"We will not rest." Filipino women want a fertility management program that respects women's dignity, women's bodies and women's choices.
The program officer for the Institute for Social Studies and Action presents 1) her views on women's fertility management under different political administrations in the Philippines, 2) the political postures of influential groups, 3) the goals of women's and health groups, and 4) the actions taken by Filipino women. Under Ferdinand Marcos, the official family planning (FP) program emphasized reduction of population growth and established a quota system and incentives for the number of new acceptors. Women, as a result, became victims; e.g. IUDs were inserted without prior knowledge, and inadequate information and follow-up were provided on oral contraceptive use. Efforts were criticized for treating women as program targets and not as individuals capable of making choices. Under Corazon Aquino, the Roman Catholic hierarchy dominated and would have banned all forms of artificial contraception had women's and health groups not blocked the effort. Only in 1989 did President Aquino finally announce that multiple methods of family planning (FP) would be promoted. There was a transition in program services during the transfer to the Department of Health. Currently the government promotes FP within the safe motherhood and child survival context, but adolescents and unmarried women and couples are excluded from FP services. Population control advocates believe FP is a health issue. The Roman Catholic Church accepts only natural methods and believes artificial methods interfere with the natural processes of procreation. Anti-FP groups promote only natural FP methods and wage campaigns to discredit contraceptive methods. Women's and FP groups contend that it is a woman's right to regulate her own fertility. Safe abortion should be made available to those who need it. Women's networks are mobilizing to talk about the issues, to hold public activities to change laws and policies and to encourage women's involvement in decision making affecting their lives, and to conduct research specific to women's views. Women's organizations will be active until safe, affordable, accessible, and appropriate fertility management is available to all women.
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