hiMANILA, Philippines — A government bill seeking to limit families in the Philippines to two children has Church officials worried. They fear Asia’s only predominantly Catholic country will follow the draconian policies of Communist China.
To limit families requires either contraception or abortion — or, more likely, both. The Church insists that marital acts be unitive and open to life.
In fact, limiting families is the thrust of the bill being considered by the House of Representatives. Known as the “Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act of 2005” or House Bill (HB) 3773, the proposal would make available the full range of family-planning methods, from surgical methods to “modern contraceptive devices.”
Proponents of HB 3773 hope that debate on the bill will be scheduled before the Holy Week break, followed by a plenary vote. The bill would then go to the Senate and, if it passes, eventually to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Pro-lifers hope Arroyo would veto the bill, although the author of the bill, Rep. Edcel Lagman, contends she never categorically stated that.
Many parts of the bill, which utilizes euphemistic language such as “reproductive health” and “sustainable development” that is common to U.N. population documents, are particularly troubling. For example, the Church may be held liable for refusing to offer contraceptive methods to employees, and Catholic doctors may be jailed for refusing to perform or refer female patients for tubal ligations.
As well, families with two children or fewer would receive preference in college scholarship grants; strict sanctions would be implemented for refusal to perform sterilization on abused minors; and mandatory sex education would be taught to students beginning in fifth grade.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Sacred Scripture and the Church’s traditional practice see in large families a sign of God’s blessing and the parents’ generosity. Couples who discover that...