Philippines Congress Suspends Vote on Pro-Abortion Bill Catholics Oppose

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 16, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Philippines Congress Suspends Vote on Pro-Abortion Bill Catholics Oppose

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 16
, 2008

Manilla, Philippines ( — The Congress in the Philippines has suspended a second reading vote on a bill proposed to spend tax money on birth control that the Catholic Church has strongly opposed. Catholic officials have called the bill pro-abortion and said in July that they would not give communion to anyone voting for it.

Pampanga archbishop Paciano Aniceto previously blasted the measure as forcing taxpayers to fund birth control. He and other leaders also said the bill is a precursor to attempts to legalize abortion.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday deferred the second reading of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.

The House adjourned its plenary session instead of hearing a speech by the bill’s main author, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Quezon City Rep. Mary Ann Susano called a point of order saying that no quorum was present for debate to continue and a roll call vote revealed just 101 out of 238 congressmen were present.

GMA News also indicated Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia protested the discussion of the bill saying copies of the legislation had not been distributed to members beforehand.

"How can members intelligently and actively participate in the discussion of this very important bill?" asked Garcia.

But backers of the measure — House Bill 5043, or "An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development" — say everyone received a copy of the measure earlier this month.

GMA News indicated Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said President Arroyo has indicated support for natural family planning but won’t interfere with the Congressional vote on the bill.

"We would rather leave the determination of that policy to Congress," Dureza said. "On a very important issue like reproductive health, we feel that an interplay of legislative work should be allowed for Congress to make its full bloom."

The Philippines has been under constant pressure from abortion advocates and the United Nations to legalize abortion and both have claimed that women are dying from the illegal abortions that occur there.

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