Is the Catholic Church beginning to lose a little of its rigid grasp that it has held over numerous countries when it comes to family planning, birth control, reproductive justice, and even infertility treatments? For some countries, the answer could be yes.
In the Philippines, the Catholic Church has made the family planning initiatives of the government a battle of epic proportions. But as the New York Times points out, it may be a battle the Church is losing, as its influence over the country has started to wane.
[A] battle in Manila over a reproductive health bill may produce not just a push for more easily available contraception — which would reduce poverty and often-fatal illegal abortions — but a clash between local bishops and an increasingly secular society.
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Opponents of the bill have also argued that claims of runaway population growth in the Philippines have been greatly exaggerated. They have a point — one that indicates the extent to which people are already ignoring the church. The Philippines’ fertility decline started late by Asian standards, but the birthrate has halved since 1980. Some of this is due to the huge numbers of women who have gone to work overseas. But it is quite likely that rapid decline will continue regardless of legislation or the church. As countries as varied as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia have shown, it does not take much to change habits if contraception is easily and cheaply available.
Some argue that it may not matter much whether this bill passes or not because the broader influence of the church hierarchy is fading under the impact of urbanization, migrant workers and a popular culture very open about sex. There is also the example of an elite that often does not practice what it preaches in Congress.
The Philippines is a very religious country but also one where tolerance of priests having relations with women appears high and where marriage breakups and de facto unions are a common and accepted substitute for divorce. Despite five centuries of Catholicism, indigenous practices in which divorce was common and could be initiated by either women or men lurk not far beneath the surface.
Mainstream Catholic influence is also being eroded by the enduring presence of two nationalist Christian denominations, the Iglesia ni Cristo, and the Aglipayans, by the growth of Protestant sects and by the impact of high-profile evangelical and charismatic preachers reaching mass audiences through radio and television.
In short, the Catholic Church may win this round in its battle against contraceptives. But it has probably already lost the war.
The decline of the influence of the Church may also be seen in Costa Rica, where the country is considering loosening its ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF). From the Tico Times:
Taking the lead from the Catholic Church, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the process violates life and human dignity, as many of the embryos used in the procedure are lost. In drafting their statement, judges adopted the rhetoric of the Catholic Church, saying children should be conceived naturally and that any manipulation of the process is morally unacceptable.
In 2008, after all options had been exhausted within the Costa Rican judicial system, ten infertile couples brought the case before the Washington D. C.-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
“Nothing is worse than the inability to have a family,” said Andrea Bianchi, who was one of the mothers to testify. “People have sunk into depression, couples have divorced over this. This is the most infuriating thing because you have to wait for someone else to decide (your future).”
In August, the Commission – an entity of the Organization of American States – told Costa Rica that it must take steps to lift the ban, as its signature is on many of the international accords that back the practice.
Sadly, to qualm the complaints from the church, Costa Rica is mandating there be no creation or storage of “extra embryos,” condemning any woman who’s procedure fails the first time to undergo the extensive invasive fertility treatments necessary to create more.
So how can the Church work to woo back people and regain its total influence? Well, if you believe this article from Business World Online in Manila, with “witty” comebacks to those who question the Church’s stances on sex.
People have the right to their own bodies. True. You also have the right to smell other people’s butts and act like a dog but that wouldn’t be sane. However, for Catholics, the belief is that God owns your bodies and the Church is simply pointing out that there’s a better way to exercise your rights. The Church won’t coerce you to not act stupid (Like how? Pull a gun?).
