Sunday, February 10, 2008

Church Control of Contraception

Women from Manila's poorest sector have decided to temporarily stop making love, and have declared war against the Catholic Church for pressuring local officials to ban the use of contraceptives and its free access to indigent couples and sex workers. They have filed a legal challenge against Executive Order 003, issued by then Mayor Lito Atienza, which supports natural Family Planning, but carefully worded to avoid mentioning an outright ban on artificial contraception. The Executive Order, which follows the devolution of health services to local governments, have caused the disappearance of all family planning initiatives and services in the city; including the access to free pills, condoms and other effective contraception methods.

The influence of the Catholic Church is undeniably forceful. The Philippines' 80 million population is 82% Roman Catholic, and the pressure it applies on the politicians and government officials who are mostly Catholics, is the withdrawal of the Catholic vote; or a massive demonstration by catholic organized groups that could pressure the government into a very public capitulation. President Gloria Arroyo, herself being a devout Catholic, supports the Church ban on contraception in a country where abortion is banned and considered a criminal offense.

During the 1970s, the USAID initiated a massive family planning program supported by then President Ferdinand Marcos under a martial law regime. Commitments by the Philippine Government to the program were continued until after Marcos fled, but hardly supported by then President Corazon Aquino. The program by the end of the 1990s was considered a big failure and was not renewed. USAID pulled the program out in frustration. But from the time Marcos initiated family planning, the Church and its grassroots organizations in the rural areas and cities outside Manila, condemned the artificial methods as an evil that promotes promiscuity and sin. The priests spewed fire from the pulpits and went to the extent of excommunicating the officials and extension workers of the country's Population Commission.

The women of Manila claim that the Executive Order has caused unwanted pregnancies, pushed them farther into poverty, and has harmed their health and well being. In addition, refusing their husbands at times led to quarrels that became violent. The policy is discriminatory since costs of contraceptives impact only on the poor. Rich women can afford to buy contraceptives.The case will also be filed in international courts and will seek assistance from US based organizations like the Center for Reproductive Rights, since the ban violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to plan a family based on individual beliefs. The case filed in Manila will be a tough battle since Pope Benedict XVI stated recently that the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa (60% of 40 million have Aids), should be tackled with fidelity and abstinence and not by condoms. Being the Pontiff, his words would carry a lot of weight in a Catholic dominated country.

It's as if the Catholic Church wants to make sexual deprivation the greatest achievement of mankind since splitting the atom. Ignoring the disease, poverty, hunger and environmental pressure of large populations, it insists on the traditional view that sex is only for procreation of children and should not be enjoyed for its own sake. And this present Pope is a traditionalist, who may just as well have said that castration is the next best thing after abstinence to prevent AIDS and population increase. Coming from someone who presumably hasn't had sex or made love in a very long time, or none in his lifetime; the proposition will create neurotics out of everyone and will remove one of the last bastions of gratitude to God when heaven is reached at that precise moment of total ecstasy.

The women of Manila must be openly supported, especially by the intelligent, educated, and middle class Catholics who still hide in the shadows of the silent majority. Worldwide support from women's groups should also be tapped to put pressure on the Church to reconsider its views in the light of realities in poverty, disease, and environmental concerns.

Most of all, the men, who will be equally affected, if not the most affected, should stand up and raise their objection to the ban. Otherwise, they will turn into Christmas trees where the thing is dead at the roots, and the balls are only for decoration.



Kim said...

this situation will not improve as long as the Catholic Church continues to enforce its bans...
a very interesting post Durano..
I watched a documentary about Bertram Wainer the other day ...and the problem here is the same...women are still not deemed 'important' enough to have a say in this very controversial issue especially when the politicians who have the power are catholic..
sad ...very sad..

upyours said...

Pres. Arroyo is not a devout Catholic, as are a lot of Filipino politicos. They are photo-opp Catholics. Devoutly religious people of whatever color do not lie and cheat and line their pockets with public funds.
First thing Filipinos should do is to shake off the Arroyo regime like a bad case of fleas. Second, repudiate the stifling and stunting Roman Catholic Church. From personal experience, they'll find this proposition a truly liberating act. Your skin won't peel off, nor lightning strike you dead, believe me.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

I don't understand the Catholics until now. In High School, all I was doing was to seek clarifications and they castigated me. It seems that their idea of faith is to literally and figuratively lead their flock like a herd of sheep.

Until this time, they haven't changed much. Pope John Paul II opened a lot of windows and eased some of the more stringent practices, but this Pope is really a fundamentalist, and that does not augur well for Ecumenism.

The politicians in the Philippines are Catholic in name but not in practice. The comment below you is true, they are mostly photo ops catholics.

Women are at a loss really. They carry the burden of raising families and the added guilt of having to face additional hardships with every child born. It really is sad. Thanks for the pleasant presence. :-) --Durano, done!

Tapline said...

