Suzanne over at Big Blue Wave has fisked out the latest D&P public relations debacle. You can read about it here. Suzanne does a good job at rebutting and exposing the distortions of Mr. Danny Gilles, a “development educator” at Development and Peace, and representative for the Atlantic region.
Here is his entry on the D&P Just Youth Facebook page. Time for a rebuttal to each of his more notable comments….
On Tuesday, March 22, Lifesite News made all-too-familiar allegations against a Development and Peace Filipino partner. Under the headline Development & Peace Sending Canadian Youth to Work with Pro-Abort Group in Philippines, Lifesite News(LSN) wrote that abortion advocacy “is readily available” on the partner’s website. The organization being attacked is a long-time D&P partner The Freedom From Debt Coalition. In fact there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of abortion advocacy on the coalition’s website. This is not a matter of opinion where a reporter can make a judgement, it is a matter of fact and I challenge anyone to produce one shred of evidence that would show otherwise.
Then why is FDC joining a 50 group coalition urging the government to pass a controversial national Reproductive Health Bill? This Bill has “an explicit population control emphasis, proposes a massive promotion of contraception and sterilization throughout the country, mandatory sex education for Filipino children starting at grade 5 and a removal of the right to conscientious objection, with some exceptions for religious reasons, for health care workers who refuse to provide these services.” (Source) The Catholic Bishops of the country are firmly opposed to it.
Amazingly, Development & Peace thinks that signing a “Reproducitve Rights” Bill which is completely contrary to Catholic teaching means there is “absolutely no evidence whatsoever of abortion advocacy” of FDC. Are these people on heavy drugs or do they only act like it on their Facebook page?
Does Development & Peace believe it is OK for their partners to actively oppose the will of the Catholic bishops in another country?
So why are articles like this written on LSN? That’s a good question and I hope that what I will write will shed some light on LSN’s smear campaign against Development and Peace. The March 22ndarticle is typical of LSN reporting. It mixes a small bit of truth with a lot of manipulation to attempt to defame a Development and Peace partner in the eyes of Catholics. The LSN report contains some truth but it is so misrepresented as to make even the truth seem like lies.
There has been no “defamation”, no smears and no lies by LSN. And there has certainly been no contradiction of the facts – which in the end is all that matters. The rest is hubris.
First of all, it is true that there are two articles on the coalition’s website that mention abortion. LSN’s dogged journalist discovered these articles by simply doing a website search for the word abortion. However the references to abortion in these articles have to do with the terrible state of affairs in the Philippines where so many deaths occur because of abortion. One of the articles in question says: “Because of largely unmet needs for modern contraception and related reproductive health services and education, half of the 3 million pregnancies occurring every year are reported as unplanned, with one-third ending up in abortion. Induced abortions are the fourth leading cause of maternal deaths in the Philippines.” This is not a pro-abortion statement.
No one said it was. It was only mentioned on this blog to give a little context to the story itself. Still, the entire context of the article suggested that FDC might be favourable to abortion which, on further investigation, is most certainly true.
The second important piece of truth in the article is as Lifesite reports: the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines opposes the reproductive health bill. LSN would like us to believe that the bishops oppose the bill because it would legalize or decriminalize abortion, and most people reading their report would draw that conclusion. However, this is simply not true. The bishops oppose the bill because it proposes that sex education and better access to contraception be made available to the Filipino people. The LSN report also makes it seem as though the Freedom From Debt Coalition is leading the charge to pass this bill. This also is not true.
This article is on FDC’s website:
MANILA, Philippines – A day before several lawmakers deliver their respective sponsorship speeches on the controversial bill promoting the use of both artificial and natural means of family planning, among others, a network of more than 50 non-government and people’s organizations advocating women’s and people’s rights today urged other members of the House of Representatives to affirm women’s right to reproductive self-determination, and to support the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. The Welga ng Kababaihan, which includes the Freedom from Debt Coalition Women’s Committee, stressed that it is a woman’s right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to her sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. The Freedom from Debt Coalition has attempted for many years to have the Filipino government move more of its spending away from the servicing of debt (paying interest on the country’s foreign debt) and into services that would benefit the people, whether these be education, health services or housing. This is the crux of their work. What is true is that the women’s committee of the FDC has taken part in the work of a very broad coalition of women’s groups and other groups who are pushing for the passage of the reproductive health bill. The women’s committee of the FDC, as well as dozens of other groups, participated in meetings to give input into the drafting of the bill and have organized activities to educate the public about the content and importance of the bill for society’s development.
