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Dacca, Bangladesh, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, April 1977. 41 p.Reports on a survey conducted to identify the formal and informal opinion leaders as perceived by the people of Bangladesh, and to assess their attitude towards family planning. Findings indicate that the contraception practice rate among opinion leaders is significantly higher than the average, and it is recommended that specific orientation and training in the skills of interpersonal and group communication be arranged for them to effect a transfer of motivation to the people in their locality. Also established is the fact that obstacles to family planning due to religious belief is more a function of the leaders' perception of people's attitude than a function of reality. Opinion leaders fail to identify population as the root problem, so that family planning education should be structured around the felt problems of food, unemployment, poverty, and so forth. The need for a greater degree of husband-wife communication about family planning is indicated, as well as a change in the traditional status of women. A family planning program with an incentive-disincentive aspect should be deemphasized. Finally, the survey reveals that the local leadership is not yet ready to take major responsibility in family planning communication.
Critic. 1977 Spring; 14-25.The lack of acceptance of the Catholic Church's teachings on birth control on the part of the devout laity of the church raises the possibility that the teachings are wrong, i.e., they do not reflect Catholic truth as manifested through the sense of the faithful. According to a study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, 87% of the Catholics in the US do not accept the church's position on birth control. Catholic tradition supports the position that infallible Catholic truths can emerge from the sense of the faithful, i.e., that God speaks through the faithful. The church is, therefore, confronted with a dilemma. The leadership, claiming divine guidance, is at odds with the sense of the faithful. Conservative elements in the church dismiss the dilemma by claiming that only those who accept the teachings of the church are true Catholics. Many church leaders believe that the dilemma stems from inadequate pastoral work. They maintain that more intensive pastoral work will eventually convince the laity of the validity of the teachings. Another explanation should at least be considered. Perhaps the teachings are wrong. Perhaps they were arrived at through inappropriate means. This possibility is explored using sociological knowledge about the decision making process in voluntary organization and the study of the historical reception of Catholic teaching by Father Pere Congar. The church can be viewed as a voluntary organization since membership is optional. In a voluntary organization the function of a leader is to promote consensual decision making. Divine guidance is, in reality, the process of promoting a consensus. The leader draws the truth, the Word of God, out of the sense of the faithful. The church is infallible not because it has automatic access to a set of right answers, but because it has the capacity to identify inadequate answers and to work until it has drawn out the truth from the faithful. Furthermore, the work of Father Congar demonstrates that histoircally the council of the church has become effective only after it has been received and accepted by the whole church. If it is not accepted it is eventually abandoned. In summary, ecclesiastical authority may be viewed, not as some automatically given addition ot the Word of God, but as the spiritual discernment of the sense of God in the total community of the faithful. If this argument is applicable to infallible truths then it should also be applicable to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church, including the birth control encyclical, i.e., the Humanae Vitae.
Social Biology. 1977 Winter; 24(4):267-280.Until recently it appeared as if oral contraception greatly reduced the costs of fertility control. The advantages of effectiveness and the convenience of this method in preference to coitus-related contraception led to the dramatic increase in oral contraceptive (OC) use during the 1960s in the U.S. The trend in the 1970s is different. OC use has leveled off, and suspicions have arisen that the net costs to women of using this form of birth control are higher than was previously believed. Discontinuation rates by women who have been on OCs have increased despite major improvement in the chemistry of the OC in recent years. In view of the evidence concerning the apparent risks to health associated with OCs, the current trend is not surprising. The range of major diseases for which the relative risk is higher among OC users seems to be broadening, and, as a consequence, the cumulative absolute risk overall of these diseases may be very much higher than was believed when only selected thromboembolic entities seemed to be involved. In order to obtain the public's view about the safety of OCs, 1500 voting age adults have been questioned in national surveys since 1966. 34% of the respondents in 1976 said that they believed the OC to be safe, but 47% of this group meant that it is as safe as aspirin. 34% ranked it as being somewhat less safe than aspirin. Their answers indicate that over time there had been increasing anxiety about the safety of the OC, but no general sense of panic. Even among those who felt it is unsafe, only a minority are willing to label it as "really dangerous."