Patrick Craine

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Confusion over Pope’s comments threatens campaign against Philippines repro health bill

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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MANILA, Philippines, November 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Confusion in the Catholic and secular international media over Pope Benedict’s recent comments on the use of condoms may be seriously jeopardizing years of efforts by the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines to defeat what they believe is a dangerous “Reproductive Health” bill.

The bishops have condemned the Filipino government’s “opportunistic misuse” of the Pope’s comments on condoms to promote the highly-controversial bill heavily backed by local and international population control forces.

Among other serious objections, the Filipino bishops insist the bill will inevitably pave the way to legalized abortion in the strongly Catholic country. In their Catechism on Family and Life for the 2010 Elections, the bishops wrote:

A high-ranking official of a foreign country massively funding reproductive health services in the Philippines categorically stated last April that, “We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion.” Many countries all over the world and the United Nations agencies work for reproductive health and rights until they have fully facilitated access to abortion.

President Benigno Aquino and other advocates of the country’s so-called “Reproductive Health” bill say the Pope’s reported comments on condoms will help them surmount the Church’s strong opposition.  “Our clergy cannot be more popish than the pope,” said Ricky Carandang, the president’s spokesman.

In a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald published this week, Pope Benedict XVI defended his statement from Africa in 2009 that condoms were detrimental to the fight against AIDS.  While condoms are not a “real or moral solution” to the AIDS crisis, the Pope told Seewald, the use of a condom by a male prostitute could be “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

The world’s media took the Pope’s words to signal a relaxing of the Church’s traditional teaching against contraception, running headlines such as “Pope endorses limited use of condoms.”  International bodies like the World Health Organization and UNAIDS praised the Pope for making “a positive step forward.”

Carandang said the comments were “a good step,” urging the Filipino bishops to follow the Vatican’s lead.  “I think our own clergy should be informed by the views of the Vatican because they’ve always referred to the Vatican when they stated their position,” he said.  “Now that the Vatican’s position is such, then I think that should result in a corresponding flexibility on the part of our Church.”

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, the author of House Bill No. 96 stated in Monday’s Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Pope’s comments were a “departure from the strictly very conservative approach of the papacy and the Catholic Church” on contraception. He further added,  “Once you have opened up and made an exception, the liberalization of the Church outlook has started. And we’d expect further liberalization. He has made an exception, then more exception would be forthcoming.”

But orthodox Catholic leaders, theologians, and journalists emphasize that the Pope has not, and in fact cannot, change Church teaching.  Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, insisted that “it’s clear that the Pope is holding to what the Church has always taught in these matters.”

“When he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing,” the American prelate told the National Catholic Register.

Nevertheless, one of the Philippines bill’s authors, Congresswoman Janette Garin, said the confusion generated both in the Church and in the world’s media will work to their advantage.  “It makes passage of the bill a lot easier because people would see the confusing stand of the church,” she told AFP.  “The educated and those who are confused about the bill will realize we (family-planning advocates) are concerned about the community while they (the bishops) are simply holding on to a Stone Age belief.”

Msgr. Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Philippines’ Bishops Conference, said that the Holy Father’s comment “does not in any way change the position of the church against artificial contraception,” and insisted the Filipino bishops would maintain their strong opposition to the bill.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Oscar Cruz urged President Aquino to stop the “opportunistic misuse” of the Pope’s comments.  The archbishop-emeritus of Lingayen-Dagupan emphasized that the Pope did not endorse the use of condoms, either for controlling population or as a moral solution to the AIDS epidemic.

“When we argue let’s not take half-truths because we will lose that way. I’m sorry to disappoint people who are hoping otherwise,” he said Archbishop Oscar Cruz, according to CBCPNews.

“I understand the RH proponents that they would even throw a kitchen sink just to push what they want,” he said. “Our only appeal is that for them to just stick with the truth… please!”

The Catholic bishops in the country, which is about 80% Catholic, have been fierce defenders of the truth on the transmission of life.  They have fought various incarnations of the “reproductive health bill,” which they have warned will eventually lead to approval of abortion in the Philippines, for over a decade.


Contact Information:

Willy C. Gaa, Philippines Ambassador the United States
Embassy of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
United States of America
Tel: 202-467-9300
Fax: 202-467-9417
E-mail: Fill in form here.

Jose Brillantes, Philippines Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Philippines
130 Albert Street, Suite 606
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Canada
Phone: 1-(613)-233-1121
Fax: 1-(613)-233-4165
E-mail: ambassador@philippineembassy.ca

 


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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

Rachel Daly
By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

Click "like" to support Catholics Restoring the Culture!

As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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