October 22, 2010
- Youth parliament: Let’s talk about sex – Swindon Advertiser
- Ken Buck Hit Hard On Birth Control, Abortion In New DSCC Ad – Huffington Post
- Study seeks to extend HIV testing to prison inmates – Private MD
- Self-examination – key to the fight against breast cancer – GhanaWeb
- Candidate’s Graphic Anti-Abortion Ad Banned on YouTube, But Not TV – FOX 4 News
- State warns Cedarburg aobut sex ed option – Chicago Tribune
- Report Finds HIV Positive Porn Actor Hasn’t Infected Others in XXX Industry – Yet – Gather.com
- Toddler’s HIV scare – New York Post
- No middle of the road on teen pregnancy – SunHerald.com
- ‘Blame politicians for lack of doctors in rural areas’ – Myjoyonline.com
- Eight-months-pregnant woman ‘forced’ into abortion – Metro
- Questions raised in Ohio gunpoint abortion case – Washington Post
- Bowman/Pyle Look for Votes in the 60th District – The Kittanning Paper
- Forced and macabre abortion in China, 8 months into pregnancy – DigitalJournal.com
- UK cervical cancer testing numbers drop – International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics
- Ad creates spat between lieutenant governor candidates Phil Scott and Steve Howard – BurlingtonFreePress.com
- Costa Rica Seeks In Vitro Compromise – Tico Times
- Wisconsin forcing explicit sex-ed – OneNewsNow
- Offering mothers a helping hand – Regina Leader-Post
- Catholic schools firm on cancer shot ban – Calgary Herald
- Wilmington teen pregnancy targeted – The News Journal
- Kenya’s sex workers care for HIV-affected peers – The Guardian
- Zimbabwe’s success in fight against HIV/Aids brings new challenge – Chronicle
- Number of women tested for cervical cancer falls – InTheNews.co.uk
- Letters: On civil rights leader, Senate race and more – San Diego Union Tribune
- My View: State must update abortion law to protect rights – Times Herald-Record
- Nicole Brodeur Women’s health-care rights at stake in election – Seattle Times
- Women’s right to choose comes with responsibility – Daily O’Collegian
- Paladino wants a culture of life – Albany Times Union
- Sex, sin and scriptures – Reportage Online
- Why is policy obsessed with teenage pregnancy? – Independent (blog)
- First case of HIV from blood transfusion traced to Missouri donor – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Obama tells bullied teens ‘It Gets Better’ – ABC Online
- (In response to Anna Bethancourt’s Oct. 20 column “Sex ed abstains from … – Web Devil
- Abortion is the key issue for one reader – Martinsburg Journal
- Grapevine docs sued over unapproved birth control devices – WFAA
- Police warn women – and men – about alcohol, rape – The Missoulian
- Women’s health conference spotlights ‘the face of AIDS’ – South Coast Today
October 21, 2010
- Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops – WIFR
- Olson Questions DOJ’s Defense of DADT – Advocate.com
- Vermont to receive teen pregnancy prevention grants – Bennington Banner
- Abortion Suddenly Front & Center In Vt. Governor's Race – WPTZ The Champlain Valley
- US health agency warns of heart problems from HIV drugs – AFP
- Palin endorses Bielat in race against Barney Frank – Wicked Local Mattapoisett
- Anambra vows to eliminate maternal mortality – NEXT
- Women Face Hurdles Worldwide in Quest for Gender Equality – Care2.com (blog)
- The Timeline: Maternity leave – Independent
- Gay diplomat presses LGBT issues at int’l conference – Washington Blade
- Vt. lt. gov. campaign ad creates controversy – WCAX
- Illegal immigrants want sterilization, get kids – Reuters
- CDC Finds Teen Pregnancy Rate Disparity Between States – AHN | All Headline News
- Progressive group leaders release voter’s guide – WHYY
- LOS ANGELES: Bishops, interfaith leaders stand up for equality, defeating … – Episcopal News Service
- Health department notes October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Quad-Cities Online
- Quinn responsible for abortion rate increase – Chicago Tribune
- Barrett ad calls Walker ‘too extreme’ for Wis. – Washington Post
- US Teen Birth Rate Falls, Highest in Southern States – AOL Health
- Stark contrast in District 9 race – Cabinet.com
- Battle Simmers In Right To Not Tell – Queens Tribune
- Holy See Calls for Culture of Peace – Catholic.net
- Shumlin says Dubie trying “to bully women’s rights rally” – vtdigger.org
- “Snappy replies to condomic arguments” – BusinessWorld Online
- Better late than never? – The Economist
- Birth Control Pills, Jealousy and Girly Men – Babble (blog)
- Jay Friedman brings J-Spot sex talk lecture to Whitman – Whitman Pioneer
- Written by Betsy Yagla – New Haven Advocate
- Abstinence-Only States Have More Teen Pregnancy – Newser
- Terrence Higgins Trust Joins Conference Dedicated To Improving The Sexual … – Medical News Today (press release)
- Back From the Dead (For Now): Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – Wall Street Journal (blog)