Catholic faculty heads will roll?

creative-writing-class-september-2008

One of our letter writers asked if the Vatican pressured Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, President of the Ateneo, into writing a memorandum to the university reminding us that the Catholic line is anti-Reproductive Health? And that heads — presumably that of the faculty — will roll? I am sure no heads will roll, since Ateneo — like all universities, I presume — value academic freedom and freedom of expression.

I do not really know if the Vatican did that, and why would they? Based on news reports, what I know is that Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of the CBCP wrote to Fr. Nebres asking him why we, the Ateneo professors, wrote a declaration of support for the Reproductive Health bill. And since when last I looked the Jesuits are still Catholics, naturally they would follow the Catholic line of thought. That is just pure and simple obedience, which is one of the three things a priest is sworn to follow, along with celibacy and poverty. Some of of my priest-friends (both Jesuit and non-Jesuit) tell me that of these three, obedience is the most difficult to follow. I am sure.

Anyway, all this reminds me of what a former Ateneo administrator told me, before I left for a Fulbright Fellowship in 2000 and I said I might not return to the Ateneo anymore because I found it such a small pond. She wickedly told me that a decade ago, when my gay anthology Ladlad first came out and became a bestseller, the secretary of the CBCP, a monsignor himself, called up Ateneo and asked if, indeed, I am teaching there? And then he demanded an explanation.

But the Ateneo administrator’s executive secretary — an elderly lady with the coolness of a cat and the claws of one — just answered nonchalantly with one word: “Yes.”

The monsignor at the other end of the line was waiting for our executive secretary to explain why this heathen who will be consigned to the flames of hell was teaching in a bastion of the Catholic Faith.

But our executive secretary herself just held the phone, and when no words came from the holy caller at the other end of the line, she just said, “Monsignor, I still have papers to type. I hope you will have a good day.”

‘Yan ang bongga.

Declaration of Support of Ateneo Faculty Members for RH Bill

28 October 2008

Dear Honorable Members of the House of Representatives and of the Philippine Senate:

Kindly find attached to this letter the Declaration of Support for the Immediate Passage of
House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development,” signed by 69 individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University.

After studying the provisions of House Bill 5043 in light of the realities of Filipino women, poor families, and our youth, we, 69 individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, speaking for ourselves and not for the University, have come to conclude that the Philippines urgently needs a national policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by House Bill 5043.

We hope our expression of support can help enrich and broaden the discussions and debates on the issue of reproductive health and population development, by presenting an alternative view supportive of House Bill 5043 coming from Catholic academics and educators.

We hope forthcoming initiatives from the House of Representatives and the Senate can engender dialogue among various groups espousing conflicting positions on this most crucial issue. May our collective efforts in dialogue lead to a more enlightened citizenry and bring about
what is the greatest good for our beloved people—especially women, the poor, and our youth.

Yours sincerely,

Sixty-nine individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University
(whose names are listed at the end of the Declaration of Support)

***

Declaration of support for the Reproductive Health Bill’s immediate passage into law
from individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University

We, individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, speaking for ourselves and not for the University, strongly support House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development,” and call for its immediate passage in Congress. After studying the bill’s provisions in light of the realities of Filipino women, poor families, and our youth, we have reached the conclusion that the Philippines urgently needs a national policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by the RH Bill.

A consistent, integrated, and comprehensive population framework guarantees budgetary support from the national government for reproductive health initiatives, and ensures their
sustainability across local government units regardless of changes in national and local leadership. While curbing our rapid population growth rate of 2.04 percent will not, by itself,
solve poverty in our country, addressing the population problem is crucial to overall economic
growth and poverty reduction, along with asset redistribution, employment and livelihood
opportunities, combating corruption, improving governance, and strengthening institutions.

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. Those who oppose the RH Bill have denounced it as “pro-abortion,” “anti-life,” “anti-women,” “anti-poor,” and “immoral.” However, our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.

The RH Bill is pro-life and pro-women. HB 5043 categorically rejects abortion, which it deems a “crime,” in consonance with the 1987 Constitution. What it, in fact, wants to do is prevent abortions by offering couples an array of “medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality” family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them. In sodoing, the RH Bill seeks to avert unwanted and mistimed pregnancies, which cause mostly poor and married women despairing over yet another pregnancy to seek an induced abortion. We are alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women went for an abortion in 2000, and that some
79,000 of them wound up in hospitals for abortion complications. We consider it our guilt and
our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

*

This declaration of support is based on the 15 October 2008 position paper entitled “Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience” by individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, namely Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies), Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology), Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology), Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics), Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy), Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy), Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology), Anne Marie A. Karaos(Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology), Liza L. Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology), Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), and Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy).

