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Plans for World Congress of
Families in Sydney next May


By Babette Francis, 15 September 2012

Plans for the next World Congress of Families in Australia have moved ahead, with the local organising committee issuing a call for papers to be presented at the congress. The Seventh World Congress of Families, WCF VII, will be held in Sydney during May 15-18, 2013. It is the first WCF to be held in the southern hemisphere and the first in an English- speaking country.

Convenor of the Sydney event is Mrs Mary-Louise Fowler of the Australian Family Association. The World Congress of Families has partners and sponsors from several countries; Australian partners include the Australian Family Association and Endeavour Forum Inc. The theme for WCF VII is “A New Vision for National Prosperity and Social Progress — happy families build better individuals, societies and economies”.

The Sydney local organising committee has called for research papers as well as submissions on public policy and practical approaches to building family life. For more information see wcfsydney2013.org.au.

Larry Jacobs, the secretary-general of the WCF, announced in August that Philippines Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad (current advisor to the country’s vice-president and a former government minister and Senate majority leader) has agreed to be a patron of the Sydney 2013 congress.

Senator Tatad also agreed to be a special ambassador for the World Congress of Families as he meets with leaders around the world. He has pledged to help bring Filipinos to the Sydney WCF. Larry Jacobs said that the WCF was looking at doing a regional event with Singapore leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew in Manila. The plan to have a regional meeting in Manila is timely because the Philippines parliament is currently debating a contentious Reproductive Health Bill.

Senator Vicente C. Sotto III of the Philippines has denounced what he refers to as “the global abortion lobby” and has made it his mission to fight the Reproductive Health Bill, reports C-Fam, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

The US-based C-Fam (www.c-fam.org) was founded in 1997 to monitor and seek to influence the social policy debate at the United Nations and other international institutions. Austin Ruse is C-Fam’s president; his regular email, the Friday Fax, goes to thousands all over the world. I have been inspired by Ruse’s leadership at my annual (penitential!) attendances at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women sessions in New York.

The Philippines Reproductive Health Bill has been rejected five times under different names, the last time as recently as 2010. Current President Benigno S. Aquino III is backing the latest bill which would institute a comprehensive “reproductive health” regime.

While abortion would remain illegal under the Philippines Constitution, the bill would legalise abortifacient drugs, provide free contraceptive services, require doctors to perform sterilisation procedures, and provide mandatory sex education for children beginning in 5th grade.

C-Fam’s legal expert Stefano Gennarini has reported that “Senator Sotto, leader of the Senate majority, and renowned as an incorruptible crime-fighter, evened the stakes when he made this battle against the abortion lobby personal. “On August 13, during his speech against the bill on the Senate floor, he wept inconsolably as he recounted the death of his first child from a weak heart when the child was only five months old. The death, doctors have told him, was the result of the use of hormonal contraceptives.”

Senator Sotto accused the proponents of the bill of working with the assistance of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and relying on grossly exaggerated maternal mortality data from the Guttmacher Institute, which he said aimed “to control population and not to deal with health concerns”, and whose figures were contradicted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). “We cannot simply rely on these questionable institutions to provide the statistics for us,” Senator Sotto said. He also cited scientific evidence showing how the bill would harm the health of women and the unborn.

As mentioned previously, while abortion remains illegal under the Philippines constitution, the Reproductive Health Bill would legalise abortifacient drugs. In Australia, a dangerous precedent was set in August in Queensland when Judge Leanne Clare of the Brisbane Children’s Court, interpreting the state’s Surrogacy Act 2010, ruled that conception occurs at implantation, not at fertilisation when the male and female gametes unite. Her ruling is contrary to science, but similar logic in the Philippines would enable the Reproductive Health Bill to evade the ban on abortion in their constitution.

Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons) is co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.



Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN