THE ROMAN Catholic Diocese of Cubao has denounced the Reproductive Health Ordinance of Quezon City and urged all Catholics to oppose it.

“As your shepherd, I admonish you to defend the sanctity of human life and family that is now in tremendous danger,” Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said in a pastoral letter that was read in churches in the diocese last February 11. “They (City Hall) use the issue of poverty to push their deadly intent of promoting contraceptives and abortifacients.”

With a 25 to one vote, the Quezon City Council passed the ordinance; it was signed into effect on Feb. 23. It makes provisions for an information campaign on family planning, free medical services, even for ligation and vasectomy of poor patients, and free contraceptives in health centers.

The Church is opposed to state-enforced and contraceptive-based population control, arguing that public funds could be better used at poverty alleviation.

It maintains that population control is the wrong use of public resources.

Ironically, the law was passed amid the scandal plaguing the national government as a result of the ZTE Broadband deal.

The corruption scandal in fact was cited by Fr. Ivan Paul Obando, O.P. after he read Ongtioco’s pastoral letter in a mass at Santo Domingo Church.

“Population is not the cause of poverty but corruption like the ZTE Broadband deal,” Obando told the faithful.

Bishop Ongtioco later led a rally outside the Quezon City Hall to denounce the “anti-life” ordinance, which includes what he called as “safe abortion” and promotion of contraception among students.

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To the death of the sign

Councilor Joseph Juico, sponsor of the ordinance, defended it. He said it gives women a choice between natural and artificial methods of family planning.

“The ordinance reiterates the illegality of abortion,” Juico said. “Abortion is not the same as preventing conception from taking place.”

Citing the report of the UN Population Fund, Juico said a woman dies every minute during pregnancy. Also, 20 to 30 survivors of delivery still experience mild to severe injuries.

The report added that the incidence is higher in Third World countries due to lack of reproduction health care awareness.

But Church officials said the aim of “reproductive health” is not maternal care but fertility control. They said women’s health should be addressed in a broader maternal health program that includes poverty alleviation, not the promotion of contraception and abortion.

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