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Family planning at no cost

/ 05:10 AM December 02, 2017

My attention was once drawn when I ate in a popular restaurant that offers free lunch for birthday celebrators. The small band singing the birthday song kept on doing so from table to table to table … The typical Filipino seems to have this attitude: If you can get something for free, go for it.

That’s why when I saw the budget that the Department of Health (DOH) is asking to purchase contraceptives, I thought that these people might not be typical Filipinos.

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The rationale behind giving poor Filipino women free contraceptives is for “family planning purposes.” The idea behind family planning is to have the number of children you want and contraceptives are supposed to help you do that.

But why ask for P4.3 billion for family planning purposes when you can plan for free through natural family planning (NFP)? Between zero and P4.3 billion there is just an enormous difference!

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Some people think we help the poor people alleviate their poverty by giving them contraceptives for free. Just think of a poor family with three or four children. Here comes a health worker giving the mother pills. Just how will that solve their poverty? Besides, one pack of pills is good for only a month. If you want to help her space her children for the next perhaps 20 years until her menopause, then be prepared to give her pills for that length of time.

But if we educate the couple about NFP, the cost is zero: No pills needed. And it will help the couple bond and strengthen their marriage. All this is free of cost.

Ah no, some will say, NFP has a high failure rate and we want a greater rate of success. Contraceptives have a higher success rate, so they claim.

Those who advocate contraceptive use tend to think that men and women are much like animals. They cannot control themselves and they will just give in to their urges. And so you will need chemicals to remedy the unwanted effects of succumbing to their instincts. With this outlook, people believe that men and women are not free, they are slaves to their passions. It would seem to me then that by giving couples contraceptives, the DOH is fostering this kind of slavery.

Those who believe in NFP have the contrasting mindset that men and women are human beings who, though they may have urges and weaknesses, are still capable of self-control and virtue. With this perspective, people believe that men and women are free and have a choice. They can choose to abstain or plan for the next child. Supporters of contraceptive use condescendingly accuse couples who shun contraceptives that they multiply like rabbits. But who act more like rabbits?

Let’s be wise Filipinos. Why spend billions for contraceptives? What can we do with P4.3 billion? The Department of Education has said that a six-classroom schoolbuilding costs P4 million. With P4.3 billion you can build a thousand of those much-needed schoolbuildings. Those classrooms will help alleviate poverty much more than contraceptives.

FR. CECILIO L. MAGSINO, [email protected]

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