***

We believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, whether that life is the mother’s or the unborn child’s. It is for this reason that we support the RH Bill’s intent to expand couples’ — but especially women’s — access to safe, legal, and reliable family planning methods, whether modern natural or modern artificial. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that women’s access to effective contraception would avert 30 percent of maternal deaths, 90 percent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities, and 20 percent of child deaths. Thus, the
RH Bill is not only pro-life (in that it aims to prevent the termination of an unborn child’s life),
but also pro-women, because it enables them to plan the number and spacing of their children so as to avoid frequent and closely-spaced pregnancies that imperil their health and lives. Moreover, given that our maternal mortality rate is a staggeringly high 162 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, the RH Bill aims to improve maternal and infant health by enjoining cities and
municipalities to provide an adequate number of skilled birth attendants and hospitals rendering
comprehensive emergency obstetric care.

In sum, because reproductive health is central to women’s overall health, fundamental aspects of women’s wellbeing are compromised when reproductive health is ignored. The conditions under which choices are made are as important as the actual content of women’s choices: the right to choose is meaningful only if women have real power to choose.

The RH Bill is pro-poor. Based on the Pulse Asia 2007 survey on family planning, an overwhelming majority (92%) of Filipinos believe that it is important to plan their family, and most (89%) say that the government should allocate funding for modern artificial methods of family planning, including the pill, intrauterine devices (IUDs), condoms, ligation, and vasectomy. And yet only 5 out of 10 married women (50.6%) use any family planning method, whether modern natural or modern artificial. This suggests a significant unmet need for reproductive health services.

By treating contraceptives as “essential medicines,” HB 5043 makes contraceptives (including those requiring hospital services like tubal ligation, vasectomy, and IUD insertion) part of the National Drug Formulary, and therefore more accessible and cheaper for Filipinos. This is a decidedly pro-poor measure, considering that the majority (58.1%) of those who use modern artificial family planning methods rely on the government for their supply of contraceptives. Our Catholic faith calls on us to embrace the preferential option for the poor and marginalized. We therefore support the RH Bill, which we believe will be especially beneficial for our poorest 20 percent who cannot afford family planning services, and therefore have the highest unmet need for family planning (26.7%), and 2.5 children more than they desire. Furthermore, we uphold the principle of integral human development, which is why we want couples to be able to have only the number of children that they want and can adequately feed, clothe, care for, and send to school, so that they can attain their full potential as human beings, and contribute to the development of Philippine society.

The RH Bill is pro-youth. As teachers of our young people, we are deeply concerned that, over time, more of them are getting initiated into sex at increasingly younger ages. Based on the 1994 and 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality surveys of the UP Population Institute, not
only did the proportion of youth aged 15-24 who are engaged in premarital sex increase (from
17.8% in 1994, to 23.4% in 2002), but the average age of their first sexual encounter declined
(from 18 in 1994, to 17.5 in 2002). Even more worrisome is how their premarital sex act is often
unprotected, with three in four of them (75.1%) admitting to not using any kind ofcontraceptive
during their most recent premarital sex act, primarily because of lack of knowledge on contraception. Our young people’s premarital and unprotected sex therefore places them at high
risk for early pregnancies, and contracting HIV-AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases.

We favor the RH Bill’s provision of mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education, believing as we do that much of our youth’s risky sexual behavior is linked to their lack of information and values formation on their reproductive and sexual health. We take exception to the opinion that teaching them about sex will make them prurient and promiscuous. Rather, we hold the view that by providing our young people the information and values they would need to take care of their reproductive health, and by creating opportunities for them to articulate and clarify their questions and feelings about sex, we are empowering them to make responsible decisions regarding their sexuality and sexual behavior, whether now or in the future. After all, Catholic social theology teaches us that the principle of human dignity requires us to uphold human rights, which include the right to education and appropriate information (Gaudium et Spes, 1965) and the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth (Centesimus Annus, 1991).

