(Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.)
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Nowhere is the battle between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death more ferocious than it is in the Philippines right now.
The primary weapon the population controllers are deploying there is the Reproductive Health Bill, which was enacted by the Congress in December 2012 but is currently tied up in the court system. The years of struggle over the RH Bill have showcased the tactics used by population controllers all over the world, allowing us to analyze them and learn from them.
The main argument of the population controllers is that a large population dooms a developing nation to poverty. The RH Bill proposes to solve this problem by mandating the universal provision of all methods of birth control, including abortifacients.
However, those pushing the RH Bill are deliberately ignoring the critical fact that a large workforce is required to build a nation. The Wall Street Journal says that the promotion of a reproductive health bill is “jarring, because it would put the Philippines in danger of following China’s path into middle-income development followed by a demographic trap of too few workers. The Philippines doesn’t have too many people, it has too few pro-growth policies.”
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, one of the world’s largest banks, recently projected that the Philippines would possess the world’s 16th largest economy by the year 2050 due to its rapidly growing population. However, this prediction was made before the RH Bill was passed, and will not be valid if the nation’s population growth rate rapidly decelerates under a regime of contraception, sterilization, and abortion.
From a purely economic point of view, it is better for a nation to grow old after it has grown rich, which is Europe’s experience. But if a nation like the Philippines grows old before it becomes rich, it will be doomed to permanent economic mediocrity.
Population control programs always contain a strong element of eugenics. As ex-President Fidel Ramos said, “I think the philosophy of [the] RH bill is that we must learn to produce quality people in this world instead of producing people who only end up as, say, beggars on the streets, scavengers, or sellers of cheap or prohibited items. This, I think, is the real valid argument in favor of the RH bill.”
Population controllers also allege that the number of abortions will be reduced by the widespread promotion of contraception. As the International Consortium for Medical Abortion asserts, “The lack of a comprehensive contraceptive program of the [Philippine] government, as a result of this Catholic pressure, leads to unwanted pregnancies, which, in turn, is the root cause of abortion incidence in the country.”
However, experts on both sides of the debate agree that contraception will increase, not decrease, the incidence of abortion.
For example, Professor Kingsley Davis of the United States Commission on Population Growth and the American Future stated more than four decades ago:
“The current belief that illegitimacy will be reduced if teenage girls are given an effective contraceptive is an extension of the same reasoning that created the problem in the first place. It reflects an unwillingness to face problems of social control and social discipline, while trusting some technological device to extricate society from its difficulties. The irony is that the illegitimacy rise occurred precisely while contraceptive use was becoming more, rather than less, widespread and respectable.”
And more than half a century ago Alfred Kinsey, America’s most famous “sexologist,” put his finger on the reason that contraception, no matter how perfectly it functions when used, will never reduce the incidence of abortion:
“At the risk of being repetitious, I would remind the group that we have found the highest frequency of induced abortion in the group which, in general, most frequently uses contraceptives. I don’t think it is entirely carelessness. As I pointed out before, you don’t do anything — putting on your clothes, or going to bed, or drinking, or eating — with absolute regularity. And I think it is just too much to hope that we can ever have any contraceptive practice, outside of temporary sterilization, which is going to prevent this occasional slip that accounts for a high proportion of undesired pregnancies and abortions, especially among those of the upper socioeconomic levels.”
These predictions have been borne out by bitter experience. No matter how perfect contraceptive technology becomes, people will remain imperfect at using it. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are about two million contraceptive failures in the United States each year, and that more than half of women seeking abortions were using contraception when they became pregnant.
It is quite obvious to all but the most ideologically driven that contraception leads to an explosion in the rate of overconfident sexual activity, and thus to many more “unwanted” pregnancies when the contraception frequently fails. This is what drives the call for legalized abortion, and the population controllers know it. They are also well aware that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that “reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”
Thus, it is obvious that the primary purpose of the RH Bill is to pave the way for legalized abortion in the Philippines. As Pope John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae, “Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church’s teaching on contraception is rejected” (n. 13).
Another tactic the pro-abortionists use is to grossly exaggerate the number of women who die of illegal abortions, then demand that abortion be legalized.
For example, the Center for Reproductive Rights published a glossy 2010 report entitled Forsaken Lives: The Harmful Impact of the Philippine Criminal Abortion Ban. This report alleges that there are 560,000 illegal abortions annually in the Philippines (which makes the abortion rate 57 percent higher than in the USA, where it is legal!), and that 1,000 women die and 90,000 are injured every year from injuries inflicted by illegal abortions. The report then admits that there is no possible way to make an accurate estimate of these statistics since the procedure is illegal.
