.- The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is assisting an effort to craft an alternative version of the country’s controversial proposed Reproductive Health bill, saying their preferred version will “promote authentic human development.”
One feature of the bill is its non-promotion of contraceptives in family planning, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life executive Secretary Father Melvin Castro told CBCP News.
“Instead of the RH bill we are instead proposing another bill that would really address the poverty of our people and promote authentic human development,” he said, emphasizing that the Church is only providing input to help “pro-family legislators” draft the bill and make it more “morally acceptable.”
“It should not be labeled as a Catholic Church bill,” Father Castro remarked.
Family Media Advocacy spokesperson Jo Imbong explained that the proposal is a common effort between lawmakers and pro-life groups “so that all the dimensions of human development are considered.”
“The bill is being worked by the Bishops-Legislators’ Caucus (BLC) and several associations of families... because families should be consulted in matters that affect them,” she said.
BLC executive director Fenny Tatad reported that the suggestion the Church be involved came from the lawmakers themselves.
“It is now under major refinement,” Tatad said of the bill, adding that drafters hope to finish it as soon as possible.
The Reproductive Health Bill which the new version is intended to replace was passed by the Philippines House Committee on Health last month.
The Church has long had significant influence in the Philippines on issues like the legalization of divorce or the promotion and use of condoms. The Church teaches that condoms frustrate the intimate and procreative purposes of the sexual act and are thus immoral, even for HIV/AIDS prevention.