The RH Bill is pro-informed choice. In seeking to promote both modern natural and modern artificial methods of family planning (with “no bias for either”), HB 5043 recognizes that couples, especially women, have the right to choose the family planning method that they consider to be the safest and most effective for them, provided that these are legally permissible. Although natural family planning (NFP) which the Catholic Church promotes offers many benefits, it is important to realize that pursuing an NFP-only population policy will be a disservice, if not a grave injustice, to women and couples for whom NFP simply cannot work. We are thinking of women who find it impossible to predict their infertile periods; or couples who see each other on an irregular basis; or women who are trapped in abusive relationships with men who demand sex anytime they want it. Why is it morally wrong for such women and couples — and even others not encompassed by the above situations — to use a modern artificial family planning method that has been pronounced safe and non-abortifacient by health authorities, if their discernment of their particular situation has led them to conclude that such a method will enable them to fulfill the demands of marital love and responsible parenthood?

Catholic social teachings recognize the primacy of the well-formed conscience over wooden compliance to directives from political and religious authorities. Gaudium et Spes (1965) tells us: “In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged” (no. 16).

We respect the consciences of our bishops when they promote natural family planning as the only moral means of contraception, in adherence to the teachings of Humanae Vitae (1968).
In turn, we ask our bishops to respect the one in three (35.6%) married Filipino women who, in
their “most secret core and sancturary” or conscience, have decided that their and their family’s interests would best be served by using a modern artificial means of contraception. Is it not possible that these women and their spouses were obeying their well-informed and well-formed consciences when they opted to use an artificial contraceptive?

We therefore ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of HB 5043,
which promotes women’s and couples’ access to the full range of safe, legal, and effective
modern natural and modern artificial family planning methods, from which they can choose the
one most suitable to their needs and personal and religious convictions. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others. In pursuit of the common good, or the “sum total of social conditions which allow people… to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Gaudium et Spes 1965, no. 26), we call on the Catholic Church to let the RH Bill pass in Congress, and to consider forging a principled collaboration with the government in the promotion of natural family planning, which Humanae Vitae deems morally acceptable, and in the formation of consciences with emphasis on the value of responsible sex and parenthood.

To our fellow Catholics who, in good conscience, have come to conclude, as we have, that we need a reproductive health law: we ask you to declare your support for HB 5043.

Finally, we call on our legislators in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to pass the RH Bill. Doing so upholds the constitutional right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions; honors our commitments to international covenants; and promotes the reproductive health and reproductive rights of Filipinos, especially of those who are most marginalized on this issue — our women, poor families, and youth.

We sign this declaration as individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, and
speak for ourselves and not for the rest of our colleagues or the University.

Signed: 69 individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University (28 October 2008)

Ricardo G. Abad (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Joy G. Aceron (Department of Political Science)
Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology)
Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology)
Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics)
Raul Socrates C. Banzuela (Program for Development Studies)
Raymundo S. Baquiran, M.D. (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)
Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
Germelino M. Bautista (Department of Economics)
Edsel L. Beja, Jr. (Department of Economics)
Rofel G. Brion (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Ma. Cecilia C. Bulos (Department of Psychology)
Liberty L. Chee (Department of Modern Languages)
Sharon Ann C. Co (Department of Psychology)
Antonio Esteban G. Conejos (Department of English)
Manuel D. Cuenca, Jr., M.D. (Department of Psychology)
Gary C. Devilles (Kagawaran ng Filipino)
Aleta C. Domdom (Department of Economics)
Atty. Alexander C. Dy (Ateneo Law School)
Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ana Marie O. Fernandez (Department of English)
Joseph H. Francia (Department of Economics)
Jamil Paolo S. Francisco (Department of Economics)
Geoffrey A. Guevara (Department of Philosophy)
Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology)
Ma. Regina M. Hechanova (Department of Psychology)
Anne Marie A. Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Albert M. Lagliva (Department of Philosophy)
Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology)
Liza L. Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Emma Concepcion D. Liwag (Department of Psychology)
Ada Javellana Loredo (Department of English)
Jozon A. Lorenzana (Department of Communication)
J. Ma. Arcadio Malbarosa (Department of Philosophy)
Michael Ner E. Mariano (Department of Philosophy)
Pamela Joy M. Mariano (Department of Philosophy)
Ma. Isabel Pefianco Martin (Department of English)
Marcia Czarina Corazon M. Medina (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Isabel E. Melgar (Department of Psychology)
Luisito G. Montalbo (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)
Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology)
Aaron Rom O. Moralina (Department of History)
Jocelyn M. Mayoralga-Nolasco (Department of Psychology)
Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo (Department of Psychology)
Glenda C. Oris (Kagawaran ng Filipino)
Josephine P. Perez (Department of Psychology)
Raul Pertierra (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Caroliza T. Peteros (Program for Development Studies)
Alicia T. Pingol (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Emma E. Porio (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Margarita A. Ramos (Department of Psychology)
Mariel Vincent A. Rapisura (Program for Development Studies)
Danton R. Remoto (Department of English)
Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)
Alma Maria O. Salvador (Department of Political Science)
Atty. Maria Cleofe Gettie C. Sandoval (Leaders for Health Program, AGSB – Health Unit)
Joselito T. Sescon (Department of Economics)
Anton Luis C. Sevilla (Department of Philosophy)
Alma Valerie C. Soriano (Department of English)
Sherilyn T. Siy (Department of Psychology)
Mary C. Thomas (Department of English)
Jose Ma. Edito K. Tirol (Department of History)
Philip Arnold P. Tuaño (Department of Economics)
Eileen F. Tupaz (Department of Philosophy)
John Carlo P. Uy (Department of Philosophy)
Ma. Eufemia C. Yap, M.D. (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)