But such trivialities as lack of evidence or documentation never stop the population controllers from trying! And, of course, the quick and obvious solution — arresting the illegal abortionists — is anathema to the population controllers.
One of the reasons the RH Bill was passed was a constant drumbeat of propaganda alleging that the widespread use of contraceptives will decrease the high rate of maternal mortality in the Philippines. However, there is ample statistical evidence showing that the main causes of high maternal mortality in the Philippines is not a lack of contraception or “safe” abortion, but insufficient resources to guarantee attended childbirth.
The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) stated in its Position Paper on the RH Bill that the goal of reducing the rise of maternal and child deaths “could be attained by improving maternal and child health care without the necessity of distributing contraceptives. The millions of [pesos of] funds intended for the contraceptive devices may just well be applied in improving the skills of our health workers in reducing maternal and child mortality in the Philippines.”
But of all the arguments advanced by the pro-RH forces, none has been as effective as the appeal to individual conscience. Catholics for [a Free] Choice is active in the Philippines, and we can see its grubby fingerprints all over the debate on conscience.
In order to subvert the teachings of the Church on conscience, the population controllers must first recruit a group of prominent Catholic turncoats. Fourteen professors from Ateneo de Manila University, a famous Catholic university, seemed eager to betray their country and their faith.
They published a paper entitled Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience, which appeared to be written entirely by CFFC or a similar organization. The paper states that “Catholic social teachings recognize the primacy of the well-formed conscience over wooden compliance to directives from political and religious authorities,” and urged the Church to stop opposing the RH Bill. They went on to say that “we further believe that it is possible for Catholics like ourselves to support HB 5043 in good conscience, even as we recognize, with some anguish, that our view contradicts the position held by some of our fellow Catholics, including our bishops.”
The Ateneo paper mentions the individual person’s conscience several times, but, as always, the only consciences that matter to pro-abortionists are their own.
The RH Bill provides for heavy fines and imprisonment for Catholic and other hospital personnel who refuse on conscience grounds to distribute contraception or perform sterilizations. There is absolutely no conscience clause. Every employer must provide all methods of “family planning” to all of its female employees. Additionally, anyone who distributes “malicious disinformation” about the RH Bill itself can be jailed. Naturally, the population controllers have refused to define this term when questioned, but we can be quite certain that they consider all opposition to the RH Bill to be “malicious.”
In other words, the RH Bill utterly tramples the conscience rights of practicing Catholics. The Ateneo statement is merely a pretty package of lies concocted to soothe the feelings of the pro-RH elite, including those “Catholic” politicians who voted for it.
On a final note, the Ateneo statement echoed Catholics for a Free Choice once again when it claimed: “We share neither the view nor the fear that discussing sex in schools will make adolescents prurient and promiscuous.” But the population controllers know that the best way to destroy the innocence of the children and get them “hooked” on contraception is through graphic sex education, which under the RH Bill will be mandatory with no opt-out.
As Alan Guttmacher famously said, “The only avenue the International Planned Parenthood Federation and its allies could travel to win the battle for abortion on demand is through sex education.”
The Reproductive Health Bill is a complete package designed to integrate the anti-life mentality into the very fabric of Filipino thinking. It is nothing more than a tool to smooth the road for abortion on demand in the Philippines. It will spread failure-prone contraception all over the country, leading to an inevitable demand for legalized abortion. It mandates explicit sex education without an opt-out clause so that children will get hooked on sex. And it severely punishes anyone who does not support the program.
It is quite literally a “lethal injection” to the soul of the nation, as the European experience has shown us. The Europeans have also taught us that there is no comeback from a program of this kind. Once the people accept it, there is no turning back, and the nation slowly dies — which, of course, is exactly what the population controllers desire.
If the Supreme Court of the Philippines upholds the RH Bill, dozens of abortion clinics will spring up in the larger cities in a matter of weeks, many of which have been operating as illegal abortion mills for years. Sex education among the youth will lead to an entirely predictable procession of social woes, from widespread teenage pregnancy to rampant disease to a plunge in the marriage rate. The divorce rate will skyrocket, and many more women and children will fall into poverty.
Developed nations pay tens of billions of dollars annually to try to clean up the carnage caused by legalized contraception, divorce, and abortion. Fortunately for them, these massive costs represent not much more than a burdensome tax rate to people and corporations. But for a poor nation like the Philippines, it means a guaranteed reservation among the ranks of poor nations for decades to come, and a dramatic slowing of economic progress.
Please pray fervently for the future of the Philippines. If the RH Bill passes, the soul of this most Catholic country will slowly wither and die. The West will have occupied the Philippines yet again, but this time in the most effective way — we will have taken over the minds of the people, and will watch them preside over their own destruction.