The Reproductive Health Bill is a Responsible Health Bill

by Cocoy

Magellan’s Cross marked the beginning of a long and colorful saga between Filipinos and the Roman Catholic Church. It was Catholic faith that prevented blood to be shed in EDSA. It was a testament to that same faith that many Filipinos helped one another during Ondoy and Pepeng. But now, the Church and our People are at odds over Reproductive Health.

This is our nation now: the third largest Catholic nation in the world. It is a nation where ten Filipino women die every day from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes. Of every thousand infants born, thirty-six needlessly die, and for every 580 women giving birth, one loses her life. In this country, thirty-eight percent of children die before they reach the age of five.*

This is also true: Our democracy is not a theocracy.

By turning a blind eye to the question of reproductive health, our nation seems to approve more than a quarter of women aged 15-24 to get pregnant and sanction nearly 20 per cent of Filipino women to have unplanned births. About 36 per cent of abortions reported in hospitals involve women between 15 and 24 years old.*

Are we inadvertently promoting a culture of death?

Noynoy Aquino puts this issue in proper perspective:
“Palagay ko, meron po tayong problema sa populasyon. Palagay ko meron akong responsibilidad bilang may konsensyang tao na tumulong na yung mga batang dinadala sa mundo ay may pagkakataon na gumanda ang kanilang buhay”

We will need the Reproductive Health Bill for our people to grasp human physiology and sexuality; to develop healthy bodies, and healthy relationships. It does not legalize abortion, nor deny abstinence method. It does not restrict the Church in promoting morality amongst its flock. It does not deny Muslims and Buddhists and other faith or even those who do not believe, any right. It aims to develop relationships and interpersonal skills, about exercising responsibility regarding sexual relationships, a healthy discussion about prematurely engaging in sexual intercourse, the use of contraception, the risk of venereal diseases and other sexual health issues. Reproductive Health as codified by the state does not replace the teachings of the Church. They are complementary. Responsible parenthood is key, and being responsible begins when parents decide to bring children into this world to live, and not in day-to-day survival.

This is how we change the world:

We must inaugurate an era of constructive engagement, an end to the cycle of selfishness and the tired fundamentalist dogma that saps strength and promotes ostracizing, and demonizing and a patronizing view of women and children. We must take responsibility for our women, to care for them and the children they bring into this world. It is an era where our compassion must be codified and our commitment, true. “When love is responsible, it is truly free” must not be empty words we utter in our beautiful cathedrals, or whispered to advice the bitterly remorseful inside a confessional.

We must choose hope over fear, determination over cynicism, confidence over pragmatism. The question we ask today is not about our petty grievances over tools and methods, over condoms and abstinence. It is about codifying our Filipino men to have the conviction to stand up for our women and their children. It is about allowing every Filipino to discern what’s right . It is about making a world where there are fewer unplanned pregnancies and unwanted children.

As we look to the future with humble gratitude for what has come before, we must stand together and our differences set aside that we may have a government that resolves to be better than what we have now. This above all is what our people so desire and deserve. I believe that Noynoy Aquino’s stance on Reproductive Health is in keeping with building that government with honesty, integrity, transparency, and good governance at its core ethos.

_____
Cocoy is a thirty year old who believes we should be conservative in what we say, liberal in what we accept. He contributes for the blog, Filipino Voices.

*figures from SB-43

12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Fierce said,

    As a Catholic, i never believed in the Church’s literal interpretation of “go to the world and multiply.” It comes from the Jewish Torah and is meant for the Jews whose total number in Israel probably did not exceed 2 million for much of their history. The divine admonition certainly worked for the Jews — they’re all the over the place now and in firm control of world finance.

    Our Catholic Church should focus more on “caring capacity” of parents, whether rich or poor. Working parents have limited time for children. People with low education have limited parenting know-how and are the first to screw up childcare. The stress of survival on poor families have a toll on the psychology of parents who turn into default mode allowing the streets to raise their children. The Catholic Church insists on “equity and wealth distribution” over population management how can there be equity if majority of our people are uneducated and can be fooled by trapo leaders. They can not even fight for social justice, preoccupied as they are with daily survival. Granting that a well-meaning, honest government can be installed, it would be hard-pressed to provide education to an extremely huge population– expected to double in 44 years — so that we are trapped in a chicken-and-egg vicious cycle of which comes first, education or a slowdown in population growth?

    Population management is an imperative and a must for policy-makers, planners, and implementors. Population explosion violates not only “carrying capacity” of land, food, air, water supply but also the “caring capacity” of governments, institutions, and social units in terms of resources and personnel to give care. Overpopulation erodes “human dignity” as a central teaching of the Church as humans turn into savages competing for scarce resources in a dog-eat-dog world. Overpopulation renders “peace and goodwill among men” perpetually unreachable as “enmity among men” increases with the tempo of cut-throat competition.

