IN what observers attribute to Church influence, Bolivia's government has hardened its stand against birth control practices and abortion. Mr Dorian Gorilla. the undersecretary of health, told the opening session of the Bolivian Congress of Gynecologists and Obstetricians in La Paz that any attempts to curb births artificially were considered "an attack against the country itself." He added that the government would punish those who advocated
artificial birth control practices.
In recent months there have been repeated warnings from the bishops in Bolivia against a growing campaign favouring the use of contraceptives, particularly among peasant families, They allege that some Bolivian government agencies have made commitments to American-based aid groups to foster policies against population growth.
Meantime in neighbouring Chile a geneticist, Professor Francisco Rothahammen, of the University of Chile, said massive birth control was resulting in a decrease of healthy humans and the multiplication of those with hereditary defects.
He cited studies of birth control programmes which. he said, showed that the birthrate among Chileans with no major genetic defects had decreased in recent years from 2.5 per cent a year to 1.6 per cent a year, while' the birthrate among those with serious genetic defects during the same time span remain the same at 2.3 per cent.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines has placed a new stress on natural family planning education in the face of
an intensified population control effort by the country's martial law regime. The new emphasiS marks something of a turn-around for a Church whose primary public effort at the national level in the past has been aimed at voicing its strong opposition to all artificial means of birth control.
Acknowledging that fewer children per family meant a better future for the young ones and a lighter economic load fur poor parents. the Church has begun a national advertising campaign to promote use of its free family planning clinics.
The clinics are promoted through the national Catholic radio station Veritas in Manila, which carries hourly announcements and commercials for them.
Run by parishes, and often manned by volunteer doctors and nurses. the clinics advise the rhythm method and abstinence as the only acceptable
birth control methods. They also warn of the health hazard posed by many artificial means.
Sterilisation as a means to control population led to "dehumanisation and mechanisation of man", said Bishop Talamas of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
The Bishop, who heads the social communications office for the Mexican Bishops' Conference, said population growth could he guided through education in responsible parenthood and "better control of man's emotions".
Some rulers and scientists might consider sterilisation as a positive step in controlling population. he said, but "in the moral aspect it is retrogression". For the individuals involved, sterilisation was a mutilation of the body. He noted, however, that sterilisation of women patients who otherwise would he in danger of death was morally acceptable.