An anti-birth-control dystopia

A new lawsuit argues that Manila's ban on contraception has had a devastating effect on poor women.

Topics: Broadsheet, Birth Control, Love and Sex,

Ever wondered what might happen if anti-contraception cranks got hold of a government and began issuing decrees? No need to imagine some dystopian future in Tennessee — simply visit modern-day Manila, Philippines. In 2000, ultraconservative Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza issued an executive order banning contraception from public clinics. Since then, according to a lawsuit filed this week by 20 women from slum communities, the city’s women have been suffering from the lack of available contraception.

Now, in the Maslow hierarchy of needs, I would hardly place free condoms at the base of the pyramid in terms of basic sustenance. But after reading materials from the lawsuit, I’m once again convinced just how little I know.

Although affluent women in Manila have continued to be able to get contraception from private clinics, the executive order has had a particularly devastating impact on the 70 percent of women from Manila who live below the poverty line. While ostensibly issued to “uphold natural family planning,” the main effect of the law has been to prohibit healthcare workers from promoting or distributing contraceptives. Public clinics suddenly being unable to pass out the free contraception received from programs like USAID has had a devastating effect on many women’s lives.

You Might Also Like

How devastating? Consider the testimony of the plaintiffs, quoted in a Reuters story today and elaborated on in the lawsuit press release. They describe either experiencing or witnessing: choosing between contraception and food for their children, multiple pregnancies after being told it would be dangerous for them to have more children, unwanted pregnancies forcing families into extreme poverty, abstinence leading to troubled marriages and divorces, backroom abortions, maternal deaths from multiple pregnancies, abortion deaths … you name it.

Gerry Cruz of the Philippine Family Planning Organization told Reuters his organization chose to support the women’s petition after seeing a study that maternal deaths due to multiple pregnancies in Manila were rising precipitously.

The contraception ban violates the Philippines’ Constitution and several international treaties the country has signed, so the case may have implications for the country as a whole. USAID is slated to end its birth control donation program in 2008, and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a devout Roman Catholic with an anti-contraceptive platform, has shown hesitance in rolling out government programs that might replace USAID’s donations, which have been the primary source of birth control for the past 30 years. With an intelligent hearing from the court, the women of Manila may get this atavistic ban lifted. In the meantime, their plight offers the rest of us a glimpse into the unfunny implications of the anti-birth-control bozos.

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>