An anti-reproductive health bill rally in Cebu City (Photo: Don Bosco Pasil)
Catholics backing a controversial birth control bill today criticized ongoing talks between Cebu’s archbishop and senior local politicians, saying they should meet those who would gain from the proposed law – women and children. Members of the Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH) said Archbishop Palma of Cebu’s talks with political leaders would be commendable as long as there is no "coercion." But they said it would be better if the spoke with people who would benefit from the reproductive health (RH) bill
. "The talks to convince legislators not to vote for the bill smacked of coercion since the bishop is apparently talking from a position of influence and power," said Dr. Mark Molina. Leny Ocasiones of the Gabriela Women’s Party said discussions should focus on health issues concerning women, children and mothers "who have to share beds in government hospitals." Pro-life activists, however, said the prelate is just expressing his gratitude to law makers for their support for the Church in its family life program and opposition to the RH bill. "The archbishop wants to say ‘thank you’ for their pro-life stand," said Dr. Rene Bullecer, Human Life International country director. "The archbishop would like to ask them how the Church can be more effective in fighting the anti-life bills both at national and local level," he added. The Catholic Church is fiercely opposed to the reproductive health bill because it says it contains provisions, such as allowing the use of contraceptives, which are contrary to Catholic teachings. Archbishop Palma, vice-president of the Catholic bishops’ conference, recently refused to meet C4RH members, saying the group is not recognized by the Catholic Church.