AS LONG as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stays in the presidency, legislations related to promoting divorce and abortion will not succeed.

This promise was made public during the 69th birthday of San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chair of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family Life, last March 9, when Arroyo affirmed that “a strong family makes for a strong republic.”

In her speech after the mass, Arroyo said her birthday gift for Aniceto was to make sure that the state creates policies that will support the Filipino family.

“We are taking measures to strengthen the Filipino family. Perhaps this will be the best birthday gift I can offer you,” Arroyo said, referring to Aniceto.

Although the President did not mention any progress on the pending House Bill 3773, otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Management Act of 2005, Aniceto said that, as a Catholic, the president “will never approve of any bill like [on] abortion or divorce.”

With the Philippine congress now in session, HB 3773 still draws criticisms from pro-life organizations, particularly the Couples for Christ, which published an advertisement through the Philippine Daily Inquirer opposing the passage of the bill.

“Couples for Christ condemns House Bill 3773 as an act that is anti-poor, anti-family, anti-Filipino, and anti-life,” the ad reads. “The funding for this program can be better channeled to the basic health care services of the poor rather than only for their masterfully-crafted phrase: ‘reproductive health’ – a euphemism for sterilization and abortion.”

According to Bioethics chair Dr. Edna Monzon, HB 3773 actually contradicts its aim to prevent abortion through contraception.

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“On the contrary, there are more abortions in western countries which legalized contraception because abortion serves as backup for failed contraception,” Monzon said.

Monzon added that people, and even the authors of HB 3773, are misinformed of studies claiming about the prevalence of abortion in other countries.

“It is unethical to say that there should only be two children. It is only between the couple to decide how many children they will have. It is not up to the state – not even the Church – to dictate how many children they should have,” Monzon said.

Meanwhile, Rehabilitation Sciences Regent and former Bioethics chair Fr. Fausto Gomez, O.P., said the passage of the bill cannot solve the problem of poverty as it claims.

“Poverty is not a question of the number of mouths to feed, but the question of the portion of the population getting much compared to those who get less or even nothing,” Gomez said.

Gomez likewise said instead of curtailing the right of the couples to choose their preferred family size, the government should advise the couples of family planning in a moral way.

“The government must respect the dignity and right to life of the born and unborn,” he said. Kris P. Bayos

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