    A lesson for our leaders, policy-makers, planners is how they communicate population management to all stakeholders, including the Church and pro-life advocates. Masyado verbatim at walang pagsasala ang pagkopya ng birth control programs from other countries. Pati title na “reproductive health care” ay kopyang-kopyang sa USAID. Halatang hao-ciao at kuilang sa paglilimi. Pwede naman sanang nakafocus on “expansion of family care choices” or something related to “parenting” — bakit ini-insist ang incendiary term na “Reproductive Health Care” How can a bill on reproduction include a provision on abortion when abortion is the perfect opposite of reproduction??

    Please, legislators, change that bill substantively, including its title, without giving up on the essential objectives of population management.

  2. 2

    Alice said,

    “our democracy is not a theocracy.”

    Opposition to the RH bill is often misconstrued as merely faith-based and irrational, without any basis in reasoned discoursed on facts.

    Contrast this with the cogent arguments of two intellectuals whose arguments do not even mention one biblical or church pronouncement but only legal, moral, demographic, economic, medical reasons: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/talkofthetown/view/20080816-155092/Church-reply-to-reproductive-health-bill-facts-fallacies

    Even Fr. Greg Gaston only gave data: http://www.rcam.org/RH_Bill/MISCONCEPTIONS_CLARRIFICATIONS_FR_GREG_GASTON.doc

    Please help stop the spread of falsehood and baseless fears of becoming church-run when people oppose the RH bill. Whatever these individuals wrote could have been written by atheists or agnostics, Muslims or protestants, since they merely use secular reason. And these reasons when adopted by the State are for the good of a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional populace.

    Please see more economic and demographic reasons here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/21622530/Demographic-Economic-Historical-Evidence-vs-RH-Bill

  3. 3

    Fierce said,

    Alice,

    i went through all the documents you’ve mentioned.

    these documents have references to
    papal encyclicals
    “rcam” — roman catholic archdiocese of manila
    CBCP episcopal commission on family and life
    economics department of UAAP — an institution of ultra-conservative Opus Dei!

    Please cite more credible mainstream sources, such as UN agencies, or universities in the world’s Top 200.

    The Catholic Church is out-of-touch in population management. There is neither anchoring on the larger framework of Sustainable Development nor even mention of the science of demography. The Church muddles the discourse with polemical language such as “anti-life” and “pro-life.” The Church reduces the discourse to abortifacient contraception and abortion, the latter being unacceptable to most Filipinos.

    The two-child ‘policy’ is merely indicative — not coercive or prescriptive like in China. You can interview most Filipino women on the street and they usually tell you that they have two more children than they wanted.

    In the absence of full information, women and men do not have full control over the number of children they actually raise. Such dearth of information becomes worse the lower you go down the economic ladder, to the D&E socio-economic classes, because majority of these people do not have much education, and not many tools to acquire and to internally process information.

    It is the duty of the State to provide the full range of information to all its citizens. The Church has no track record of informing the people well (20-minute homilies at Mass, and three-hour seminars on family life prior to Church weddings, i know as a former parish worker, this is not the empowering liberating education that the Church gloats about.)

    • 4

      Bartholomew Tan said,

      Eh, you consider the sodomite-coddling baby-killing gun-grabbing U.N. to be more credible than the encyclicals of the Popes!!

      Sorry, but the Catholic Church has the most credibility among all the world’s institutions.

      The U.N. has no credibility at all, and should be abolished.

      i am asking Ninoy Aquino, to do what is best for the Philippines, when you are president, the Philippines should leave the U.N., as the U.N is nothing more than an organization that is promoting an immoral one-world govt that will impose abortion, homosexualism on all nations.

      even now, the UNICEF is actively promoting abortion in many countries.

      the state has no duty to provide anything to anyone, that is not the job of the state, the idea that the state has to provide this , provide that, to people is a socialist communist idea and should be junked.

      the duty of the state is to maintain peace and social harmony ( this is done by punishing the wicked and protecting the God-given rights of the people) and to ensure the nation’s defense from external threats ( like the japanese in ww2) and internal threats ( like the npa ,mnlf, abu sayaf and milf today).

      nothing more, nothing less, people should stop adding to the already burdensome and difficult legitimate roles and duties of govt and the state.

      the rh bill is a socialist statist totalitarian bill.

      it will force taxpayers, including Catholics, to fund the condoms and contraceptives of others.

      it will force employers to pay for and fund the condoms and contraceptives of their employees

      it will expose students to immoral ” sex education” , children don’t need sex education, they don’t even need public education, as public education is only a bottomless pit for taxpayers money.

      public education should be abolished, and private education and home schooling should be promoted instead.

