Monday, March 08, 2010

Why not warnings?

The issue concerning condom use in the Philippines has been elevated to the question of appropriateness of advertising condoms ever since the Philippine Department of Health gave out condoms for free on Valentine's Day this year. The Church has spearheaded the call for the ban when she said: "... condom advertisements should be banned from television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, and public places, as they desensitize the youth's delicate conscience and weaken their moral fiber as future parents."

I see that it is the right of the Church to call for such action, so that those who say that it is wrong for the Church to propose such measures is taking away the Church's moral obligation and responsibility as well as not giving her the benefit of the right to free expression.

Nevertheless, I also tend to agree that banning these advertisements might also go against the constitutional right of free expression of the manufacturers and advertisers. To my mind, it is not GHB, Ecstacy, cocaine, guns, or assisted-suicide services that are being advertised (these will most likely be banned from public advertising).

I echo a friend's suggestion: Considering that the ban is unconstitutional and considering as well the Church's right and duty to care for her faithful, we may allow these advertisements, BUT, in the same vein that government mandates that advertisements and other marketing communication strategies, including packaging, must include warnings or contra-indications, advertisements for condoms and other contraceptives cannot be exempt from this rule.

We cannot deny that there are hazards to contraceptive use (as explained here and here and here) and, so let us put these warnings. Informed choice. I have seen many of these ads and packaging, but warnings are never included.

If ads for alcoholic beverages and liquor include, for example, "Drink moderately" ; if medicine ads include "If symptoms persist, consult a doctor"; if health supplements ads say "No approved therapeutic claim"; if toy packaging comes with "Choking Hazard" labels; if tobacco products have picture-based warnings; then why not put similar warnings in contraceptive products advertisements and packaging (there could be a choking hazard, in some cases, y'know)?

If the anti-smoking, anti-processed milk or anti-powder milk, anti-gun, anti-right -to-reply, anti-freedom-of-information-act, hell, even anti-Arroyo-in-government advocacies (lobbies?) are gaining headway into "regulatory" solutions, we might have another effective way of telling people the evils of contraception: the warnings on labels and advertisements.

Then again, there is an anti-life lobby that will fight this.

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