THE HOUSE of Representatives Committee on Appropriations (COM-AP) junked the proposed Reproductive Health Care Act, also known as House Bill 4110, last Jan. 13. The COM-AP deferred the bill after Health Care Committee Chairman Rep. Antonio Yapha refused to endorse it due to unresolved issues in an executive session last Oct. 7, 2003.

The bill, which seeks to remove restrictions to so-called “healthy” contraceptives, was disapproved based on medical findings that contraceptives may cause cancers and abortions. There were also arguments that only multinational contraceptive corporations stand to benefit from the proposed law.

The University itself has opposed HB 4110 and substitute bills due to their serious health and bioethical implications. In a conference co-organized by the UST Campus Ministry and Human Life International last Oct. 20-21 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, Dr. Edna Garayblas-Monzon, chairperson of the UST-Medicine Department of Bioethics, explained why contraception is disapproved by the Church and by bioethicians.

“IUDs (intra-uterine devices), injectables, implants, and pills can have abortifacient effects by making the uterus hostile to the baby’s implantation in case these methods fail to prevent fertilization. The mother experiences bleeding without her knowing she already lost a baby,” Monzon said. She added that the pill, considered as the number one option for birth control, increases rates of breast cancer in 18 out of 21 studies, and causes heart attacks and hypertension.

In a session titled “Sorrowful Mysteries: The Global Scandal of Reimaging Life and the Family,” Monzon stressed that contraception contradicts the very act of lovemaking between a man and a woman, because “saying ‘I love you’ means loving your partner as a whole, respecting their fertile systems.” She maintained that availability of contraceptives has become an incentive for promiscuous behavior for both the married and the unmarried.

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Lastly, Monzon clarified that Catholic teaching objects to contraception not because of its “artificiality,” as such does not apply in the case of contraceptive “withdrawal,” but because contraception impedes the reproductive system and course designed by God.

“With contraception and sterilization, we treat fertility like a disease to be avoided to the point of mutilating and preventing our body systems from their normal functions,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jo Aurea Imbong, legal counsel of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and of the University of Asia and the Pacific, urged Thomasian voters to support pro-life candidates to help block the bill from passing the next Congress if it is refiled. She urged vigilance as HB 4110 underwent “twinning,” after a similar Integrated Population Development Act, House Bill 6123, filed by the same authors of HB 4110, was railroaded for second reading last June 5, 2003.

A workshop on modern methods of natural family planning, the Billings mucus and symto-thermal methods, followed the conference. An appeal with the COM-AP by supporters of the bill on Feb. 3 was suspended because of lack of quorum.

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