Bishops can be wrong

Of course, I am one of the signatories to this open letter. And I have signified my intention to join public discussions on this bill. Let the debates begin! — Danton Remoto, Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University

***

Editorial
Manila Standard Today

A heavy-handed attempt by the bishops to silence dissent on the reproductive health bill among thinking Catholics is backfiring.

Yesterday, 55 more faculty members of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University joined 14 of their colleagues who last week urged the passage of House Bill 5043, which the Church has condemned as “anti-life.”

This was probably the exact opposite effect that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines hoped to achieve when its president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, wrote Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres to lay down the law on the bill.

In his letter, Lagdameo asked Nebres to explain why the 14 original faculty members, including some from the Department of Theology, had publicly declared their support for the bill.

The pressure from the bishops prompted Nebres to issue a memo to the Ateneo community, reminding them that the university, as a Catholic institution, must toe the Church line and oppose the reproductive health bill.

But the 55 professors who joined their colleagues this week would have none of that, and urged the bishops instead to reconsider their position and support the bill.

The professors said they are alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women had abortions in 2000, simply because they did not have access to birth control.

“We consider it our guilt and our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy,” their declaration of support said.

They also resisted pressure to toe the Church line in their classes. As Catholic educators, they said it was incumbent upon them to teach their students that the bill was not immoral, as the Church claims.

Instead, they said, the bill is pro-life and pro-women. It also categorically rejects abortion and seeks to prevent it by offering couples an array of medically safe, legal, affordable and quality family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them.

This is certainly not what the bishops wanted to hear, but the fact that they are getting this kind of a reaction should tell them something about how out of touch they are with their flock. It also reminds us that clerics, like all humans, are fallible. But then we already knew that—when they opposed HB 5043.

More Ateneo profs defy Church on birth control

By Christine F. Herrera
Manila Standard Today

GOING against an admonition from Catholic bishops, at least 55 professors from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University have joined 14 of their colleagues who last week urged the passage of the reproductive health bill.

The Ateneo teachers not only refused to toe the Church line to reject the bill, but urged the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to reconsider its position and take into account the lives of 473,400 women who resorted to abortion because they lacked an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The 69 Catholic educators wrote to the 240 members of the House of Representatives and the 23-member Senate and attached to their letter an 11-page Declaration of Support for the Immediate Passage of House Bill 5043, which seeks to establish a national policy on family planning.

The bill supports the use of contraceptives such as condoms, and age-appropriate sex education in schools, both of which the Church opposes.

The Ateneo professors, including those from the Department of Theology, the Ateneo Law School and the Ateneo School of Medicine, also furnished the Catholic bishops and Ateneo president Bienvenido Nebres a copy of their declaration of support.

Nebres, who was prompted to issue a memo to the Ateneo community last week after CBCP president Angel Lagdameo made him explain the 20-page position paper of the original 14 Ateneo professors, went on a week-long retreat and could not be reached for comment.

Asked if she feared dismissal for defying the bishops, professor Mary Racelis of the Department of Sociology-Anthropology said: “Ateneo is an academic institution. I hope it will not come to that.

“We want the bishops to look at our position and to read the reproductive health bill so that the clergy will understand that contrary to their long-held belief, the RH bill is pro-poor, anti-abortion, pro-women and pro-life,” said Racelis, who has been with Ateneo since 1960 and now teaches graduate school.

The professors said they were alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women had abortions in 2000, and that some 79,000 of them wound up in hospitals with complications.

“We consider it our guilt and our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy,” their declaration of support said.

