Tagged Humanae Vitae

Contraception vs. NFP in Catholic Philippines


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.

Pro-Life Philippines

Caritas Manila

It’s Not About Rabbits, But Maybe It’s Not About You Either

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I woke up to Facebook hopping (pun unintended) because of a remark the Pope made on the plane to Rome from Manila, where he spent four days with the Filipino people, celebrating, teaching, loving.

Many are upset because once again, the Pope said something that just *hit* them the wrong way.

I am a Filipina who came to the US when I was 18. I’ve lived here, got married, had kids and raised them for the next 28. Today I also work with a pro-life group in the Philippines. The entire transcript is a must read if one wants to fully understand, but I ask that you not stop there. Please consider reading the transcripts from his four days in Manila. The Pope’s rabbit remark has to be evaluated not just within the context of everything he said on that plane, but ALL the teaching he did in the third world last week. I am hoping that today’s clarification helps.

In a nutshell, and because I tend to ramble on, he’s basically teaching BALANCE. In Manila he taught a lot about being open to life, about GENEROSITY. Prompted by further quetions on the plane, he continued the lesson, this time highlighting RESPONSIBILITY. These two go hand in hand. His words on the plane did not cancel out what he said in Manila, as some claim. On the contrary, they are but parts of a whole. But there are farther nuances I’d like to point out if I may.

(Image Credit: ofelio.com)

He came to the Philippines to be with the poor. While there he addressed corruption, the cause of so much suffering there, as opposed to the liberal anti-life mantra of overpopulation. He spoke against foreign ideologies, many of which are funded and exported by us US taxpayers. Instead of helping them with the basics like food, clothing, shelter, education that uplifts them and upholds their dignity — we give them instead contraception, abortion, pornography, and contribute to their corruption. Pope Francis described this ideological colonization as insidious. The colonizers of old may have used guns and swords to conquer other lands. Today they use books, movies, music, social media, to conquer hearts, minds, souls. In addition, programs brought in by population controllers and eugenicists do irreparable harm.

In that same homily, he reiterated the Church’s teachings on the value of human life. During his trip he also traveled to see the victims of Yolanda, and spent time with the youth, many of whom experience suffering as a daily reality. (The rest of the transcripts are at Salt and Light TV.)

When he got on that plane, it’s reasonable to assume that his mind was still on the people he encountered. I’d like to propose that his words on RESPONSIBILITY AND GENEROSITY cover so much more than what appears on the surface:

He was calling pastors to shepherd their flock well, to catechize better. In the Philippines, many are cultural Catholics. They live the faith, but have little understanding of the Church’s basic teachings, especially Her teachings about sex. Many men still think it is their right to have on-demand sex and many women still think they are obligated to comply. Yes, this is partly a failure on the part of the clergy. The Pope is saying they need to teach more effectively; their flock need to listen and understand better. It is a pressing need and Pope Francis addressed it, for which I thank him.

Each person with his pastor seeks how to do that responsible parenthood.

When the Pope talked about responsibility, however, he was addressing not the first-world mother who has access to modern hospitals and well-trained doctors and the newest technology. A woman having an 8th caesarean section in the US is different from a woman having an 8th child in a third world country, caesarean or not. Here in the US, we have 911; they don’t. Here we have a medical team, in the Philippines you’re lucky if you can afford to go to a private hospital. Midwives there are not the same as midwives here. The Philippine maternal mortality rate has improved, but it is not the same as first world numbers.

Please don’t get me wrong, as the mom of 5 who has a lot of mom friends, many of whom live heroic lives of sacrifice, I do have some sense of the confusion or, as one commenter put it, devastation, that some of them felt when they heard the phrase. I have great compassion for them who have been so generous with their lives and with their bodies; and it’s not about the number of children anyway. That’s not the point and never was. Church teaching is clear that it’s a prudential decision left to husband and wife, and that’s beyond the purview of even us pro-lifers. But while those of us who have more than “the experts’ ‘required'” 2.1 kids sit here, tweeting, Facebooking or blogging away, getting our voices heard, what about the moms who don’t even have access to a computer or even a phone, much less good medical care? What about their voices?

Pope Francis was talking to the parents about being responsible because each child needs a mother and a father. In the first world, a mother’s chance of surviving childbirth is higher than it is in the third world. A child losing a parent in the first world, while he/she would not be any less devastated emotionally, would almost certainly have better access to material support and resources than his or her third world counterpart. We may have homeless and jobless people here, but in poverty-stricken Philippines, if a mother is lost, where do the orphans end up? If not in orphanages such as the one Pope Francis visited, they end up in the streets, begging for their food, or prostituting themselves. Trafficking is a huge problem, and it is directly related to poverty. The Philippines is easy prey for those who believe contraception and abortion to be the answer to these ills.

Understanding what responsible parenthood is about and getting access to what Pope Francis refers to as licit ways to plan the family aren’t the same either. NFP instructors have a hard time promoting NFP because those “insidious programs” that Pope Francis talked about refuse to give it priority or simply pay them lip service. The recently passed RH Law, for instance, mandates that people get access to whatever contraceptive method they choose. Millions are budgeted for artificial birth control, with subsidy coming in from outside sources; zero for the Church-approved NFP, which is left entirely to the laity to fund and promote.

NFP instructors have to deal with the “Pinoy macho image”. They hesitate to teach NFP outside of the Catechism *because* they need the Catechism to provide the backbone — there are places where the secular or scientific approach won’t be adequate or appropriate. Often the responsibility falls on the woman. And while that in itself isn’t a problem specific to the third world, the difference is that in the poorest areas of a third world country, men who don’t understand NFP and/or Church teaching fully end up raping their wives during the fertile period — this from a veteran NFP instructor. In the population controllers’ eyes, this is one more reason to accuse the Church of inefficiency and oppression, and one more excuse to promote aggressive anti-life measures.

I ask that you keep these in mind as you read the Pope’s words. All these are part of the whole, and when we take that whole apart and nitpick what is offensive to us, we not only turn a blind eye to those who are most in need of compassion, we undermine our own Church’s and our Pope’s ability to speak out on these issues that we may not fully understand but nevertheless exist. More than that, I am afraid that we also undermine our own efforts to reach those who see the Church’s teachings as archaic and oppressive, and to open their eyes to the truth.

Recommended Reading:
Breed Like Rabbits: The Pope and an Anti-Catholic Slur
Someone is getting lost in all this talk about Francis and rabbits
Pope Francis and Catholic Rabbits–5 Points to Consider
The Pope Said What about Rabbits? And I said Ee-I-ee-I-oh!
“Breeding like rabbits”, eh?
About the Pope’s “don’t be like rabbits” remark UPDATED