10/07/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Filipino bishops urge president to block ‘pro-abortion’ bill

by Santosh Digal
Bishops’ Conference calls on her to veto Reproductive Health bill if it is approved by Congress. Bill proponents and opponents in legislature claim to be near quorum to get a vote. Church reiterates its view that “abortion is murder.”
Manila (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church has urged Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to veto the controversial Reproductive Health Bill if it is adopted by Congress. Bishop Patricio Alo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Health, said he was confident that President Arroyo would veto the bill if it ever became law.

Pro- and anti-Reproductive Health bill groups in the House of Representatives have claimed they are close to getting the required number to pass or defeat the controversial law.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the bill’s principal author, claimed the support of 108 congressmen, 12 votes shy of the 120 majority votes needed for the bill's approval on second reading.

Pro-Life caucus chairman and Parañaque City Representative Eduardo Zialcita claimed to have the support of 110 legislators.

“The people should not conclude that the debate over the reproductive health bill is a war of religion, as some members of the media have tried to portray,” said Jaro Archbishop and CBCP president Angel Lagdameo.

“This is not a war of religion because each (group) has their own position on the RH (Reproductive Health) bill. The Catholic Church's position is clear that (the bill) is against the teachings of the Church,” he said. The Catholic position is based on the principles laid down in Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae which Pope Benedict XVI reiterated a few days ago in a speech on the family and responsible procreation.

“We respect their position but they also have to respect the position of the Catholic Church about the destructive RH bill,” Archbishop Lagdameo added.

Two Christian churches—the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) and the Jesus-is-Lord Church—have endorsed the bill, along with some Protestant and Muslim leaders.

Filipino bishops said that the Church will take an “uncompromising position” against contraceptives and abortion. In their view anyone who supports the Reproductive Health bill promotes abortion, and thus favours murder.

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