I had a terrific comment section completed and the whole thing disappeared and it doesn't save either....Oh well, I'll try again, but my last was outstanding....I think, because I am an protestant, It's easy for me to comment on this topic. When God created man and out of man, woman he also gave them freedom of choice , or the ability to choose. He didn't say "well!,,,,I think I will give that decision to think for man to another." For this reason, Birth control, to me, is something that is between the man and the woman. If you can't contol you emotions, then use something, especially if you have or could catch a disease. God gave man the ability to think and choose. The Church didn't give that to you it is a God given right to choose. As I said It's easy for me to speak, but if you can not afford to raise a child which is the greater sin???? I ramble.....stay well....

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi upyours,

Welcome. I will have to agree with you on Mrs. Arroyo being a devout Catholic. I should have said "takes the Catholic rituals devoutly".

Shaking the Arroyo regime is fine with me. The Roman Catholic Church, well, that will take a long time and a tedious process to accomplish. The Church has embedded certain superstitions within its teachings` that culturally,Filipinos may find difficult to shake away.

In the long run I believe, it will do the Filipinos a lot of good if they do shake them away. --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tapline,

I agree with you too. Free will was given, and the means to implement it remains with the individual; not dictated by another nor an institution.

Control emotions or control its consequences - I agree with. Having children you will raise in misery - that's the greater sin. I agree.
--Durano, done!

upyours said...

Hi Durano,
Thanks for the welcome. I've been reading your posts but hardly felt the need to disagree nor augment your arguments. Except for this one. You really hit an issue that is closest to my heart.
Really now, how many Filipinos still believe, deep in their hearts, all these superstitious nonsense that the Roman Catholic Church has been peddling for the past 2,000 or so years? It truly is the biggest scam in history.
People can suspend disbelief only for so long, and never on an empty stomach.
Here's what I think: the Israelis are holding all the forensic evidence that will dispel this Jesus myth once and for all. They've had all those burial boxes since the early 80's and allowed a docu to be shown only last year. I think they just don't want to rock the Christian world at this time and make some more enemies. After all, they KNOW that Jesus was but a man. Is it any wonder then that the Jews reacted to the Pope's assing around with that prayer for the Jews' conversion?
Stay well, Durano. Ad majorem Spitting Vessel gloriam.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Upyours,
A very incisive comment. Are you a former seminarian by chance? Just asking, its beside the point really.

The superstitions, fallacies, misinterpretations, embellishments, and all other human frailties that have corrupted this religion comes with a disclaimer, remember?: "The Holy Sacrifice of the mass is not dependent on the worthiness or unworthiness of the celebrant". This is one good reason to encourage the faithful to hear mass even if the priest is a sexual abuser or pedophile, anyway, he will only be labeled one when there's a complaint. And this is hard to come by and believe, especially in a country like the Philippines.

All these conflicts involving religious beliefs are driven by marketing. Everyone wants to say that their faith is better than others to generate more members. And more members means more to exploit.This mindset has therefore created religious intolerance that is rooted in the current wars. It goes back to the Crusades where Christians massacred the "heathen" who refused conversion, but it was more of a cover to plunder the country and take their wealth.

This orientation was brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines, who pushed the Muslims south in Mindanao from their enclave in Manila. The Muslims had to take a stand somehow.

This same orientation is very much alive today, still mixed together with economic and political agenda, and using patriotism to generate support.

I'll bet you know who said "religion is the opium of the people" :-)--Durano, done!

Manila Sex Ban Featured at International News Media said...

[...] Atienza’s contraceptive ban is featured in international mainstream media. [...]

Tapline said...

Durano, I just had to respond to the post by upyours and his anti-religion blast. He is really angry at the thought of Jesus being God. If he has been harmed by his religion, I'm sorry, but it doesn't help to try to bad mouth Christianity because he feels as Stalin "Religion is the opium of the Masses", (I beiieve it was Joe??) Either him of his founder Karl Marx....) Believe it or not, Religion has also helped millions find a better way to deal with situations that arrise in daily life.....I ramble....stay well....maybe he should look into Humanism.....That will be the up and coming wave of the future.....

upyours said...

Maybe tapline should look into rationalism. This wave has been around and will likely be around longer.
The trouble is that religion is very uncomfortable with critical thought. It does not take a Ph.D, just sheer common sense, to realize that some of the teachings of the Catholic faith are just plain old b.s.
Religion's purpose is to instill an ethos. Almost always, across most religions, it is to "do good, avoid evil". This is the core of the morality that most Judeo-Christian denominations want to instill. Do you really need to perpetuate the various fictions (Jesus' divinity, the virgin birth, transfigurations, etc.) to drive this lesson home?
Which leads me to another point. There is a higher morality than religion. And it's ok if you read a book with a character other than Jesus.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tapline and Upyours,

Tap, you're arguing for the benefits that faith in God provides interms of dealing with situations that arise in daily life.

Upyours is pointing to the fact that the basic element in any religion is to do good and avoid evil, which presupposes that there is agreement in terms of what is good and what is evil. The issue is the removal of the fictional stories that go with Christianity.

As I have said, the dramatic characterizations of any religion involves a marketing orientation. However, we are all free to believe in the God that we are comfortable with, and to accept what stories or rationalizations we know are acceptable to us.

My view is to have Religious tolerance. It is intolerance that creates tribal mentalities which lead to war and abuse. --Durano, done!

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