“We believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, whether that life is the mother’s or the unborn child’s,” the professors said.

As Catholic educators, Racelis said it was incumbent upon them to teach their students that the RH bill was not “immoral” as the Church claims.

“We respect the consciences of our bishops when they promote natural family planning as the only moral means of contraception. In turn, we ask our bishops to respect the one in three [35.6 percent] married Filipino women who, in their most secret core and sanctuary or conscience, have decided that their and their family’s interests would best be served by using a modern artificial means of contraception,” they said.

They asked the bishops and their fellow Catholics not to block the passage of HB 5043, which, they said, promoted women’s and couples’ access to the full range of safe, legal and effective modern natural and artificial family planning methods, from which they can choose the one most suitable to their needs and personal and religious convictions.

“We call on our legislators in Congress and in the Senate to pass the RH bill. Doing so upholds the constitutional right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions; honors our commitments to international covenants and promotes the reproductive health and reproductive rights of Filipinos, especially of those who are most marginalized on this issue—our women, poor families, and youth,” the professors said.

Aware that the RH bill will be taken up by the House plenary on second reading starting on Nov. 10, when Congress resumes its sessions, the professors said they hope their expression of support could help enrich and broaden the discussions and debates on the issue of reproductive health and population development.

They told the House and Senate that the declaration of support was an alternative view coming from Catholic academics and educators.

“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 RH bill is pro-life and pro-women. HB 5043 categorically rejects abortion. What it, in fact, wants to do is prevent abortions by offering couples an array of medically safe, legal, affordable and quality family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them,” they said.

14 Ateneo professors: ‘RH bill adheres to Catholic teaching’

I do not know why my friends and fellow professors at the Ateneo did not solicit my signature in this statement, but I sure agree with them on this note. It shows that dissent — and the light of reason — exists even when the official statement and the statsus quo say just to follow the Catholic teaching, blindly if need be. — Danton Remoto

***

BY Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 10/16/2008 4:45 PM

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.”

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said.

Theology department, too

The faculty members came from various departments of Ateneo. One of them belongs to the Department of Theology. They stressed that they are only speaking for themselves and not for the University.

Their position paper came out after the results of Social Weather Station’s poll on public support for the reproductive health bill were released. It showed that 68 percent—7 in every 10 Filipinos—want a law on contraceptives.

The following are the signatories:
1. Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
2. Raymond Aguas (Department of Theology)
3. Liane Pena Alampay (Department of Psychology)
4. Fernando Aldaba (Department of Economics)
5. Remmon Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
6. Manuel Dy Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
7. Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
8. Roberto Guevara (Department of Theology)
9. Anne Marie Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
10. Michael Liberatore (Department of Theology)
11. Liza Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
12. Cristina Jayme Montiel (Deparment of Psychology)
13. Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
14. Agustin Martin Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)

‘Pro-poor, pro-Life, pro-Women’

In saying that the “Scripture teaches us that God has a special concern for the poor and vulnerable,” the faculty members stress the provisions of the reproductive health bill that are “explicitly pro-poor.”

Section 11 of the proposed bill mandates congressional districts to acquire, operate, and maintain “a van to be known as the Mobile Health Care Services” to deliver reproductive health care services to the poor and needy.

The poor’s lack of access to health services is blamed for the poor maternal and child health situation in the Philippines.

· 10 women die every 24 hours from almost entirely preventable cases of related to pregnancy and childbirth.
· 6 out of 10 women deliver at home, where they rarely have access to a skilled birth attendant.
· 24 out of 1,000 babies under one year old die every year.

The paper also stressed the importance of planning the family. “There is no question that poverty in the Philippines is exacerbated by our rapid population growth,” the paper said.

It cited studies showing that women in the lowest quintile, who usually bear an average of six children, have at least two children more than their ideal number (3.5). They noted that the increase in family size also means a decrease in per capita income, a decrease in per capita savings, and a decrease in per capita expenditure on education and health.

This will be prevented if Filipinos are familiar with the family planning methods, they said. “The inability of women in the poorest quintile to achieve the number of children they want stems from their high unmet need for family planning,” the paper said.

It will also prevent abortion, they said.

Based on 2000 statistics, there were about half million recorded abortion cases—or 27 abortions per 1,000 women. According to the position paper, this is because “abortion has become a family planning method, in the absence of information on and access to any reliable means to prevent an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.”

Earlier, 27 professors from the University of the Philippines economics department issued a statement, backed by research, supporting the reproductive health bill.