PALAU BILL TO BAN CONTRACEPTIVES CONTESTED

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Senator says bill will help increase population

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase KOROR (Palau Horizon, Nov. 24, 2010) - Two Palau lawmakers have expressed their opposition to the bill now pending in the Senate that would ban the sale and distribution of contraceptives in this island republic.

Reached through their mobile phones, Senators Alfonso Diaz and Surangel Whipps, Jr. both said that while they agree that there is a need to increase the number of people in this country, they don’t see contraceptives ban as the best way to reach that goal.

"I agree with the proponent that there is a need for population increase, but I don’t agree that we have to ban contraceptives in order to increase the number of people in this place," Diaz said.

Palau has a population of 20, 789. The Palau population is growing at a rate of 0.3 percent.

The lawmaker said that he believes that the proposal, if enacted into law, would compromise the campaign to minimize incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among the people in the country.

"Contraceptives protect people from sexually transmitted diseases. Why should the government ban them?" he asked. Sexually transmitted diseases include HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, granuloma, chancroid, scabies, crab louse, viral hepatitis and chlamydia.

Diaz disclosed that such concern pushed him to vote "no" when the bill was presented for consideration in the Upper House of Congress.

The proposal to ban the sale and distribution of contraceptives was introduced and passed on first reading in the Upper House during its recent session.

"We could see a rise in the incidence of such dreaded diseases if you ban contraceptives. That’s the main reason I casted a negative vote," he added.

Likewise, Sen. Whipps stressed that concerns over the impact of a ban on the campaign against STDs also pushed him to oppose the measure.

"A ban would put leave many people at risk of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases," he pointed out.

Recently, Sen. Hokkons Baules introduced a bill that would ban contraceptives.

The bill, also known as the "Population Growth Act of 2011", would ban the sale and distribution of condoms, IUDs, birth control pills, and other forms of birth control contraceptives.

Sen. Baules said his bill is aimed at increasing the population of this island republic.

The bill, if enacted into law, would impose a fine of not less than US$500 or imprisonment of not less than three months on anyone who will violate its provisions.

A "contraceptive device" is defined in the bill as any instrument, device, material, or agent introduced into the female reproductive system for the primary purpose of preventing conception and condoms used on the male reproductive system.

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