Alfonso Suico

Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2017.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


George Griener


The debates surrounding the reproductive health bills created controversy and division between the Philippine government and the Church leaders. The government proposed laws that would promote accessible health care to women and children, including access to safe and effective contraceptives. The Catholic bishops opposed these bills, which they considered as inconsistent with Church teachings on sexuality and marriage.

Following a modified pastoral circle, this thesis describes the Philippine situation and genealogy of the debates, analyzes the critical position of the bishops, and proposes how the right to religious freedom can provide a paradigm of examining the debates. The bishops' opposition conflated the distinct moral issues of abortion and contraception and framed them on a physicalist interpretation of the natural law. By appraising religious liberty, this thesis shows that the language of human dignity and rights provides a persuasive argument against abortion. Grounding their position against contraception on the Catholic teleology of marriage, conversely, doesn't give a compelling argument to warrant the legislation of laws in a pluralistic society.

The thesis concludes that religious freedom provides a framework that is relevant in addressing the persistent questions on reproductive health as well as emerging issues on matters of women's rights and social justice.

Included in

Religion Commons