Dear SRHR Advocates,
Please find attached sign-on statement that Likhaan initiated. We hope that you can extend your support by signing on the statement and pass it on to your networks.
We fully support the brave move of 20 women and men of Manila to ask the judiciary to declare null and void Executive Order No. 003—a policy banning “artificial contraceptives” in all of Manila’s public health facilities—engineered in February 2000 by then-mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza, Jr.
The EO is a sanctimonious and discriminatory policy based solely on Mr. Atienza’s religious beliefs.
Mr. Atienza proudly proclaims his religious prejudice and let it dictate his policies while he was mayor. For this zealotry in public office, he was bestowed a “Pro-Life Achievement Award” from Human Life International (HLI) in Virginia, USA during the latter’s 35th anniversary in July 2007. According to the CBCP Monitor of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, “Atienza was cited by HLI for his achievement in influencing the city employees to implement pro-life programs. As mayor, he enforced an Executive Order banning all the City Hospitals and Health centers in Manila from distributing contraceptives and abortifacients and performing sterilizations.”
Countless poor women and families of Manila paid and continue to pay dearly for Mr. Atienza’s award-winning policy.
The investigative report “Imposing Misery: The Impact of Manila’s Contraception Ban on Women and Families” documented women and families in physical, mental, economic and social crises due to the total suppression of contraceptive supplies, services and information. Released last year, it told of women warned that future pregnancies would endanger their lives yet provided with nothing to prevent pregnancies; women who had to beg from neighbors to support more children than planned; couples who fought and split up over sex and the risk of pregnancy; and women who had to choose between buying food for their children or protection for themselves.
Such arbitrarily-imposed suffering and misery cannot be allowed to continue. Public policy must never be built on religious bias and bigotry.
We do respect the right of public officials to live their personal lives according to their religious or moral beliefs. But we expect them to extend the same respect to their constituents. Ordinary people deciding to limit or space their children through modern contraceptives have as much claim to moral correctness as the city mayor.
We appeal to the judiciary to bring reason and sanity back to Manila on the issue of contraception. ■