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Thread: Manila women fight contraception ban

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Default Manila women fight contraception ban

    Manila women fight contraception ban
    By Philippa Fogarty
    BBC News



    Twenty of Manila's poorest residents have filed a legal challenge against what they say is a ban on contraception.
    The group - 16 women and four of their husbands - are fighting a policy which they say denies them access to condoms, to the pill and other effective forms of family planning.

    This has had a devastating effect on their lives, they argue, causing unwanted pregnancies, pushing them further into poverty and harming their health and wellbeing.

    The case has sparked debate in the Philippines where, says Professor Michael Tan, chair of the anthropology department at the University of the Philippines, there is no national policy on family planning.

    More than 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholics and the Church is hugely influential. Abortion is banned and President Gloria Arroyo openly backs the Church's anti-contraception stance.


    The city will not use funds for the procurement of contraceptives
    Dr Gina Pardilla,
    Manila City health official

    Previous attempts to pass laws requiring government funding for services like family planning and Aids prevention have been blocked by conservatives, Mr Tan says.

    This has left crucial decisions in the hands of local officials and resulted in a very mixed picture nationwide - so this case is very significant.

    "People recognise that the courts must decide once and for all whether local government officials can unilaterally ban family planning services," he said.

    'Culture of life'

    The policy at the centre of the controversy was introduced in February 2000 by former Manila City Mayor Jose Atienza, a staunch Catholic.

    He backed "natural" family planning - a less reliable method which involves couples not having sex when the woman is at her most fertile - and called the use of alternative contraceptives "a very, very destructive practice which ruins Filipino values".


    We want to say that this cannot be done in Manila or anywhere else
    Elizabeth Pangalangan,
    lawyer for the plaintiffs
    Mr Atienza passed Executive Order 003, which "upholds natural family planning not just as a method but as a way of self-awareness in promoting the culture of life while discouraging the use of artificial methods of contraception".

    Although carefully worded to avoid an outright prohibition on "artificial" contraception, it was interpreted as such by city health officials, campaigners say.

    Condoms and pills - which had been free - disappeared from local health centres. Hospitals turned down requests for sterilization operations. Many health workers stopped providing any information whatsoever on contraception.

    Some family planning services did remain available at government-run hospitals or in other districts of the sprawling capital which did not fall under Mr Atienza.

    But these services came at a price, people had to travel to get them and many simply did not know where to go. NGOs who tried to fill the gap reported harassment by city officials.

    Unwanted pregnancies

    Lawyers for the group - from Philippine-based rights organisations LIKHAAN and Reprocen, and the US-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) - argue that EO 003 has caused "serious and lingering damage" to residents.

    The policy has hit poorest people the hardest, they say, forcing people to choose between a packet of pills or food for their families.


    Several of the petitioners have had many more children than they wanted - some at the expense of their health - because they could not afford to pay for contraception.

    The policy also exposed women to violence from husbands who did not want to abstain from sex, the rights groups found in an earlier report, and meant more women were resorting to illegal and unsafe abortions.

    Mr Atienza is no longer mayor - he is now secretary for the Department of Environment - and his replacement Alfredo Lim is currently looking at the issue.

    But EO 003 remains in place and there are no plans to start providing free contraceptives again - not even condoms for sex workers.

    "The city will not use funds for the procurement of contraceptives - not when we have a budget deficit of more than 1bn pesos," said Dr Gina Pardilla of Manila City health department.

    "We need the money for other social and health needs."

    'Held hostage'

    The plaintiffs argue that EO 003 violates the constitution - which gives couples the right to plan a family in accordance with their beliefs - as well as several international conventions to which the Philippines is a signatory.

    Similar orders have been enacted in two other areas, which is why Elizabeth Pangalangan, Reprocen director and a lawyer for the petitioners, says it is important that the case sets a legal precedent.

    "We want to say that this cannot be done in Manila or anywhere else," she said.

    The group will take their case to international courts if necessary.

    Success in the courts would be welcomed by a silent majority, Professor Tan said, citing surveys which show most Filipinos want access to family planning.

    "Demand is very clear, but the problem is that the Catholic Church works on the supply side, getting to politicians like Mayor Atienza and threatening them with the so-called Catholic vote."

    A court decision might also embolden government officials to implement nationwide policies, he said.

    "The Department of Health is currently held hostage to the views of Arroyo - officials fear that they will lose their jobs if they promote family planning."

    "A court decision would free people by taking away the Sword of Damocles hanging over them."


    Story from BBC NEWS:
    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Manila women fight contraception ban

    Published: 2008/02/11 00:54:24 GMT

    BBC MMVIII
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    sickening.

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    They also banned CONDOMS?

    Enjoy your AIDS and STDs! Jesus. Sometimes it's hard to remember we're supposed to be in the 21st century.
    "Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

    "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin

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    Elite Member Dixie Normos's Avatar
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    You're right Aella, lack of condoms will distroy what the Catholics are trying to accomplish: large families.
    Men and women with certain STDs cannot procreate and women with herpes/men with syphillis prolly have a hard time gettin' it on!
    "In the face of the blinding sun, I wake only to find
    that Heaven is a stranger place than than one I've left behind." - SM

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    yeah, it is hard to believe this is the 21st century sometimes

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    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
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    OMG, how tragic, tragic.
    Is there something in the water over there that dissolves the brain??

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aella View Post
    They also banned CONDOMS?

    Enjoy your AIDS and STDs! Jesus. Sometimes it's hard to remember we're supposed to be in the 21st century.
    It just makes no sense

    I hope oneday abortion is legal in every country, and condoms should be available everywhere too...free in poor countries.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Sick,sick,sick.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lurkur View Post
    Is there something in the water over there that dissolves the brain??
    yeah, it's called religion. and this is what happens when there is no separation of church and state.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Butterfly's Avatar
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    This makes me sick! I don't know how any normal thinking person can support this religion.
    ><((((>. . `.><((((>><((((>`..`...><((((>.`.. ><((((> `..`...><((((>

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    it's not just catholics. a lot of fundies oppose birth control and sex education and pretty much all religions are for taking a way a woman's right to decide when and how and if she reproduces.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Butterfly's Avatar
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    Sputnik my hate for Catholic religion is the same for all organized religions... Every single last one.
    ><((((>. . `.><((((>><((((>`..`...><((((>.`.. ><((((> `..`...><((((>

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^
    oh, me too butterfly!
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Just what the Phillipines need, more poor families with babies they can't afford
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.


    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    I swear the leaders of this world get dumber by the day.

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