Oh yes, it’s Lent. It seems the anti-life and anti-family movements are out in full force again. Did funding come in recently?
In just the past week, several articles have been published targeting the Catholic church yet again for its [archaic, primitive, bigoted, misogynistic — take your pick] stance on contraception. The Gates- and Ford-funded PRI’s newest series is nothing but recycled material. Periodically trotted out and updated with newer pictures, these articles predictably harp on the same theme year after year: women need/want contraception and abortion, but they are being oppressed by a Church that refuses to get with the times and change its teachings. Ho-hum.
It is well-known among Filipino pro-lifers that this “contraception saves lives” mantra is being globally pushed by those with an agenda. Unfortunately, most people, even Catholics, don’t have a full understanding of Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning, much less Theology of the Body. Too many people still don’t have a clear grasp of the innate dignity of human beings, God’s design for sex, and why contraception — whether you look at it from a scientific standpoint or a moral one — is detrimental to marriage, family, and society in the long run. The International Planned Parenthood Federation and its local branches, along with Marie Stopes, Guttmacher, partners from big pharma, foundations like Gates and Ford, and secular NGOs take advantage of this knowledge gap. Contraception is constantly presented as some sort of panacea, ostensibly to prevent abortions, with the ultimate goal to legalize abortion.
The Philippines is one of the few remaining countries where abortion is still against the law. That does not mean abortion is non-existent. It just means that clinics like Likhaan, highlighted in another Sonia Narang article, operate unhindered, connecting women with underground abortionists, a practice that founder Junice Melgar readily admits. Many in government seem to have bought the lie that abortion helps women and therefore are happy to just let these happen under the radar, the law notwithstanding.
What’s not revealed by the PRI articles is the already ongoing, illegal implementation of the Reproductive Health Law. The Food and Drug Administration has completely ignored petitions from pro-life groups detailing specific contraceptives’ abortifacient methods of action, petitions the FDA itself solicited and which are required by law prior to recertification. Since the Philippine constitution unequivocally protects the life of the unborn, the sale and distribution of these items is prohibited, but that prohibition only exists on paper and is not enforced.
In reality, except for continued efforts by the Church to educate Catholics on Church teaching, nothing stops the government or these NGOs from doing what they want to do. Such contempt for the law is possible only in countries steeped in corruption, and where votes for proposed legislation are regularly bought and sold.
The Reproductive Health law actually mandates that other family planning choices be made available to couples, yet funding is only provided for contraceptives, the Church-approved NFP largely left to the laity and private organizations to fund and promote.
Three oft-repeated arguments used to justify contraception and abortion are spousal abuse, extramarital affairs and sexually transmitted disease. Forgotten and ignored is the fact that these problems aren’t cured by making abortion and contraception available. These problems need to be addressed at the root, and bandaid solutions merely perpetuate the cycle of abuse, and do nothing to curb adultery or unethical sexual behavior. Provide men with condoms and women with pills, sterilize them if you will, but only a proper understanding of sex and marriage will eliminate these problems.
That women are “asking” for contraception is largely untrue. For years now, organizations like IPPF and Marie Stopes, the UNFPA and USAID have been pouring money into ““social acceptance”, “demand creation” and other contraceptive “scaling up” projects, many of them funded by US taxpayer money. These all-out media campaigns include TV shows and commercials, magazine ads, and traveling caravans that go from city to city offering free or subsidized contraception.
The Church has no such propaganda machine. Some would argue that it has the pulpit, and others would rightly point out that except for a few brave priests and bishops, hardly anyone ever speaks about the moral implications of contraception and abortion. In fact, there is no ban on contraceptives, they are relatively affordable, and even minors are able to purchase them at drugstores that are supposed to restrict their sales.
Revitalized by Pope Francis’ recent visit and his clear denunciation of threats to marriage, family, and life, however, more Catholics, clergy and laity alike, are initiating new programs and getting involved in the race to preserve the culture of life in the Philippines. Perhaps that explains the most recent round of attacks being hurled anew at the Church. Portraying the church as enemy always has been and always will be the primary tactic employed by these movements. But only the church truly promotes the dignity of the human being, man and woman alike.
One last point: those of us in the first world have the advantage of having easy access to information. Fertility awareness methods and natural family planning are increasingly being recognized as the real solutions to women’s reproductive health needs, and not just by Catholics. If a poor woman with 7 kids living on $2 a day contracts cancer or develops blood clots possibly leading to a stroke or a heart attack because of contraception use, there is no government solution in place that will take care of her family.
Then as now, what women in third world countries need is basic help — food, clothing, shelter, education (not just sex ed), and jobs.
There are many organizations that need and deserve your support. Here are two that Filipino pro-lifers endorse and are directly involved in. In coming weeks I will share information on other worthy organizations where you can send help.