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BusinessWorld, November 9, 2007

European solons pitch population control

While widely influenced by the Roman Catholic church which shuns population control, the Philippines could still manage population growth through accountability and leadership example, officials of the European Parliamentary Forum of Population and Development (EPF) said.

In a dinner with select reporters Wednesday, Norwegian parliament member Kari Kjonaas Kjos told BusinessWorld the lack of education on reproductive health and rights have resulted in extreme poverty.

But she said the government and its leaders should have the political will to temper population growth and empower parents of their rights to properly manage their families, she said.

EPF officials are in the country for a study visit to create awareness of the population situation and promote "practical international and regional responses to those needs."

EPF is a Brussels-based parliamentary network of 25 all-party groups across Europe. It serves as a platform for cooperation and coordination to improve sexual and reproductive health situations.

"Parliaments play a crucial role in making sure international funding commitments are met and programs are available where they are needed the most," the group said.

Ms. Kjos noted the rigid application of Catholic traditions, specifically families' tendency to veer away from issues on contraceptives and birth control, as one of the hindrances to attaining population control.

"But in Norway, for example, it's not the Church who decides. We have public hearings on the matter. We explain that we are also saving lives," she said.

In this case, population control means teaching families of their rights to have a child and their obligation to raising the child in better economic conditions, she said.

"Countries that have higher economic growth have lower population growth," she noted. The group was in Navotas on Tuesday to visit poor families. "In Norway, even animals are not allowed to live in places such as those of families under bridges," she said.

In another interview, Lithuanian parliament member Marija Pavilioniene said the presence of nongovernmental organizations has helped improve population management.

She noted that feminism and other liberal ideas have improved Filipino attitude towards family planning.

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