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Christian churches back reproductive health bill

in PHILIPPINES, 05/04/2011

Not all religious organizations are against the reproductive health (RH) bill in Congress. This was the message of the leaders of the Protestant and evangelical Christian Churches on Thursday, as they expressed support for the bill, which is being strongly opposed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Dr. Rommel Linatoc of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) said the organization has thrown its support for the bill, saying it would affirm quality life for families and ensure the good health of mothers.

In a forum sponsored by the pro-RH bill Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation on Thursday, Linatoc described the bill as “pro-people, pro-women, and pro-humanity.” “That is why the NCCP and all its affiliate churches nationwide are supporting it,” he said.

Bishop Efraim Tendero, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), the largest network of evangelical Christians in the Philippines, said the bill’s provisions followed Christian teachings on respecting life.

"The RH bill protects the life of both the mother and the baby in her womb,” Tendero said. “Supporting the bill is pro-quality of life” he added.

PCEC is composed of 25,000 evangelical churches, 66 denominations, and 150 para-church and mission organizations.

The Catholic Church has come out in full force against the House bill called “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2011” and its Senate counterpart, saying it promotes promiscuity and abortion.

The Church also opposes the bill's endorsement of modern family planning methods that it defines as “safe, effective and legal methods, whether natural or artificial, that are registered with the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health.”

Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), said the Catholic Church should not monopolize the religious debate on the bill.

He noted that other religious organizations backing the RH bill found it to be consonant with the teachings in the Bible as its provisions sought to improve a family's well-being.

“There are other churches that really are for the passage of the RH and RP bill as they know their members will benefit from it,” said San Pascual.

“That is why we do not understand why some leaders of the Catholic church are so stubborn that they refuse to see the issue in the perspective of its parishioners who in fact clamors for RH education and services,” he added.

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