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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

April-23-08

High Birthrates Linked to Poverty in the Philippines

High birthrates help keep Filipino families in poverty, the Washington Post reports. The government of the Philippines only supports so-called “natural family planning” methods, rejecting more modern methods of birth control because of the country’s strong ties to the Catholic Church. The Washington Post reports that the national government prohibits the use of federal funds to buy contraceptives. Because of the Philippines government hostility to birth control, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is ending its contraception donation program this year.

USAID will be phasing out its condom distribution program, but, according to Craig Lasher of the Population Action International, "the responsibility for the poor state of family planning programs in the Philippines falls squarely on the Arroyo administration's opposition to modern contraception, supported strongly by the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines." President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagel Arroyo is a devout Catholic and her administration’s policies closely follow that of the Catholic church when it comes to issues of birth control.

In a speech last year, Suneeta Mukherjee, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) representative for the Philippines, said, “In this context, socio-economic development in the Philippines would be virtually impossible unless the country’s rapid population growth is squarely addressed. Four babies are born every minute, 5,000 a day, or almost two million a year. Ten women die every 24 hours from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth – almost entirely preventable causes. Nearly half [1.43 million a year] of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended. One third of these unintended pregnancies – about 473,000 – end in abortions, again entirely avoidable if these women had access to reproductive health and family planning information and services."

Media Resources: Washington Post 04/21/08; Daily Women’s Health Policy Report 04/22/08; Feminist Newswire 08/16/07; UNFPA Speeches and Statements 04/17/07; Craig Lasher of Population Action International


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