By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

BOGOTA, October 29, 2010 ( – The general secretary of the Colombian Catholic Episcopal Conference is condemning the country’s new sterilization law, which requires the government to provide vasectomies and tubal ligations to the public free of charge.

“The Church does not agree with bodily mutilation because both vasectomy and tubal ligation are mutilations of the body and the body has to be respected,” said Archbishop Juan Vicenta Córdoba in an interview with the Associated Press following passage of the law.

Córdoba added that many people receive sterilizations because “they don’t want to have more children, and others do it to have a free sexual life and a little tranquility in their promiscuity.”

The archbishop observed that Natural Family Planning (NFP) is available for those who need to avoid future pregnancies, “which is marvelous and natural.”

The Catholic Church teaches that all artificial means of avoiding pregnancy are immoral, including both contraception and sterilization. Natural Family Planning, which involves abstinence from intercourse during the fertile period of a woman’s cycle, is permitted when a couple has serious reasons for needing to avoid future pregnancies, such as economic or physical difficulties.

The author of the law, Samuel Arrieta, told the AP that at least 10,000 men are expected to receive a free vasectomy each year under his legislation.  He added that about 8,000 women received tubal ligations in 2009, before the subsidies came into effect.


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