A Crucial Vote Looms in Philippines

Eileen Macapanas Cosby on Population-Control Bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Legislation that aims to impose a two-child limit on families in the Philippines is facing a vote this Monday.

Among those fighting the legislation is Eileen Macapanas Cosby, executive director of the Filipino Family Fund (www.filipinofamilyfund.org), an organization of Filipino-Americans working to support the pro-life cause in their native country.

She shared with ZENIT her views on the origin and implication of this bill, which faces a vote in the House of Representatives.

Q: Could you tell us about the Responsible Parenting and Population Control Act of 2005?

Cosby: It is an affront to the culture of life in the U.S. and not just in the Philippines. I hope people see that.

If we let the most Catholic country in the world — 87% of its nearly 85 million people are Catholic — fall prey to these fringe groups, this will be a huge blow to the pro-family and pro-life movement. This will give the pro-choice leadership an advantage to do more damage than they did in Beijing or Cairo.

We have to pray that on January 16 the bill does not pass. It is up for a vote and the author claims 135 of 238 congressmen will support it.

Elements of the bill include preference in education for two-child families, free access to abortifacients, and mandatory sex education for children as young as 10 years old.

Under the bill, employers — including the Catholic Church — would be obligated to provide free “reproductive health care services and devices to the workers.”

The bill defines “reproductive health care” as “availability and access to a full range of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive and sexual health and well-being.” This includes “family-planning information, condom and abortifacient birth prevention.” Voluntary sterilization is also included.

The penalties for not participating in the proposed reproductive health program include imprisonment for up to six months.

Catholic health-care professionals who object to sterilization and contraception will be obligated to make a referral and not have the freedom to practice medicine according to their beliefs.

Catholic educators who will not share the mandated reproductive health curriculum will be imprisoned or fined up to 20,000 pesos ($382). Parents who object to their children receiving abortifacient health services will also pay the same penalty.

Q: How are the Filipino people responding to this policy which is?

Cosby: The bishops are adamantly opposed. Filipinos are organizing prayer rallies. Mayors are joining Church leaders in speaking out and only permitting natural family planning as the family planning method of choice.

Some priests concerned about the abortifacient push have actually withheld Communion from legislators who signed the bill.

One archbishop addressed the faithful in pastoral letter in February: “The Church cannot be unmoved by these assaults on the family. The legislative proposal to limit the size of the Filipino family in the guise of ‘reproductive rights’ is unjust, arbitrary and unreasonable legislation. It has no place in public governance.”

Q: If the bill does not come from the people, to what extent is this a result of outside interference of pro-abortion groups? Is the United Nations involved in promoting these changes?

Cosby: The way that the United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] targets countries in the name of poverty alleviation is amazing. They actually court the legislators and form legislative committees.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation is located in the House of Representatives; it does not uphold the constitution. … Those non-profit organizations who sponsor them are also sponsored in part by UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood Federation associates.

Q: Many groups criticize the lack of Filipino governmental support for “safe sex” and condom promotion in preventing AIDS. How important is the AIDS issue in influencing this bill’s proposal?

Cosby: Take a look at the effectiveness of abstinence on the Philippines. By introducing a condom campaign, it is great for massive promotions of condom companies but bad news for Filipinos.

The strength of the Catholic Culture explains the low HIV-infection rate.

The two-child policy will give Filipinos free abortifacients but also jeopardize the culture that has kept them strong despite the problems in corrupt governance, limited economic opportunities and a lack of educational reform. That’s where foreign aid funding should be placed, not in condoms, but better infrastructure.

If the bill passes in the House, there is a worse bill that will be attached in the Senate, which will provide a centralized bureaucracy for reproductive health and appoint three U.N.-elected family planning leaders to run it.

Q: What would you reply to those who say that lower birthrates are needed to allow economic progress? What would be the overall implications for the country if the bill is passed?

Cosby: The recent data on demographics for aging populations indicate that policies like the two-child policy will introduce a host of other problems as the population will not have enough youth to sustain the older generation.

Q: What would you suggest to pro-lifers of any nationality, to support the cause of the Filipino people?

Cosby: Sign our online petition to give a voice to Filipinos that we care. We will present this to Congress as it opens on Monday.

Pray for the culture of life, especially on Sunday at 7 p.m. [New York time] which will be Monday 8 a.m. in Manila when Congress will resume to debate and vote.

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