Fr. Melvin Castro: Reproductive Health Bill is 'Anti-Women'

Filipino Catholic Bishops Executive Secretary Denounces Proposed Legislation

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MANILA, Philippines, NOV. 21, 2012 ( Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary for the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), refuted criticisms on the Catholic Church’s stance against the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

“If there is one institution that supports the welfare of women, it is the Catholic Church,” he said.

The RH bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce “sexual education” on children starting at the 5th grade level. 

Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.

According to Fr. Castro, the CBCP believes that the proposed legislation is not pro-women is because it does not answer the primary concerns of Filipino women and mothers.

“They (pro-RH bill advocates) are claiming that we are against women because the leaders of the Church are men and old,” Fr. Castro said.

“The truth is, if [the] RH bill becomes a law, those who will be affected by this are the women.  It will take away from them their being a mother,” he said.

The priest also took several big business organizations to task for supporting the controversial population control measure. “These businessmen just want to reduce your maternity leave,” Fr. Castro said.

The executive secretary of the CBCP also disagreed with statements made by Senator Pia Cayetano, the author of the proposed RH bill, that primary health care services should include contraceptives. “It’s a painful point made by the principal author… disappointing,” he added.

“We have to discuss more about this. This is not what our people and women need.”

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