon Islands.”22 United Nations: countries with higher population growth score lower in human development.23
o o o The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world and placed 97th out of 169 countries in quality of life in the UNDP’s 2010 Human Development Report.16 China, the world’s most populous country, ranks 89th; India, 119th; and Pakistan and Bangladesh, which rank 6th and 7th, respectively, in terms of largest populations, are 125th and 129th in human development. The top three countries in human development – Norway, Australia and New Zealand – all have extremely lean total populations and low fertility and population growth rates.

The need for limitation of births was recognized by St. Thomas Aquinas, the foremost theologian in human history. Aquinas proclaimed that reproducing in numbers that outstrip the resources of a nation is immoral and should be prevented by legislators. 24

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Foreign Policy Magazine’s Annual Ranking of Failed States. www.foreignpolicy.com. Philippines climbed the ranking and is now at 53 (2009) from 58 in 2007, driven by a key component: population pressures 19 World and Country Trends. Global Footprint Network. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_for_nations/ 20 Asian Development Bank.Causes of Poverty in the Philippines. 2004. http://www.adb.org/documents/books/poverty‐in‐the‐philippines/chap6.pdf 21 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 22 Diamond, Jared. “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive.” Penguin. 2005. pp. 496‐499; 515‐516 23 United Nations Development Report. 2010. www.undp.org 24 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Omnia Opera, Tomus XLVII, Sententia Libri Politicorum (Rome: Ad Sanctae Sabinae, 1971), A 140-141.