Position Paper: Family Planning & Birth Control

Synopsis

This position paper is written in response to the Reproductive Health Bill 2008 also known us the House Bill 5043/96 being introduced in the Philippines, seeking to regulate population growth through family planning and birth control. It is one of the six versions of the bill and the most controversial one.

Purpose of the Bill

The underlying purpose of the bill is to deal with the burgeoning population and poverty in the Philippines. The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world with a population approaching 100 million[1]. It is ranked 97th in the United Nations Human Development Report of 2010. Poverty remains to be the biggest obstacle to the developmental growth of the Philippine society due to unabated population increase

To address the situation, the bill[2] “upholds and promotes responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards” as it “anchored on the rationale that sustainable human development is better assured with a manageable population of healthy, educated and productive citizens.”

Salient features of the Bill

  • To promote reproductive health, with no bias for either modern or natural methods of family planning
  • To give reproductive health care services to ensure primarily birth and care of healthy children and to promote responsible parenting
  • To guarantee freedom of informed choice, which is central to the exercise of any right.
  • To afford free and full access to relevant, adequate and correct information on reproductive health and human sexuality guided by qualified State workers and professional private practitioners to all families regardless of personal convictions and beliefs.
  • To coordinate and integrate policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor, the needy and the marginalized.
  • To protect and fulfill reproductive health not only the rights and welfare of adult individuals and couples but those of adolescents’ and children.
  • Affirms that abortion remains a crime and is punishable by law, but ensures that women seeking care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner.

General Comments and Position

  • We concur with the need to curtail the burgeoning population and poverty of the Philippines, which we believe play a major part to the disintegration of morals, justice and decency of human lives. For such is not the will of God.
  • We endorse that every married couple must seriously take into account their accountability to God and society with regards to child bearing. We deem it great irresponsibility and disservice to the society, on the part of married couple to bear children without serious preparation and determination to provide proper moral guidance, education, and decent life to their offspring.
  • We acknowledge that sex is a gift of God to humanity for the purpose of pro creation of godly heritage and as an intimate expression of love, and the proper expression of its pleasure is between a man and woman bounded together within the covenant of marriage.
  • In view of the prerequisite attached to the mandate of procreation, that is to perpetuate a godly heritage, we deem it necessary and permissible for a married couple to plan the number of their children and avoid pregnancy if they are not equipped and capable to rear their children to godly ways, provide education and decent life.
  • We endorse the use natural method of birth control as the first choice to be considered, and with much caution the use of artificial method not classified as abortifacient[3] as choice of last resort.
  • We believe that abortion and any other means of natural and modern abortifacient contraceptives as a sin against the Creator of Life.

Related Comments and Position

On the Purpose of Marriage

God ordained marriage[4] for the following ends:

To Reflect the Image of God

Marriage exists first and foremost to glorify God. Human beings are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26), in marriage a man and a woman display His glory (vv. 27-28).  Marriage as a creation mandate glorifies God as creator and as the consummate reflection of the redeeming grace of God in Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). As Christians married couples live out this pattern of God’s love through His grace in Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2), they witness to one another, their children, the church and the world the gospel of God’s redeeming love in Christ.

Companionship and Partnership

Genesis 2:18a teaches, “It is not good for a man to be alone.”  Therefore, from the beginning God called men and women to promote mutual care and friendship within their marriage relationship.

Genesis 2:18b adds, “I will make a helper suitable for him,” remonstrate that a man and a woman are to be a help to one another in the marriage relationship.  Also, each husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25).

Multiplication of a Godly Heritage

Genesis 1:28 and Ephesians 6:4 teach that the marriage relationship is for procreation and moral nurturing and training of children (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) for the perpetuation of a heritage that glorifies God.

To be Stewards of God’s Gifts and Resources

God mandated mankind (families of the earth) to “work and take care” of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15), the habitation and place of fellowship between man and God.  This implies that married couples must cultivate and manage the gifts and resources that God blesses them, in order to bring dignity, order and development to their family unit and society.

When marriage, the foundational human relationship, is degraded because of irresponsible acts and negligence, the family unit disintegrates and the fabric of any nation untied (cf. Genesis 2).

Proper Expression of Human Sexuality

Hebrews 13:4 clearly declare that sexual intimacy should be reserved for a man and a woman within the covenant of marriage. Sexual pleasure is a gift of God to married couples bound by love for each other (Songs of Solomon) and are encourage to enjoy such intimacy (Ecclesiastes 9:9) not depriving one another (1 Corinthians 1:1-7). To draw on the intimate union between husband and wife as an imagery of the union of the church to Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32) Paul implies the sacredness and beauty of marriage intimacy.

On Birth Control

We consider the natural method (rhythm) and abstinence as the primary choice of birth control for married couple.

We consider as permissible the use of artificial birth control not categorize as abortifacients, but with caution considering the proven possible side effects and health consideration.

We are against the use of any form or method of birth control, natural and artificial for whatever reason, intending to prevent and terminate the development of a prenatal life.

On the Issue of Abortion

We consider any method of abortion or termination of prenatal life through abortifacients and other methods of birth control, natural and artificial as immoral and violation of the will of God;

Dignity and Value of Life

We fully believe and declare that God as evidence in the Scripture strongly affirms the dignity and value of every human life which begins from the very first day of conception in a mother’s womb.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“My frame was hidden from Thee when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:15)

“Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother He named me.” (Isaiah 49:1)

Scripture teaches that we are not merely to avoid involvement in injustice but as God’s people are called upon to speak for the oppressed and defenseless. The Scripture passages cited above are evidence that God accords human value and dignity to the unborn child. We affirm that the Bible does not distinguish between prenatal and postnatal life. It attributes human personhood to the unborn child.

Responsibility Towards Life

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1674), a confessional statement shared by most Evangelical and Traditional churches, forbids the taking of life and requires the preservation of life:

“The Sixth Commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.” (Question 68)

“The Sixth Commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.” (Question 69)

Moral Responsibility of Choices

The Bible teaches that all persons and nations are responsible before God for their ethical decisions, including those, which relate to the preservation of human life.

I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” ”  (Isaiah 65:12)

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

“Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD.” (Proverbs 1:29)

“Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways,” (Proverbs 3:31)

“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,” (Proverbs 8:10)

On Attitude Towards Unwanted Pregnancy

The church is recommended to provide support and compassion to women with problem of unwanted pregnancy:

  1. Women facing unwanted pregnancies should receive support, love, acceptance and counsel from pastors, counselors, and the community. The Church must provide compassionate biblical and spiritual guidance to these persons.
  2. The Church must support and nurture women who decide to carry an unwanted pregnancy to full term.
  3. The Church must seek ways to support and care for all children born from unwanted pregnancies just as it care for other children.
  4. The Church must serve as a healing community to those who have experienced physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds from abortion or giving up a child for adoption.
  5. The Church should oppose abortion and do everything in its power to provide supportive communities and alternatives to abortion.
  6. The Church should declare publicly and teach its members that abortion must never be used as a convenience or a means of birth control.

Prepared by: Rev. Rene Nepomuceno in behalf of WIN IEB

Date: 01 February 2011


[1] UN Statistics Division; U.S. Census Bureau International Data Bas

 

[2] House Bill 5043, Section 2, Declaration of Policy.

[3] Contraceptives and birth control methods that prevent the implantation and development of the fertilized egg into the uterus (i.e. mini pill, injection of estrogens and progesterone, and morning after pill.

[4] The Westminster Confession of Faith, teaches that [6.134] Marriage is designed for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the safeguarding, undergirding, and development of their moral and spiritual character; for the propagation of children and the rearing of them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord