Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bantay RH in Manila

Two (2) opposing news on Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza's acts re: RH issues during his term. Read on....

Family-planning advocates plan to sue Lito Atienza
Sunday Times / 30 September

FAMILY planning advocates in the Philippines said Saturday they are readying a legal suit against a member of President Gloria Arroyo’s cabinet for his opposition to artificial contraception.

The groups said they will sue Environment Secretary Lito Atienza for removing all contra­cep­tives from city clinics when he was mayor of Manila, the capital city.

The suit aims to “hold [Atienza] liable for acts which caused injury to wo­men,” said Elizabeth Panga­langan, executive director of the Reproductive Health, Rights and Ethics Centre, a social research and study group attached to the University of the Philippines.

Her group and other organizations presented testimony on how Atienza, three-time mayor of Manila and a devout Catholic, introduced a policy in 2000 banning city government clinics from issuing contraceptives or informing people how to use or obtain them.

Pangalangan said the groups were looking at either administrative charges or a civil suit, but said the details would be revealed later.

Atienza finished his third term as Manila mayor on June 30, but was later appointed Environment Secretary by Arroyo, also a devout Catholic.

The Catholic Church, do­minant in the Philippines, frowns on artificial birth control.

Pangalangan said they had wanted to file a suit for years, but had difficulty finding women to testify against Atienza due to fear of his position.

Pro-life groups bat for Atienza on birth control issue

Monday, October 1, 2007 / Philippine Star

Pro-life Philippines founder and chairwoman Sister Pilar Versoza expressed her support for former Manila mayor Lito Atienza after family planning advocates threatened to sue him for banning artificial contraception in the city.

“Pro-life Philippines, like the Church, is not against family planning. However we advocate the natural way of planning which are already scientifically proven to be accurate and safe,” Versoza said, adding that Atienza, a devout Catholic “shares the same view.”

Family planning advocates said Saturday that they are planning to file a tort case against Atienza to hold him liable for an executive order he issued that allegedly “caused injury to women.”

The order reportedly deprived many Manila women the chance to avail of artificial family planning methods. The family planning advocates said Atienza’s order violates the Philippine government’s obligations under national and international law, as well as rights of Manila residents – particularly the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their personal religious convictions.

Lawyer Jo Imbong, executive secretary for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines legal office, said Atienza’s constituents “should actually be thankful to (him) for teaching them authentic health program.”

In a statement, the pro-life groups cited studies showing that although artificial contraceptives are legal, they may also cause adverse effects in women.

“In some cases, birth control pills were proven to be a contributing factor in breast cancer, especially if used for a prolonged period. Progestin, the second artificial hormone in birth control pills, can have serious cardiovascular effects,” they said.

The pro-life groups added that intrauterine devices are suspected to cause ovarian cysts and vaginal infections.

“Lito Atienza was being a man of God when he prevented access to contraceptives in Manila. In my opinion, (he) is just protecting the health of the women and is doing a preventive act in the commitment of other criminal acts like concubinage and adultery,” former Bulacan congressman Willie Villarama said.

Villarama is a member of the board of trustees for the Buhay party-list group.

Atienza, after serving for nine years as Manila mayor, stepped down earlier this year. He was appointed environment and natural resources secretary by President Arroyo last August.

The pro-life groups noted that Atienza formed and personally runs an orphanage called “Home for the Angels,” which became a temporary home for over 200 unwanted babies.


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