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Pro-RH Catholics to Palace: We are also Catholics, not only the bishops, and we need RH

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Amid reports of the recent second Palace and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) dialogue on the Reproductive Health bill, a group of pro-RH Catholics lauded the Palace for its strong position on the issue of providing RH services in particular on the matter of family planning.

In a press conference organized by The FORUM on Family Planning and Development (FORUM), a group of Catholics expressed appreciation for the Aquino government keeping its promise to support the availability of all family planning methods, including both the natural and modern methods.

According to Benjamin de Leon, President of the FORUM, their group is pleased that the Palace has remained undaunted and stood firm in its position to make all methods of family planning, both natural and modern methods, be made equally available.

“By making available all family planning methods and allowing couples to choose what method is best for them is a show of respect to individual’s right to follow his or her conscience and religious convictions,” noted De Leon. “And we are thankful that the Palace has remained strong in this position amidst pressure from the Church hierarchy,” De Leon added.

But even with these developments, the group remains watchful since another meeting between the Palace and the CBCP is set.  While confident that the Palace understands that family planning is an important component in addressing poverty, and that they will stand firm on their decision, the group hopes that these dialogues with CBCP will have positive results that will benefit all Filipinos.

“Our Filipino Catholic bishops have been stubborn on this issue since time immemorial, and there is no way that they will change their position,” explains Atty. Zenaida Reyes, Chairperson of the Philippine NGO Council (PNGOC).  “The Palace can always have a dialogue with them to show their respect but shouldn’t they also dialogue with civil society and women’s organizations?”  The group believes that instead of trying to appease the Church, the Palace should expedite the works to make possible the passage of the reproductive health bill.

Dr. Delen dela Paz, Executive Director of Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and National Coordinator of Catholics for RH also expressed her disappointment saying “I think that we should stop giving in to the whims of the CBCP.  It is unfair to women that the opinions of priests or bishops are valued more than those whose lives are at stake.  They don’t even get pregnant nor have mouths to feed.”

We are Catholics too, and we need access to reproductive health education and services, the Palace and our lawmakers should listen to us and not the Bishops and Catholic leaders,” De Leon stressed.  “Besides, surveys after survey have shown that Catholics need access to reproductive health education and services and that they are supportive of the reproductive health bill,” ended De Leon. -30- Chi Laigo Vallido, THE FORUM.

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