RH Bill Not Evil, Says Protestant Church Leader

By: Jefry M. Tupas, InterAksyon.com
August 6, 2012 2:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines – A Protestant Church leader in Davao City said Monday the highly contested Reproductive Health Bill is “not evil” because it offers Filipinos, especially the poor, freedom to plan their families, but stressed that his group respects the position of the Catholic Church.

How can it be evil, asked Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), if it is designed to help poor families access maternal and children’s health services and products and help families make an informed decision about family size?

“It is not evil. It is not perfect but definitely it is not evil. The measure is in fact good for the many Filipino families who are poor and needing of help,” said Villasanta.

He said he personally hopes that Congress will pass the measure into law. “If they vote for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, they will vote to end the suffering of countless poor families, especially women and children. It would mean that they are responding to the need of the Filipinos in relation to reproductive health,” Villasanta said.

The vote would somehow show that the government has recognized the fact that majority of the Filipinos need help. “In a way, this is to say that the government has recognized and therefore will be responding to the need of the poor families, particularly women and their children.”

Villasanta said the position of the entire UCCP as a church is also supportive of the bill. He stressed, however, that the UCCP respects the position of the Catholic Church.

“We are supporting the passage of the bill not because we have a different view with the Catholic Church. Our position and support come from what will Filipinos get from this measure. The theological stand of the Catholic Church is something that we respect. We do not question and counter that position,” he said.

In a separate paper, the UCCP that the bill “empowers families to decide the number and spacing of their children.

“The bill does state the ideal family size to be two children; however, there is no forced compliance or penalty for having more or less children. The declaration of an ideal family size is neither necessary nor appropriate. Our efforts should be to empower couples to decide the number and spacing of their children and to join with them as they celebrate God’s faithfulness in all circumstances,” the paper states.

The UCCP also underscored the fact that the bill “promotes gender equality, male responsibility and an end to violence against women.”

“Though the HB4244 does not take up comprehensively the issue of violence against women, there are efforts to affirm the complementation of the rights, responsibilities and roles on women and men in relationships,” the UCCP said.

It noted that discussion is “needed on the process of deciding family planning while respecting the rights of women and men. Fidelity in marriage, unacceptability of abuse to spouses and children, single parenthood, and child-rearing after separation are a few family issues that could likewise be engaged. An end to prostitution of women and children also should be addressed.”

It said: “Natural and modern family planning methods, including contraceptives may be a personal right and choice; however, it is necessary to make sure that available options are of good standards and quality.”

“Family and community sensibilities and culture are ever-changing. The UCCP has a responsibility in the shaping of cultural norms and expectations, as conduits of care and witness in line with God’s Will. In our current reality some people strongly believe that large families mean security in old age and some strongly believe that contraceptives are wrong,” it stated.

“Others are struggling with contradicting reports that certain contraceptives may be abortifacients (that is, these may cause a fertilized egg to be expelled from the body). Health practitioners have also warned that we need to be wary of the dumping in the Philippines of pharmaceutical banned in other countries,” it added.

And Villasanta said: “Our statement is addressed to the UCCP faithful. We do not wish to be construed as giving this paper to all.”

But the paper also addressed the Roman Catholic faithful. It said the UCCP regards the Catholic position towards the RH Bill with “understanding and sympathy.”

“We recognize the deep historical, theological and ethical roots beneath your stance vis-à-vis government advocacy for the regulation of population growth. We respect your judgment on what is good and morally right for the Catholic flock. Despite our differences in the theological and ethical appreciation of RH Bill, we don’t consider that as a matter of who is right and who is wrong between us,” the paper said.

“As part of the larger Protestant family, the UCCP has a mind and appreciation for moral issues that has been formed from our own unique historical journey of faith. We believe that a clear mind and a clean conscience are gifts from God and sufficient to discern what is right or wrong through a faithful and disciplined reading of the Scriptures,” it added.

Source: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/39604/rh-bill-not-evil-says-protestant-church-leader

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