BAGUIO

Pawid: Babies and more babies

Lighter Moments

THERE will be more childbirths and babies next year.

This is the assessment of social scientists. It is the consequence of the forced quarantine imposed by the government to avoid the wild spread of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic.

Of course, the government never thought of a likely population explosion when she enforced the lockdown of communities, towns and cities as early as April. Her concern was saving lives.

What the government agencies or task force versus Miss Coronavirus may have failed to imagine is what couples do inside a small residential space for weeks and months. Thousands of married couples or love partners were prevented from going out of residences except to buy necessities.

In the National Capital Region which embraces Metro-Manila cities and nearby provinces, they were only allowed to go out to buy food and other necessities in crowded food markets. But the situation has exposed thousands and endangered in acquiring the deadly Covid-19 virus. The bulk of Covid-19-infected cases are in the congested metropolis that included the “Queen City of the South” Cebu City.

When the government distributed cash and food subsidy nationwide, she should have included condoms or contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies among couples of reproductive ages. Among the hundreds of employees in the multi-agency task force handling the Covid-19 problem, not one pushed for a policy along with the national population program.

But then again, it would have taken the ire of the hierarchy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Roman Church in the country that is against the use of artificial birth control methods.

Advocates of family planning since half a century ago say the use of condoms is the most effective way to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Condoms like all other contraceptives are strictly taboo in the country to the Roman Catholic Church who adheres to the orthodox values of marriage and sexuality.

Several years ago, Congress for the first time in history appropriated some P8 million for the purchase of condoms. These were distributed free. That budget was incorporated when Congress passed the Reproductive Health Bill as a population management tool.

This happened despite the heavy leaning and threats of Catholic bishops on members of both houses of Congress. Yet majority congressmen and senators stood their grounds against a Catholic backlash in their forthcoming reelection bids as a consequence.

The passage of that P8-million budget must have possibly been influenced by the liberal pronouncement of then-pope Benedict XVI on the use of condoms. The prophylactic was accepted as an added means to prevent the spread of the feared human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV-Aids).

Until recently, the strict adherence of quarantine protocols is being relaxed to re-jumpstart and re-strengthen the economy which weakened due to the closure of business establishments including factories.

Coming one at a time, businesses are reopening the likes of restaurants, shopping malls, factories, etc. and vanity places such as beauty salons and barbershops.

Even local tourism has opened in certain areas. Baguio City, Cordillera provinces, and the Ilocos provinces including Pangasinan have agreed to the flow of local tourists under less strict protocols on Covid-19 protection.

With keen interest, we would anxiously await Covid-19 situations when local tourists move around these provinces.

The birth data covering the first and second quarters of next year would also be on our watch list. It would be interesting.

The population of the country has ballooned to more than 103 million from 86 million some 15 years ago, registering a 1.8-percent growth rate.

By the way, in Sweden, “unprotected sex” or having sex without the use of condoms is punishable. She is the least populated country in the world with a highly improved quality of life.

South American countries whose people are predominantly Catholic have adopted liberal family planning and population management. Brazil, for example, over the years distributes 200 million free condoms and has, to a certain degree, reduced her population growth.


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