Church comes out against proposal for family planning

via Pioneer News Service | Kochi published on July 29, 2008

The Catholic Church on Tuesday came out with strong objection to the proposal of the law reforms committee appointed by the LDF committee to strictly implement a two-child norm and impose a fine of Rs 10,000 on those violating it.

The Catholic Church called the proposed norm ‘draconian’. The recommendation among the 75-odd draft proposals was prepared by the committee headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer.

The recommendations for population control, of which the draft has already been drawn up by the committee, call for legal provisions to ban giving birth to more than two children per couples. The committee calls for propagation of family planning measures in a bid to control population.

The suggestions of the committee include imposition of fine on couples begetting more than two children. A fine of Rs 10,000 should be imposed on the couples for every child they beget after the second child. Also, such children should not be given education or other social benefits, the committee says. At the same time, it wants the Government to give all possible assistances to the first two kids.

The Pioneer had earlier reported on the wrath the recommendations had invited from minority community establishments including the Catholic Church and the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council. Church spokesman Fr Paul Thelekat told reporters here on Tuesday that this was a ‘draconian’ proposal and Justice Iyer was ‘blindly’ following the Chinese model of penalising couples for having a second child.

Describing the proposal as dangerous, he said it was against the fundamental human rights of a couple to have children. “It is up to them to decide how many children they want to have,” he said. The Catholic Church, which had recently given a call for its faithful to have as many children as possible to sustain its falling population rate, has already begun preparations to resist the move.

In the particular context of the Church’s call for having more children than two, the committee also wants the Government to prohibit the efforts to promote begetting and rearing more children than two per couple on the basis of community, religion, class, caste or region. The committee has finalized the draft of the recommendations for enacting legislation named Kerala Family Planning and Birth Control Act.

A senior official of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), which had in a meeting last month asked its laity to beget as many children as possible to save the falling Christian population, had said they would launch an agitation, “even stronger than the one against the textbook”, on this.In Kerala, Hindus constitute 55 per cent of the total population, while Muslims form 24.7 per cent. The Christians constitute 19 percent or less.

The larger family concept is being mooted by the Church in the context of the fall in the population growth at a rate of -0.40 per cent a decade. Sources in the Church said that the Hindus in the State also should view the situation seriously as their rate of fall of population growth, at 1.55 per cent a decade, was far more critical in the context of a growth in the Muslim population at a rate of 1.75 per cent in ten years.

The law reforms panel would also recommend regular awareness campaigns on family planning methods in the rural areas. It also wants distribution of contraceptives and other family planning implements through hospitals and community and primary health centres.

The committee has drawn up the recommendations because there are no comprehensive and effective laws to control population growth. The panel holds that certain communities are trying to grab several benefits through collective efforts using the population size as strength thus leading the collapse of the financial system of the State.

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