The Philippines currently faces several political, economical, and social problems. One of the more controversial and debatable issues in the country today is regarding the use of artificial contraceptives among married couples as a method of family planning. The question lies in whether it is morally correct for couples to use the said contraceptives to help control population growth and alleviate poverty. Contraception, according to Microsoft Encarta dictionaries is the “prevention of pregnancy using artificial methods such as condoms and birth-control pills or natural methods such as avoiding sex during the woman’s known fertile periods. It can also be defined as “a regimen of one or more actions, devices, sexual practices, or medications followed in order to deliberately prevent or reduce the likelihood of pregnancy or childbirth”. In 1914, Margaret Sanger, an American reformer, launched “The Woman Rebel” with the slogan “No Gods and No Masters”. It is an eight page monthly newsletter that promotes contraception. The development of birth control is being condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, saying that every sexual act must remain open to life. As a matter of fact, Saint Augustine condemned any attempt to avoid procreation in his “Marriage and Concupiscence”.
He claims that procreation was the rational aim of marriage. (Galvin, Rachel. Margaret Sanger’s “Deeds of Terrible Virtue” Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities, September/October 1998, Volume 19/Number 5) In our opinion, birth control using artificial contraception should be supported. Unlike others, we believe that it is not a form of murder or an act of killing. Rather, it is merely a way of avoiding unwanted pregnancy. This is especially true for couples who are unwilling and/or unable to support a child.
We feel that it is better to prevent unwanted pregnancy than have the child and the parents suffer the consequences later on. Moreover, our country is already suffering from overpopulation like many other countries like India and China. By making artificial contraception not only available but also openly supported by the government, couples are encouraged to plan for their families according to their means and at the same time, help in population control. “The world’s overpopulation is a growing and complex problem. But for the residents of Manila the result is quite simple.
They are running out of space. Families live in home-made shacks built in cemeteries, or between railroad tracks or under bridges. They live wherever they can find some space. Even the city’s toxic garbage dumps are home to people who eat, sleep and live surrounded by rotting trash. With so many residents, the city’s resources are strained to the limit. Large parts of Manila’s 11 million residents lack clean drinking water, work, and access to healthcare and education”. (Nissen, Mads. Overpopulation in Manila, the Philippines. Accessed October 3, 2010. http://www. madsnissen. om/page22/page18/page18. html). Overpopulation is in some way the reason for pollution in most areas of the country. Urban areas, where most people live, have the most garbage than any other area in the country. Overpopulation is also one of the reasons of poverty.
We can save our deteriorating natural resources by reducing population growth through the use of artificial contraception. A smaller population size would mean less garbage and a healthier environment. Population control is one way to save our natural resources so the next generation can experience cleaner and greener surroundings. Overpopulation is and should be everyone’s concern. It’s not something that we should blame only on the poor or the government or especially only on those who have seemingly taken God’s directive to “go forth and multiply” to heart”. This is a serious threat to our country. (Solving Overpopulation. Accessed October 3, 2010. http://www. philippinestoday. net/index. php? module=article&view=275) Poverty is one of the consequences of overpopulation. Overpopulation results from different problems and issues such as unplanned pregnancies.
Unwanted pregnancies may be prevented by using natural and/or artificial contraception. It is, in our judgment, definitely not an evil act. It can be a solution to our very serious problem. Some people may blame the government because they “lack” programs to address the problem of overpopulation and poverty. The truth is: as individuals, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and our family – the government is just there to support and help us. All of us are affected by this growing crisis. We believe that most of us want to alleviate overpopulation and poverty.
Several surveys have been conducted by trusted survey firms regarding the opinion of Filipinos on artificial contraception – as reported in news programs. The surveys were conducted before and after the Philippines national elections. The results from these surveys are almost similar. Most Filipinos would vote for a presidential candidate that would support family planning through the use of both natural and artificial methods. (Social Weather Stations (SWS). 2010) Recently, the Reproductive Health Bill, which supports both natural and artificial family planning methods, has caused arguments and debates.
The Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have been issuing statements that the Roman Catholic Church is strongly against the Reproductive Health Bill – they even “threatened” the country’s president because he was open to supporting the said bill. Some people’s beliefs coincide with that of the Roman Catholic Church; but most people, according to recent survey findings of the Social Weather Stations, believes that the Roman Catholic Church should not interfere with the concerns of the state.
Most people also agree that all methods of family planning, including artificial methods, should be supported and made available to everyone. We believe that the voice of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and other churches does not entirely represent its members. Most members of different religions are faithful but not-so-religious. These members encompass the 76% of Filipino respondents that would vote presidential candidates that support all methods of family planning. They can be also part of the more than 33% of Filipino respondents that believe that the church should be separated from the state.
They can give suggestions but they should not interfere with the decisions of the government. (Social Weather Stations. 2010) Utilitarianism is the principle that tell us that what is useful is good and that the ethical value of conduct is determined by the utility of its results. Utilitarianism proposes that the ultimate objective of moral action is the attainment of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of individuals. This goal of moral action is also considered the aim of all legislation and is the ultimate criterion of all social institutions. (Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2008. Utilitarianism. 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation. ) John Stuart Mill, an English philosopher an economist, defined utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. ” He described happiness as pleasure in the absence of pain. Moreover, he claimed that people’s achievement of goals and ends, such as virtuous living, should be counted as part of their happiness. (SparkNotes Editors. (n. d. ).
SparkNote on Utilitarianism. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www. sparknotes. om/philosophy/utilitarianism/) According to Mill, happiness is the sole basis of morality. He argued that all of us never really desired anything but only happiness. He supports this claim by showing that all the other objects of people’s desire are either means to happiness, or included in the definition of happiness. Mill explains at length that the sentiment of justice is actually based on utility, and that rights exist only because they are necessary for human happiness. (SparkNotes Editors. (n. d. ). SparkNote on Utilitarianism. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www. sparknotes. om/philosophy/utilitarianism/) Family planning and birth control using artificial contraception follows the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill. It is “the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873). Contraception, in connection to this principle, promotes happiness in such a way that it prevents unplanned pregnancy, which would most probably result to overpopulation then poverty.
The number of street children is increasing, and so is the number of “wasted” or “unfulfilled” life. These children have the right to be educated and to be “happy”. They were not provided with what they need and were given the responsibility to help in finding money for their daily living – at a very young age. Is this what we would call happiness? We believe most Filipinos would be in agreement with us that it is the opposite of happiness. We can start solving these serious problems. Family planning should be practiced by every couple.
Natural and artificial methods should be made available to every couple – especially to those couples who cannot afford artificial methods. Everybody suffers from overpopulation because resources seem to be insufficient for everyone. If this problem can be addressed, then majority, if not everyone, can live a happier life. In conclusion, Most Filipinos, according to some SWS surveys, want all methods of family planning and birth control be supported and made available to every Filipino couple. Supporting such methods can make Filipino lives happier through the fulfillment of their desires, and the solution to the overpopulation and poverty.
According to John Stuart Mill, happiness is the sole basis of morality. We can now answer the question, “Is it morally correct to use and/or support both natural and artificial methods of family planning and birth control? ” Another similar question can be, “Is it our moral obligation to use and/or support both natural and artificial methods of family planning and birth control? ” These questions can be clearly answered through the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill and the previous data we discussed. Our answer to these candidate Philosophy night questions is a resounding “YES. ”