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In the Philippines, access to contraceptives is limited for the most part to those with the means to pay. The Catholic Church has fought a "reproductive health bill" in the legislature that would change that.
MANILA — Shortly after sunrise, a woman with soulful eyes and short-cropped black hair hurried down a narrow alley in flip-flops, picking her way around clusters of squatting children, piles of trash and chunks of concrete.
Yolanda Naz's daily scramble had begun. Peddling small shampoo packets in the shantytown of San Andres, she raced to earn enough money to feed her eight children.
She went door to door in the sweltering heat, charming and cajoling neighbors into parting with a few pesos. After several hours, she had scrounged enough to buy a kilo of rice, a few eggs and a cup of tiny shrimp.
"My husband and I skip lunch if there is no money," Naz said as she dished rice and shrimp sauce into eight plastic bowls in the 10-by-12-foot room where the family eats and sleeps.
This was not the life Naz wanted. She and her husband, who sells coconut drinks from a pushcart, agreed early in their marriage to stop at three children. Though a devout Catholic, she took birth control pills in defiance of priests' instructions at Sunday Mass.
But after her third child was born, the mayor of Manila — with the blessing of Roman Catholic bishops — halted the distribution of contraceptives at public clinics to promote "a culture of life." The order put birth control pills and other contraceptives out of reach for millions of poor Filipinos, who could not afford to buy them at private pharmacies.
"For us, the banning of the pills was ugly," Naz said. "We were the ones who suffered."
At 36, she had more children than teeth, common for poor women after repeated pregnancies and breast-feeding.
Undernourished and living in close quarters, her children were often sick. Measles was sweeping through the shantytown, afflicting two of Naz's sons and her 3-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who hung like a rag doll from her mother's arms.
"I pray to God. I pray really, really hard," she said. "Should God decide to take my kids, just don't let them suffer."
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Is this how a church best looks after its people? What about the 20% of filipinos who aren't even Catholic? This isn't a country where you can flounce about telling them to skip a latte and get a month of Ortho instead. They have to work a week just to afford a latte.Answer Question
I think it's tragic when religion trumps personal choice. Those families should have the right and ability to determine the size and spacing of their families. If they agree with the Catholic Church, then they can try NFP. If they don't, why does the CC have the power to make those decisions for them by making birth control almost completely inaccessible? What benefit does it do anyone to raise children in abject poverty, with parents wondering how they'll be able to feed and clothe their families when they can't even feed themselves? How is this humane? This sort of story really angers me. It's so unjust. Why does the CC have such power? When was the last time the Pope and Bishops watched these kids starve to death? I think they must turn a blind eye to the suffering. The thought makes my blood boil.
Answer by jsbenkert at 12:00 AM on Aug. 8, 2012
Answer by Ballad at 2:27 AM on Aug. 8, 2012
Answer by ..Serenity.. at 9:54 AM on Aug. 8, 2012
Answer by baconbits at 10:44 AM on Aug. 8, 2012
Answer by okmanders at 12:07 PM on Aug. 8, 2012
That's just .... you know I can't even find the words. The rhythm method isn't the most effective form of birth control, but it is free. Anyone who wants birth control should be able to get it. They should pass the bill despite what the catholic church thinks about it.
Answer by 2autisticsmom at 5:37 PM on Aug. 8, 2012
Answer by brandyj at 6:42 PM on Aug. 8, 2012
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