      no to sex education.

      yes to abstinence before marraige.

      and yes, abstinence before marriage is the only thing you need to teach children, as that already prevents stds, sexual promiscuity etc.

      the pro-condom and pro-contraceptive people will always deny the presence of porn in sex education ,but experience in other countries have always proven them either wrong, or intellectually dishonest.

      also, no nation on earth has ever had taxpayer -funded contraception which did not degenerate into taxpayer funded abortion.

      the Philippines will be no exception, to think otherwise is to repeat the mistakes of other countries.

      at present, people can already buy condoms and contraceptives if they want to, so this immoral rh bill is totally uncessary. it will do nothing except force taxpayers to pay for condoms and contraceptives.

      if you want other people to have condoms, then go pay for those condoms with your own money, leave taxpayers money out of it.

      no to socialism!!

      no to the rh bill!!

      Yes to Christianity!!!

      Yes to capitalism!!!

      • 5

        Fierce said,

        Your views are very extreme, with a lot of name-calling and sweeping judgments.

        Please remember that Christianity is a religion of moderation and balance, temperance and tolerance. The all-embracing Jesus was closer to sinners than to the Pharisees.

  4. 6

    Dennis Villarta said,

    THE YOUTH

    When the youth talks , it talks from the heart . Youth has always been an advocate of change . They always set ideals . They always dream for a better place for them in the future . They prefer a whole new breed of leaders who can lead the country on the fence of accountability, transparency and integrity, thereby creating a government that is more effective and more responsive to the needs and welfare of the people . Youths are always in the streets advocating for change and continue to hope for the better . They have been thirst for a very long time for an honest governance , the old may have lost hope for the philippines but the youth never cease of hoping and even fighting for it . Today , they have seen those ideals and hope in the person of Noynoy , and as we can observed they are trying to be visible , they are trying to make their votes be counted and they are grabbing every possible chance to do something through voting the right candidate that for their believe has bigger possibilities to make a better future for them and to the country.

    For me , whatever the youth wants , I will strongly support them , because they are the ones who owns the resources we have today and they are the ones who will live and nourish this country after us . With this , I will support what they wish for , and that is Noynoy and Mar .

  5. 7

    palcionline said,

    The Reproductive Health Bill is very controversial. We need study it’s content in depth because it is very obvious that it was just a copy of the bills from other countries. What we need is a bill that will truly help the Filipinos to rise from their poverty & ignorance. Education is the answer to this!

  6. 8

    noypipol said,

    Thank you for your comments. While we appreciate and encourage healthy discussion, please be reminded to keep rhetoric respectful. Outrageous and offensive comments will not be tolerated.

    Maraming salamat sa inyong pag-uugnay.

  7. 9

    one1more2time3 said,

    I recommend – change fast! if you continue like this you gonna have 150 million people in about 8 years. good luck! you think, today the rice is a problem, escalating prices and problems to import it? well, in 8 years you won’t have enough drinking water. that has to be imported, of course it will come with a price tag! I am afraid that might be the start of an unwanted population control – lots of people will die. and this is only the water issue. there is a lot more – let’s not talk about trash, pollution, traffic, non-education, crime… it looks like fun.

  8. 10

    Rob Leo said,

    I am closely watching how presidential candidates will answer different issues. Unfortunately, among the top candidates for presidency, there ar few who are truly pro-life-following the pro-life movement definition. If I will have a choice, I will prefer a true-blue pro-life candidate. But I do not have a choice. Who among them will be a truly pro-life?

    My best wish is that the winning candidate will at least prioritize on – natural family planning as birth control method in relation to the “population issue” while providing all the other options.

    • 11

      Fierce said,

      You have a very narrow definition of “pro-life”. So those who use artificial methods are “anti-life”? That is a very judgmental attitude that can come only from modern Pharisees.

      Noynoy’s position on population management is very clear. The State is duty-bound to provide the whole range of information, from A to Z.

      In terms of actual use, the State cannot dictate anything, because the choice is up to “conscience” of couples — consistent with the 1987 Constitution and the position of the Church. No one should pry into the bedroom behavior of ctiizens — not the State, not the Church, not the Mass Media etc.

    • 12

      noypipol said,

      Hi Rob,

      Excellent point! Some candidates are being pretty mum and don’t really respond to the issue head-on.

      But based on Senator Aquino’s statements — and he’s been constant about this, as he is with everything he says and stands for — the point of the RH Bill is precisely to provide all other options. Natural family planning is among them. He has also asserted that whatever family planning method you choose, it’s your choice, based on your conscience. The state will not interfere with this, and neither should the Church (although they are certainly more than welcome to teach Christian methods). Ignorance cannot lead to informed decisions.

      Think of the RH Bill as a responsible parenthood bill🙂


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