Ramos Backs Family Planning Despite Church Pressure
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Ignoring strong pressure by the dominant Roman Catholic Church, President Fidel Ramos said Friday his country’s family planning program should be widened.
``The challenge before us now is to make this program even more intensive,″ Ramos said as he opened a conference of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. ``There is no time to waste. The hour is late. This program was needed yesterday.″
Representatives of family planning organizations from 140 countries planned to discuss sexual and reproductive health, unwanted pregnancies, family planning and women’s empowerment during the four-day meeting.
The Catholic church opposes the government’s family planning program because it allows the use of contraceptives.
Ramos said the Philippines’ population of 68 million, one of the largest in Southeast Asia, could double in 30 years if it continues to grow at the present rate.
He stressed, however, that his family planning program does not promote abortion, which is illegal in the Philippines.
Planned Parenthood President Fred Sai disagreed with that policy, saying it is unjust to withhold any medically approved method of family planning.
The group’s secretary general, Ingar Brueggemann, told delgates that sex education will not make young people promiscuous, as some clergy claim. Instead, he said, it will help them delay the start of sexual activity and increase their sense of responsibility.