In a November 2008 pastoral letter, the Filipino bishops wrote: “It is our collective discernment that the Bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb. It is a source of danger for the stability of the family. It places the dignity of womanhood at great risk.” (Source)
Does Development & Peace now wish to correct the Filipino bishops on their “abortion” assessment on the legislation in question?
One quote that LSN uses in their report is the following: According to the coalition, “The RH Bill makes it the responsibility of the state to protect the right to choose, not to make decisions for individuals. Women’s right to choose is a basic part of exercising control over their lives. The Bill provides for women to be informed as to services that will ensure women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.” LSN’s use of this quote in the context of the rest of the article is supposed to make the reader think that the coalition is advocating for abortion rights. It is not. “Choice” in this quote refers to knowledge of one’s body, the reproductive health services that are available to people and access to forms of contraception… it does not refer to abortion.
Baloney. Every group which pushes for “reproductive rights” in Catholic countries start with contraception for obvious reasons. Then, once that victory has been secured, these groups move quickly to the hard cases of abortion like rape and incest, before moving on to abortion on demand. That’s how incrementalism works and has worked for the last 40 years in the abortion wars. Anyone even remotely familiar how wealthy American and U.N. pro-abort foundations work know this to be true. The fact that D&P remains blind, or, what is more likely, wants to remain wilfully blind, does not detract from the reality of what happens on the ground. The Filipino bishops have cut through the rhetoric and called this Bill for what it is really all about: a stepping stone to abortion. That’s what contraception – which is even worse than abortion in certain respects – is to abortion: it’s the pimp that introduces abortion to an unsuspecting victim.
Amazingly, D&P still wants to defend their outrageous support for these pro-abort pimps…which only confirms what we have long suspected of them: They are not pro-life. They are as Catholic as the consumate “Catholic” politician who does not let his private opinions get in the way of “sound social justice policy”.
Why has Lifesite decided to make an issue of the reproductive health bill now? One reason is that it needed a news story so that it could defame Development and Peace during its Share Lent campaign. What makes this news story, which draws on two articles that are 17 months old, “current” is that LSN has learned that Development and Peace is organizing youth from Canada to visit the Philippines next summer. The obvious inference is that Development and Peace will be corrupting impressionable youth by exposing them to a group that has been a leader in the struggle for abortion services. Anyone who believes this has been duped.
Sorry, the facts prove otherwise. Your partner is working against the Catholic Church in the Philippines and supporting pro-contraception legislation which will eventually lead to open push for abortion. For all intents and purposes, it’s the first Bill of the larger legislative agenda. That’s not our opinion. That’s the Catholic Church’s opinion in the Philippines. Just whose side are you on?
The reproductive health bill is controversial for the Catholic Church in the Philippines because of the church’s teaching on contraception, not because it advocates for abortion. It should be pointed out that in Canada, the bishops conference in their nuanced Winnipeg Statement have not been so unrealistic as to deny Catholics a choice with regard to forms of birth control. Should Catholics in the Philippines have a choice whether to use contraceptives?Should non-Catholics? Should men and women be aware of options in this regard? These and other sensitive questions frame the debate in the Philippines. The debate is not about abortion, which is illegal in the Philippines. For Lifesite News to ignore this distinction and attempt to draw slanderous conclusions against a Development and Peace partner is a travesty for the truth.
Ah yes, and so it comes full circle. The Winnipeg Statement. Socon or Bust readers will recall the multiple posts on this website which have documented the sordid history of the Winnipeg Statement and The Rosarium’s two previous attempts at getting it retracted. To date our efforts have been unsuccessful, but the bitter fruit of the Winnipeg Statement is no longer in any serious doubt. It is the poison that has been at the root of almost all of the Church’s problems in Canada. It is one of the main reasons that Development & Peace has been blindly funding the murderous assault on the unborn through their “social justice partners” for decades, and turning a blind eye to the evidence which has been in front of their noses for the past year. (Later this week, I will be posting another entry on how the rejection of the Humanae Vitae (and the support of the Winnipeg Statement) lead to the child sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church has been dealing with for many years now.)
For someone who calls himself a reporter to sit at his office computer in faraway, rich Canada; log onto a website of an organization that is fighting for better services for its people; do a word search for the word abortion just so that he can nail that word to the organization which does no abortion advocacy whatsoever… and finally try to plant the idea that Canadian youth are being corrupted by the staff and volunteers of Development and Peace… this to me is an irresponsible “journalist” who writes for a news agency that is led by a narrow view of reality and unconcerned by the real struggles of the poor. For the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace to have to take this slander year after year… this too is a travesty.
Don’t worry, with God’s benevolent mercy, Development & Peace won’t have to take it much longer.