In the most recent issue, Fall 2011, of The Human Life Review, Maria Caulfield has an interesting article about a new population control bill that has been introduced in the very Catholic Philippines. (Her article is called "The Irresponsibility of 'Responsible Parenthood'," and I hope that it will eventually be available on-line.)
As best I can understand, the bill chiefly provides for the government to propagandize its people in favor of smaller families. It also would institute sex education for children from adolescence up and would provide birth control preferentially to "the poor." The bill also includes the phrase "reproductive health rights," which has been interpreted to mean a right to abortion. Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, and this bill does not explicitly overturn those laws but would be, to put it mildly, in tension with them.
To make matters even more bizarre, the bill contains a provision that couples cannot obtain a marriage license until they have presented a certificate showing that they have received "instructions and information" on "responsible parenthood" and "family planning."
Caulfield is surely right that the impetus for this bill is coming chiefly from the cooperation of social liberals in the Philippines with international "family planning" groups. She points out that in a forum sponsored by the infamous UNFPA the European Ambassador to the Philippines chided the Philippine Congress for not passing such a bill and insinuated that foreign aid should be linked to the Philippine's passing such measures.
All of this is all too predictable and dreary, though it is not merely predictable and dreary right now to traditionalists in the Philippines. If they don't want their children to receive American-style sex education and their young people to be required to get a creepy "family planning" certificate in order to get married, they need to defeat this bill.
One additional thing in Caulfield's article interested me. That was her quotation of a Filipino writer named Bernardo Villegas to the effect that the Philippines is poor because for 30 years after World War II, Philippine leaders "adopted economic policies that fostered an inward-looking, import-substitution industrialization based on protectionist, anti-market, and ultra-nationalist ideologies" similar to what "most Latin American countries implemented with the same dire consequences."
I have to admit that I'm not quite sure what the point is about thirty years after WWII. That takes us about to 1975. If those economic policies have been changed since then, why haven't the changes had an effect? But Caulfield also cites (and translates) former Mayor of Manila Lito Atienza as saying, "There is no data linking population growth to poverty. We need sound economic policies." (Here is the Villegas article in which he explains his ideas at more length, advocating both agrarian development and also small-business entrepreneurship.)
Now, no doubt there will be disagreements among our readers here as to what constitute sound economic policies for the Philippines. But I would ask moral traditionalists to consider something: Suppose that protectionist, anti-market economic policies have contributed to poverty in the Philippines. In that case, note that this has been used by the minions of the population control god to pretend, as usual, that the cause of poverty is people and to press for their own agenda as a solution, including both the sexualizing of children and totalitarian plans for restricing marriage licenses. This is, obviously, not something conservatives should want. It may just be that this is a case where the free market could be helpful to moral traditionalism by bringing material well-being to a traditionalist country, thus falsifying the myth that population control is the route to economic prosperity.
It is, at least, worth a try. And perhaps the Philippines should serve as a sobering reality check when we hear people talking about how the free market and moral traditionalism are at odds and how protectionism should be linked to traditionalism to return us to a better society. Dire poverty is hardly what we should want; moreover, it opens up countries to ideologies that blame their family size and their sexual traditionalism for their poverty. Conservatives should be only too happy to break that link.