Huffington Post: In a legislative battle that has stretched on for nearly 15 years, the Philippines legislature has once again failed to move on a reproductive health bill that would ensure universal access to contraceptives and sexuality education in schools. Public support for the bill is solid, with nearly 70 percent of the predominantly Catholic population in favor of the measure. But that hasn’t stopped the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) from throwing its full weight against it, even going so far as to threaten lawmakers who support the bill with a Church-sponsored opposition campaign against them in their 2013 elections.
Given the bill’s measures to increase access to modern contraception, this harsh backlash from the country’s Catholic hierarchy comes as no surprise. What does make this particular battle interesting is the messaging employed by one Catholic Bishop in his attempt to sway public opinion — and how completely disconnected it is from the realities the people of the Philippines face each day.
Like most of the developing world, the Philippines is an increasingly youthful country, with children and adolescents making up about 35 percent of the total population. Perhaps that is why in his public admonition of the reproductive health bill Archbishop Socrates Villegas chose specifically to appeal to the “beloved youth” of the Philippines.