Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lawmakers welcome Pope's stand on condom use vs AIDS fight


Both the oppositors and the advocates of the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill in the House of Representatives welcomed the statement of Pope Benedict XVI that condoms could be used to stop the spread of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), in certain cases.

In a text message to GMANews.TV, Paranaque Rep. Roilo Golez said the move of the Pope is to protect life and not to prevent it.

“It is only for male prostitutes with AIDS. Not like the pro-RH condoms which are meant to prevent life. The RH people cannot use this to promote condoms. The RH objective in promoting condom is primarily to prevent life, and secondarily to prevent infection," he said.

Golez is the author of House Bill 13 of the proposed Act Providing for the Safety and Protection of the Unborn Child which states that the unborn child, from the moment of conception onwards, should be protected.

Golez's bill said unborn children should be protected from all outside intervention that could be medically considered as abortive during the natural process of growth of the fertilized ovum. These include chemicals, surgical procedures, or abdominal massage.

The Church frowns on the use of condom as a family planning method because it interferes in the process of conception.

Pope: Condoms not a moral solution to AIDS

An Associated Press (AP) article on Sunday quoted the Pope as saying that condoms are not a moral solution to stopping AIDS but in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, their use could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."

The Pope, however, also reiterated the Church's position that abstinence and marital fidelity are the only sure ways of preventing the spread of HIV.

The Pope made the statement in response to a German journalist's general question about Africa, where heterosexual HIV spread is rampant.

The Pope's comment will be published in a book entitled "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," which will be released on Tuesday.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published excerpts of the interview on Saturday.

Tool for responsible choice

Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez said the Pope’s remark about condoms to lower the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS is going to be welcomed by Catholics around the world.

“This is our way of contribution to humanity in our quest to protect and preserve life from this killer infection," he said in a text message.

"The (condom's) offer of protection is not absolute and must not be abused or mistaken as a ticket to promiscuity or for other ends, but rather its use can be a tool to be more responsible to the choices one makes," he added.

He added that as a Catholic doctor and public health practitioner, it would now be more conscionable to prescribe or teach to patients about the use of condoms to prevent or reduce risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS as a step towards a responsible use of human sexuality.

Repercussions on RH debates

Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy was happy that the Church is now open-minded and adjusting to what is necessary to the present time.

Golez and Herrera-Dy are co-authors of the HB 19.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara was surprised with the Pope’s statement as it is a change in the previous hard line policy of the Catholic Church.

“It will have repercussions on the current debates in Congress on reproductive health and responsible parenthood," he said.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, for her part, said that although the reason given by the Pope leaves much to be desired “still it is a move towards a freer and more liberal outlook."

“The Pope’s declaration is an opening of the dark tunnel which can enlighten the Catholics and non-Catholics and lead the flock towards the light of understanding and acceptance of the realities of the times," she said.

She expressed hope that it will encourage people to weigh the advantages of a State policy and comprehensive RH bill.

“If the Pope is widening the tunnel leading to truth wider, then we should not be more popish than the pope. Then all can benefit from the light of change," she added.

Ilagan is one of the authors of the six RH bills pending in the House of Representatives.

Problem of sexually-transmitted diseases

Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV expressed hope the Pope recognizes the problem of sexually transmitted diseases and overpopulation.

“We should pass the RH bill," he said.

CIBAC Rep. Sherwin Tugna sees the statement as a positive development as while it is only categorical, this goes to show that the leadership of the Catholic Church are closely studying and deliberating on the use of condoms as well as other forms of contraceptives.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone believed that the Catholic Church is now beginning to realize that the issue is not confined to population alone but also the health of the people.

“I hope our local Catholic Church will take notice of that radical statement of the pope to rethink their position on the issues of health and population," he said.

DIWA Rep. Emmeline Aglipay said she was quite surprised by the Pope’s statement but sees it as a very welcome sign of a more progressive Catholic Church.

“Responsible sexuality is an issue which a responsible Church should tackle head on. The Church’s role in social change and in taking part in solutions to prevalent social ills, such as the spread of HIV cannot be overemphasized," she said.

A question of exceptions

According to the AP article, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, the Vatican's longtime top official on bioethics and sexuality, said the Pope's stand pertains only to cases where condom use "is the only way to save a life."

Quoting Sgreccia on the Italian news agency ANSA, the AP report said the Pope's stand on the condom issue was "in the realm of the exceptional."

"If Benedict XVI raised the question of exceptions, this exception must be accepted ... and it must be verified that this is the only way to save life. This must be demonstrated," Sgreccia said.

In the same AP report, Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said the Pope was clearly not encouraging condom use.

"I think the pope has been very strong in saying condoms do not solve the problem of morality and do not solve the problem of good sex education. But if a person chooses not to follow the teaching of Christ in the church, they are at least obliged to prevent another person from contracting a disease that is deadly," he said.


AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The disease affects the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to infections and tumors.

The virus is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with an HIV-infected body fluid — blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk.

The virus can be transmitted through:
anal, vaginal or oral sex with HIV-infected persons);
blood transfusion (if the blood is positive for HIV);
the use of HIV-contaminated hypodermic needles;
exchange between an HIV-infected mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding;

or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

AIDS is considered a pandemic or an epidemic affecting a large part of the population.

According to UNAIDS 2009 report, some 60 million people worldwide have been infected by the disease; some 25 million have died, and around 14 million children were orphaned in southern Africa alone since the epidemic began. – VVP
, GMANews.TV

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