Support for the reproductive health bill among non-Catholic Christian groups snowballed with the open backing of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) for the controversial measure.

The influential sect, which has about six million members and is known to vote as a bloc, said it is “ready to support the bill on reproductive health as long as there are no immoral elements in them.”

But the homegrown religious group said that it is supporting only the artificial methods of contraception, not the natural family planning methods, which it called “unnatural and ineffective.”

“Since modern methods of contraception, by preventing married couples from having any unplanned pregnancies, assist in supporting the Christian principle, we support their use as long as these methods are empirically not abortifacient,” according to the letter of Eduardo Manalo, INC executive minister to the committee on population and family relations.

But Manalo added that his group “do not support the natural family planning method and all its variants.”

“These so-called birth control methods depend upon abstinence on the part of the married couple when the woman is fertile but allows marital relations only when she is not. These methods are not only unnatural and ineffective but they are also immoral, since they contradict the commandments that God has given to married couples,” INC explained.

It continued that “the Bible instructs married couples not to deprive one another of intimate marital relations for long, extended periods of time; further, any abstinence at all for a married couple is supposed to be with mutual consent of husband and wife and not for purpose of preventing pregnancy.”
Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan, said the INC is not the only Christian grop supporting the reproductive health bill.

The National Council of Churches of the Philippines, the largest alliance of Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines, the Philippine Independent Church, and the Catholics for RH have earlier said they want the bill passed as this will give couples the choice to plan their families and ensure the health of mothers and children.

“The institutional Roman Catholic church (the bishops), are now isolated. The priests are noticeably quiet, they are more grounded...They happen to understand more the situation of poor families,” Ilagan said.

The Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches has also voiced support for the RH bill.

Akbayan party-list Representative Kaka Bagao said the INC support shows to the public “that the RH debate is not about morality.”

House Bill 4244 or the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development bill is still to be debated at the House of Representatives.

Among the provisions of the bill are: freedom of informed choice; absence of demographic or population target; poverty reduction; voluntary family planning based on freedom of informed choice; promotion of all kinds of family planning methods that are legal, medically safe, effective, and accessible; and prohibition of abortion. 

Debates on the bill will continue in plenary when session resumes on May 9.

You can download a copy of the said statement HERE.