Panamanian government taking advantage of bishops’ absence to pass new law on "reproductive health"


Pro-family groups in Panama are denouncing the government’s Ministries of Health and Education for taking advantage of the absence of the country’s Catholic bishops—who are currently in Rome for their ad limina visit—to present a controversial bill on sexual and reproductive health that would violate the right of parents to decide the kind of sexual education their children receive.

Although the measure is being promoted as a means of improving maternal health, preventing unwanted pregnancies and AIDS, it has been severely questioned because it grants so-called "sexual rights" to minors, "taking away from parents the possibility of being involved and correcting the danger sexual behavior of our children," pro-family officials told CNA.

They also denounced the Minister of Social Development, Maria Roquebert, "who said the law had been co-sponsored by the Catholic Church. This a huge lie." Before the measure was presented, Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Panama, told Vatican Radio that just as in other parts of the world, in Panama there is an ongoing battle for the defense of the family and life.

He said Panama has been the target of attacks in the area of healthcare and education for the last two years, during which there have been numerous attempts to introduce laws on sexual and reproductive health.

Daisy de Guevara, executive secretary of the National Commission on Family Ministry, told CNA that "if that is true, they are taking advantage of the bishops’ absence in order to pass this law. As a citizen, I think this is an irresponsible and disrespectful attitude."

"In previous consultations with the Panamanian society, the Church has very clearly shown their opposition to this measure. Many of its articles are in conflict with the principles of the Church," Guevara said. She stressed that the new bill promotes homosexuality and new "sexes," and that such lifestyles are a "source of problems and suffering for these very same people. This is a non-negotiable issue for the Catholic Church," she said.

Juan Francisco de la Guardia Brin of the Panamanian Institute For Family Education remarked that the measure "distorts the greatness of human sexuality, as it makes sexual education based on gender perspective obligatory and introduces an ideology that is contrary to the promotion of the family as the pillar of our society."

"Not only is a hedonistic and mistaken concept of sexual relations being introduced to children and adolescents by teaching them different sexual orientations," he explained, "but under the premise of avoiding teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, minors are being exposed to the indiscriminate use of artificial contraceptives at an early age with little or no medical supervision, and promiscuity is being endorsed, which will make the number of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that can cause death rise even further."

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