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07 October 2008


“Bishop Patricio Alo refuses to see that Catholics themselves want to mitigate their fertility and plan their families,” Rep. Edcel Lagman said in reaction to Alo’s statement that pro-reproductive health solons should resign because they are not representing the Filipino people’s sentiments on the issue of reproductive health and family planning.

Lagman is the principal author of House Bill No. 5043 on reproductive health, responsible parenthood and population development, which now has 108 coauthors.

Reproductive health advocates in Congress precisely represent the overwhelming majority of Filipinos who favor the progressive family planning agenda espoused by the bill according to Lagman.

He underscored that, “the Catholic hierarchy is out of touch with the opinion of Catholics on family planning and should not claim to be their mouthpiece.”

The Albay solon said that the 2007 Ulat ng Bayan Survey of Pulse Asia reveals that 93% of all Roman Catholics considered it important to have the ability to control their fertility and plan their families. “This is an even higher percentage than the national average of 92% who consider family planning important,” Lagman said.

The survey results not only showed that an immense number of Catholics believe that family planning is fundamental to their lives, 77% of Catholics surveyed went as far as saying that it is important that family planning be included in a politician’s platform of government.

The Pulse Asia survey also revealed that 90% of Catholics agreed that government should allocate public funds to modern contraceptives which are expressly prohibited by the Church.

Lagman reminded Alo that “in the Catholic faith the Church is supposed to act through the entire people of God and the faithful have not remained silent on this issue and yet are being clearly ignored, even muzzled by the Catholic hierarchy.”

He compared the critics of the bill within the Catholic Church to a “dysfunctional family that refuses to acknowledge a problem that is staring them right in the eye.”

Lagman also stressed that HB 5043 is anti-abortion because contraception and abortion have an inverse correlation. “The more accessible modern contraceptives are, the lower abortion rates become,” he said.

He cited the examples of Russia and Eastern and Central Europe where abortion rates dropped by up to 50% because of increased use of modern contraception and studies which show that a shift from the use of traditional to modern methods of contraception accounted for 87% of the decline in abortion in Turkey from 1993-1998 (Senlet, P., et. al.).

According to the Allan Guttmacher Institute, the correct and consistent use of contraceptives reduces the incidence of abortion by 85%.