Sunday, October 26, 2008

Destructive Dogma and Demographics

As I briefly mentioned in my original post, overpopulation is one of the most pressing issues in the Philippines. When my wife emigrated from that country in 1969, the population was approximately 35 million. In 37 years it has mushroomed to over 85 million, and about 28% of this growth has occurred since 1990 when according to The Philippines: A Country Study the population was 66 million. And according to the Philippine Information Agency, this country has one of the world's highest growth rates. Although this percentage has dropped steadily since the 1960's, neverthless it will generate a doubling of the population every 29 years well into this century, according to A Country Study.

While contraceptives are available, the Philippine government does not encourage the use of artificial birth control methods. The driving force against instituting such a program is the Catholic Church, specifically the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines). The President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, also opposes it. The most that the Council and the President will support is NFP (Natural Family Planning), more widely known as the rhythm method ("Vatican roulette"). This entails a couple's having sex only during the woman's so-called infertile time of the month, which in some cases cannot be accurately calculated. In other words, couples must abstain from sex during the rest of the month.

However, a large majority of the people are not buying this bill of goods. A recent poll shows that 71% of Catholics actually want access to artificial birth control methods and support the proposed Reproductive Health Bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Edcel Lagman. This law would not only allow other means of family planning besides the unreliable NFP, it would also encourage sex education in schools with the goal for youngsters to learn responsibility in this area.

As might be expected, President Arroyo said that she would veto such legislation. She says that she is "pro-birth spacing but against "birth control" (huh?). Apparently she has no qualms about imposing her views on the rest of the country, and because she is the Chief Executive, she has the power to do so.

Through some twisted logic, the CBCP has declared all forms of birth control as "abortion" which of course the Church prohibits. But speaking of abortion, each year thousands of women in the Philippines take this course of action. Most of them are poor, married (as opposed to the sterotyped single woman in a one night stand or other uncommited relationship), and are already mothers. Further, they do not have access to or knowlege about birth control and usually choose to terminate their pregancies because they cannot afford any more children. And because they are impoverished and abortion is outlawed, this procedure is typically performed under unsafe and/ or unsanitary counditons by unqualified practitioners. Consequently, many of these women die or suffer health problems for the rest of their lives.

I mentioned the following points in my original post in this blog, but they bear repeating here. To underscore the hypocrisy of the CBCP in the matter of birth control, thousands of children in the Philippines are conceived by parents who live in dire porverty and who cannot or will not take care of them. As a result, these kids, some of whom are as young as four years old are abandoned and are reduced to begging in the street. In turn many fall prey to syndicates who exploit them. Yet the Church does not operate one single orphanage or otherwise provide for these children.

Under these circumstances, for the CBCP and the President to claim that they are "pro-life" is positively grotesque. As long as there is so much as one homeless child and as long as the Philippines is subjected to the high child and maternity mortality rates that kill so many infants and mothers and which are poverty generated, the Church has no business meddling or interfering in national population policy.


DJB Rizalist said...

Hello there Rick Levy. Please join the lively debate and discussion on this topic over at Filipino Voices

Is the Reproductive Health Bill Unconstitutional

Resolved: That Abortion Be Decriminalized

Remove the Anti-poor Bans on Divorce and Abortion

When Does Human Life Begin?

The Catholic Magisterium on Contraception

Support the Reproductive Health Bill

Some Fallacies in the Reproductive Health Bill Debate

We'd love to hear your opinion on this crucial national issue.

Michael M. said...

Excellent, well researched article. Yep, let the 29% of Catholics that want to run everyone elese's life take care of the unwanted kids that continue to be born.