Filipinos back contraception bill despite Catholic Church-poll
(Photo: A reproductive health advocate dressed as a condom distributes condoms to jeepney passengers in Manila March 1, 2010/Romeo Ranoco)
Seven in 10 Filipinos support a reproductive health bill permitting education on contraception which would also help check population growth, despite opposition from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The Church, a major social and political force in the poor Southeast Asian nation of about 95 million, has blocked similar bills since the 1990s and earlier this year denounced President Benigno Aquino’s support for contraception.
The bill is in the early stages of consideration by Congress, and proponents are confident it can be enacted into law given it has the backing of Aquino, who says slowing population growth will help fight poverty.
Father Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the bill was “an attack to the sanctity of life and indirectly promotes abortion”. The Church backs “natural” contraception while opposing “artificial” methods, including condoms, pills and other means. Ana Maria Tabunda of Pulse Asia, the group which conducted the survey, told Reuters the Church’s attack on Aquino over education had raised awareness of and support for the bill.
Pope Benedict praised Philippine bishops for opposing the bill during their once-every-five-years ad limina visit to the Vatican on Monday: “I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking to play its part in support of human life from conception until natural death, and in defence of the integrity of marriage and the family. In these areas you are promoting truths about the human person and about society.”