Using contraceptives is not attempted murder, Fr. Bernas says

By Jojo Malig,

Posted at Jun 02 2011 11:34 PM | Updated as of Jun 03 2011 08:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A Catholic priest has laughed off the claim made by those opposing the reproductive health (RH) bill that using contraceptives is attempted murder.

In a blog post, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, JSD, said he found the claim "hilarious."

"Whoever said that deserves a medal for I know not what," said Bernas, who is an amicus curiae of the Supreme Court and was among those who helped draft the present Constitution.

Manila 5th District Rep. Amado Bagatsing said last month during the lower House interpellations on the proposed RH bill that using contraceptives to prevent pregnancies is abortion.

"Ang contraceptives ay humaharang... humaharang para huwag magbuntis, huwag magkita ang egg at ang ovum (sic)," said Bagatsing, who is against the RH bill. "Iniistop mo ang pagkikita. Pagka hinadlangan mo, sa Ingles, ina-abort mo,"

Bernas said the one of the concerns on the RH bill  is a constitutional issue that revolves around the right to life. "It involves trying to identify when life begins and when there is contraception and when abortion," he said.

In his blog post, the Jesuit priest rejected generalizing all contraceptives as abortifacients.

"There are claims, for instance, that there are contraceptive drugs in the market that cause abortion or are carcinogenic. What I would like to see is an authoritative identification of the drugs that are said to be abortifacient or carcinogenic so that they can be withdrawn from the market or their use subjected to medical regulation," Bernas said.

"So far I have seen only one drug identified as abortifacient, namely Postinor. This was withdrawn from the market by the Food and Drug and Administration. But the identification of drugs claimed to be abortifacient or carcinogenic should be authoritative in a manner that is fair to drug manufacturers and to those who rely on them for legitimate medical purposes," he stressed.

"The charge is made that the RH bill will destroy the Filipino family. On the basis of more than 25 years of pastoral and social work in Payatas, and some seven years sponsoring natural family planning programs, I can say that the family is already at great risk—and not because of contraceptives," said Bernas, quoting a sociologist.