Duterte Orders Better Access To Birth Control In Majority Catholic Philippines : The Two-Way : NPR

GR: Cultural, social, and religious practices that formed centuries earlier can become destructive. The Catholic Church needs an update that acknowledges the growing population problem.

Religious practice isn’t the only behavior that can become destructive. Read these sad stories to see how other cultural and social behaviors can lead to the same terrible end.

You can be certain that when human population growth causes conditions to sink to the low points described in these stories, starvation, disease, and death walk rampant among the innocent creatures whose lands we have taken. Struggling in the grip of self-destructive behavior, we unknowingly commits ecocide and adds another force pushing us toward our own doom.

Population and Poverty in Modern Philippines

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government agencies to expand access to contraception, especially for poor women. By 2018, he instructs, all poor households in the country should have “zero unmet need for modern family planning.”

“Duterte’s executive order, signed Monday and announced on Wednesday, is the latest development in a long battle over birth control in the majority-Catholic Philippines. It pits the president, who says family planning is critical for reducing poverty, against the country’s Supreme Court and Catholic leadership.

“Four years ago — after more than a decade of debate, negotiations and lobbying in Congress — the Philippines passed a law guaranteeing universal access to birth control. But the full implementation of that law has been blocked by court orders and budget cuts.

philippine-poverty

Poverty in modern Philippines.

“Birth control has long been available in the Philippines for middle class and wealthy women, but it is priced out of reach of the country’s poor. Abortion is illegal, with no express exceptions.

“More than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than 90 percent of unintended pregnancies occurred in the absence of modern contraceptive methods.

Though the rate of population growth is falling, the total population continues to rise and is projected to reach

Though the rate of population growth is falling, the total population continues to rise and is projected to reach 140 million by 2045.

“Polls show that most Filipinos support the Reproductive Health Law, which calls not just for access to contraception (subsidized or free, for poor couples), but also sexual health education and reproductive health care services.

“But it has been strongly opposed by the powerful Catholic Church. The law was immediately challenged as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court upheld some of the law, but imposed a restraining order limiting the contraceptive methods the government can distribute. Then Congress slashed the budget that was supposed to pay for free or low-cost contraception in many communities.” –Camila Domonoske (Continue reading this story:  Duterte Orders Better Access To Birth Control In Majority Catholic Philippines : The Two-Way : NPR.)


Joe Bish of the Population Media Center found the following story.

Cultural Norms Create Poverty and Despair in Nigeria.
“He was proud to be the father of an enormous family — until he couldn’t feed them”

“To enter Mohammed Umar’s mosquito-infested house, you step over a gutter brimming with sewage.

“At dusk two wives and 13 children are crammed in a small dark corridor with no ceiling. Charcoal smoke permeates the air and stings the eyes. The latest baby, Adam, 2 weeks old, moans restlessly; another child coughs incessantly and the call to prayer rings out from a nearby mosque.

“Umar is a humble bricklayer in a city with few jobs — but he has four wives, two homes he rents to accommodate them and 17 threadbare children. They spend their long days hungry, waiting for him to bring home a small pocket of money for food.

“Umar leaves his small cinder-block house in northwestern Nigeria’s Kano city at dawn and returns late at night, often with just a couple of dollars to feed his family. Then he starts over. He has borrowed for survival, is sinking in debt and, with no money for rent, faces likely eviction.

“Even when I get a job, the money’s not enough to support the family,” he says. “Every time I go to sleep, the thought of the debt comes into my mind, and I can’t get back to sleep.” When the children get sick, there is no money for medicine.

“A 2-month-old daughter, Hauwau, died in 2015 because he couldn’t pay a few coins to transport her to a hospital. Struggling to breathe, she slipped away one night.

Nigerian bricklayer Mohammed Umar can barely afford to provide for his four wives and 17 children. He rises each dawn to search for work and toils until late at night, but there is never enough food.

Nigerian bricklayer Mohammed Umar can barely afford to provide for his four wives and 17 children. He rises each dawn to search for work and toils until late at night, but there is never enough food. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

“I have her picture in my cellphone. I’ve been trying to overcome the grief,” says Umar.

“His life is an illustration of what can go wrong in regions where a lack of education intersects with gender inequality and high fertility rates. He is at the sharp end of northwestern Nigeria’s dire health and population statistics: extremely high illiteracy, especially for women and girls; huge families; high rates of infant mortality and heartbreaking rates of chronic or acute malnutrition in children.

“Umar’s inability to feed his wives and children adequately could taint them for the rest of their lives.

Mohammed Umar's first wife, Mainuna Shuaibu, left, who married the impoverished bricklayer when she was 14, and Maryam Adam, who became his second wife when she was 15, and two of their children at their home in Kano, Nigeria. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

Mohammed Umar’s first wife, Mainuna Shuaibu, left, who married the impoverished bricklayer when she was 14, and Maryam Adam, who became his second wife when she was 15, and two of their children at their home in Kano, Nigeria. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

“Nearly 80% of children in Kano are stunted, the result of persistent, ongoing malnutrition, which will affect their brain development, learning capacity and, ultimately, the jobs they will have, and leave them more likely to suffer poverty for decades to come. It’s the product of a hidden crisis of chronic malnutrition in northwestern Nigeria that receives less attention than the famine and acute malnutrition afflicting the northeastern part of the country.” –Robyn Dixon (Continue reading:  http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-global-big-families-poverty-2016-story.html.)

One thought on “Duterte Orders Better Access To Birth Control In Majority Catholic Philippines : The Two-Way : NPR

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