These foreign governments and groups aim to promote a flawed and individualistic understanding of human rights, and to access strategic resources in poor countries…
Late last year, the Ang Kapatiran Party, a grassroots Philippine group espousing pro-life principles and social justice within a Christian Democratic framework (see this article), drafted a statement on the spate of proposed reproductive “rights” legislation in the Philippines. It was written by J.C. De Los Reyes, a Councilor in Olongapo City, which was the first Philippine local government unit to enact a reproductive “rights” ordinance. I don’t know if it was ever finalized as the Party’s official statement; but, anyway, the text of Kapatiran’s draft statement (with minor corrections for grammar) follows, and after it, our short commentary from a legal perspective.
Dec. 2, 2007
In response to the barrage of legislation in [the Philippine] Congress and in local legislative bodies that are antagonistic not only to human life in the womb, but also to marriage and family life, I summarize this advocacy by enunciating the following statements:
1. The proponents of the Philippine Population Program, from the late ’60s to the present, are now more aggressive and vocal than ever because of the reluctance of the Filipino People to embrace methods and means to control birth antagonistic to their faith and morals. These [anti-life] programs have been proposed at the initiative of foreign governments, development and funding agencies and interest groups officiously influencing every agency and office of government, especially local governments, mainly through soft loans, grants and aid packages to carry out such depopulation policies.
2. The aim of these foreign governments and interest groups is to promote a flawed and individualistic understanding of human rights, and to access strategic resources in poor countries to benefit them economically and even militarily (Declassified U.S. National Security Memorandum 200 of Henry Kissinger).
3. Issues of national sovereignty and security, as well as of the physical health and integrity of Filipinos, have been raised in the face of intrusive interventions into the most intimate and vital aspects of national life– reproductive functions, conjugal and family life, and even the education of our youth. The term used in the field is “TOTAL INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT APPROACH.” The terminology used–such as reproductive health, reproductive rights, Gender Awareness, Family Planning, Birth Control, Planned Parenthood, etc.–are euphemisms cloaking coercive programs to manipulate behavior by limiting our choices and desensitizing our values. They seek to dramatically increase the prevalence of contraceptive use to achieve an anti-life mindset that would gradually introduce abortion as another form of contraception.
4. Ideologies underlying these policies are violative of Filipino culture and the Philippine Constitution. Moreover, they are incompatible with our Judeo-Christian and Islamic values, as well as the social teachings of the Church. Our distinctly pro-life Charter of 1987 has been marginalized, and birth control proponents invoke [alleged] International Law, particularly the 1994 Cairo Conference and 1995 Beijing Conference, to further skirt clear constitutional precepts that ensure the autonomy and inviolability of marriage and family life.
5. Various forms of propaganda and psychological persuasion are employed to accept the debunked myth of overpopulation. This is made into a scapegoat to accommodate international demands [original text: international economic concessions and demands] as well as to excuse [the Philippine] government’s inability to advance social justice by prioritizing the fight against graft and corruption–the real cause of massive poverty.
6. This anti-natalist agenda is promoted in the guise of many noble advocacies–the alleviation of poverty, protection of women and children, reproductive health–but the main objective is to prevent and/or terminate births through biological and chemical means that are clearly opposed to morality and therefore the laws of man and God.
I conclude by exhorting the pro-life movement of the Philippines to continue its vigilance against this unnecessary, immoral and economically baseless [original text: uneconomical] population control program. God bless the Philippines.
Councilor JC de los Reyes, Olongapo City
I’d only like to add that there is no basis to say that reproductive “rights” exist in international law, which can only come from 3 “formal” sources–treaty, custom, and general principles of law–, with court decisions and the works of publicists as “material” sources that evidence the existence of a binding international norm. There is no treaty for reproductive “rights”, which is why their proponents keep invoking the Conferences; and they are not general principles of law, which, in any case, are almost always secondary norms or norms of procedure derived from domestic legal systems (as in the Texaco arbitration) and not primary substantive rights. Likewise, there is no evidence that custom–that is, substantially universal state practice and opinion–exists in favor of the idea that reproductive “rights” are law. Ergo, reproductive rights do not exist in international law.
In themselves, the Cairo and Beijing Conferences have no materiality in the formation of international norms except as evidence of custom, for which they need further proof of state practice and what jurists call opinio juris, the subjective belief that a binding norm exists. No treaty was negotiated or signed at the Conferences, and all they came up with were non-binding declarations. At worst (or at best, from the anti-natalist perspective), they are evidence of what international law experts call lex ferenda, which means norms that are still in the process of creation and are not yet binding law. Hence, the attempt of anti-natalists to use the Conferences as proof of international reproductive “rights” is simply false propaganda.
P.S., I’d like to encourage everyone to help Kapatiran in its multiple advocacies–for political reform (BTW, it’s the only well-known Philippine party to call for President Arroyo’s resignation), social justice, protection of the environment, and human life and values. Your prayers and support, spiritual and material, would no doubt help them in their often uphill struggles.