Govt Bans LRT on Women and Vasectomy on Men After Bodhu Bala Sena Protested Against Birth Control to Protect Dwindling Sinhala Race
By Chrishanthi Christopher
Last week the government sent out a communiqué to all government hospitals and private institutions banning all irreversible family planning methods that control birth.
Following the ban Maternity Hospitals and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that do Ligation and Resection of Tubes (LRT) on women and Vasectomy on men shelved their plans and struck off all scheduled procedures from the hospital registers. This follows an announcement by the government that the procedures should not be carried out on women and men unless it is done for medical purposes.
Maternity Hospitals, Gynaecology Units of Base Hospitals and NGOs dealing with population control came under deep shock. They say that the government’s call comes without any warning.
Health Ministry, Secretary, Dr. Nihal Jayatilake said that the procedure hitherto being done on men and women should not be carried out unless it is for a medical reason. He refused to explain the reasons for the ban but stressed that none of the NGOs are allowed to carry out any permanent birth control methods. “This is government policy,” he said.
Ironically this call come at time when the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a movement claiming to be protecting Sinhala culture and values called on the government to put an end to all irreversible methods of birth control claiming that the Sinhala nation is dwindling.
Against their will
They say that women and men of the productive age group are pushed into accepting the procedure against their will by certain NGOs who have vested interests. The BBS General Secretary, Gala Boda Atte Gnanasara Thera told Ceylon Today that the Sinhala women who go to the hospitals to give birth are unwittingly opting for the procedure. He blamed the midwives and attendants in the hospitals for misleading young mothers who come there for confinement. “They are trained to advocate the procedure to young mothers. We are against this type of behaviour. Our women are misled or pushed into believing that they should not have more than two children,” he said.
Gnanasara Thera said that the Family Planning Law of 1973 is outdated and cannot be applied today. The Act states that women in the age group of 26 years and above are eligible for family planning “Those days men and women got married early and they had many children at that age. But now they start life at 30 years,” he said.
“The government has got to intervene and ban the procedure before it is too late. There is a conspiracy, our Sinhala population is declining,” Gnanasara Thera added.
He claimed that in the Tamil populated areas, the doctors inform the women and men of the repercussions of the surgical procedures and do not advocate it till they are over 40 years.
Government has to intervene
Pointing a finger at the NGO Marie Stope International, he said that funding for the birth control procedures are done by them. In addition he says that illegal abortions are also being carried out by the institution. “They have a sinister aim behind it,” he said.
However, the Family Health Bureau and the Family Health associations who are in collaboration with Marie Stope International and help it perform the sterilization procedures say that it is totally wrong to say that the mothers and fathers are pushed into this. “It is a misconception. It is purely voluntary and only if they opt for the procedure the surgery is done,” Family Health Chief Dr. Deepthi Perera said.
“Now even we are trying to revise the age limit for this procedure. We are thinking of raising the age limit to 35 and above,” she said.
However, critics argue that the ban will only put older women at risk and drive them to illegal abortion. It is reasoned out that with the ban the older women who have teenage or adult children and would like to have an LRT procedure would be deprived. They maintain that women with grown up children would like to have a permanent method of contraception.
In such instances when and if they get pregnant they would not like to get help from the family planning units and would be pushed to other resources. Most often than not they will seek the help of illegal abortion clinics that would charge them exorbitantly and even put their lives in danger.
It is also argued that abortion parlours which would mushroom and quacks and half baked doctors would perform abortions on mothers most often using makeshift theatres and often not following sterilization methods that could turn aseptic and put the mothers at risk or even kill them.
The Family Health Association (FPA), also a family planning organization has shelved all its scheduled LRT procedures until further notice.
“It is banned, we cannot challenge the government’s decision … the repercussions would be unplanned pregnancies,” said a doctor at the FPA who wished to be anonymous.
“We use to do around 30 procedures once a month and now everything has to be cancelled,” the doctor said.
The Human Rights Commission welcomed the move and said that it is the right to life. Its Chairman Prathiba Mahanamahewa said according to the Human Rights Declaration of 1948 and the Political Rights Convention, everybody has a right to life.
“It is an individual right and this is another issue,” he said.
The Colombo Archbishop’s House also expressed its pleasure for the move to ban the birth control methods. “We believe that birth control and abortions are sinful and we welcome the move,” Fr. Benedict Joseph of the Archbishop’s House told Ceylon Today.
“The ban opens up for birth and it is in keeping with the teaching of the church,” he said.
LRT is a simple procedure done under local anaesthesia and is performed in a theatre for 20 to 30 minutes. The patient goes home the same day. The procedure will not have any effect on the menstrual cycle of the women.
Male sterilization or vasectomy is a minor surgery taking only 10 to 15 minutes, also done under local anaesthesia. Post surgery there will be no effect on the sexuality or quality or quantity of the ejaculatory fluid of the person.
- Women carry the burden of family planning (thehindu.com)