Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Don't be ignorant!
"Ignorance is boring," so says a National Geographic shirt. A few months ago, I wrote a piece on why the RH bill is not good for Filipinos, and since that article came out already in The You, Inc. Chronicles, a newsletter for women young professionals, I can now share it here.
When ignorance becomes deadly
Ever heard of the term “reproductive rights”? It sounds very nice, doesn’t it? In fact, it is a very nice concept, on the condition that by “nice” you mean “foolish” as the word meant in Old English.
Why is that? “Reproductive rights” basically points to the right to do anything with one’s fertility and body because it is one’s own. A woman with reproductive rights can kill her unborn child without being called a murderer. A husband with reproductive rights can get a vasectomy without informing his wife. A teenager with reproductive rights can have an IUD inserted without telling her parents. The big deal is, it’s their body; let them do with it as they please.
The Reproductive Health Bill, now known as the “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011,” stems from this concept of reproductive rights. Don’t be fooled by the “Responsible Parenthood” in the title; if anything, this bill promotes irresponsible parenthood. Why?
1. It encourages married couples to forget how their body works and just use the contraceptives the government will give for free. “Modern” (read: artificial) family planning methods are to be considered “essential medicines” (Sec. 10) bought using taxpayer’s money, which will amount to about 3 billion pesos. Besides that, the bill provides a plan to integrate an artificial family planning component in the government’s “anti-poverty programs” (Sec. 12), so, after our country spends 3B, we can be sure we’ll have fewer folks under the poverty line. (How do you lessen poverty? The RH bill answer is: Cut down on poor people!)
2. It takes away the parent’s responsibility to teach their children about love, sex and marriage. Mandatory sex education programs (Sec. 16) as dictated by the government will be implemented in schools. If you disagree with any of the lessons in it, you cannot bring your children to another school because all schools will use the same government-issued sex ed manual. What could these lessons be? One list provided in the sex ed manual clumps “Relihiyon” and “Pakikialam ng Pamilya” under one heading: List of obstacles to rights.
3. It insists upon an ideal family size. The bill esteems two children to be the ideal family size. This number is “neither mandatory nor compulsory,” which makes one wonder what it’s doing in Sec. 20 in the first place.
Not only parents, but every citizen will be affected by the RH bill. Besides the fact that your income tax goes to condoms no one will put to good use, you (Sec. 28):
1. Shall be forced to provide access to the full range of reproductive health care services to your employees, if you are an employer. Never mind if you don’t believe in the use of artificial contraceptives (condoms, injectables, IUDs, patches, emergency contraception, etc.), or the need for surgical sterilization when there are better alternatives. What’s more, legislators are saying the bill is anti-abortion, but the term “reproductive health,” as feminist and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defines it, “includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” If this bill gets passed, what’s to stop pro-abortion groups from getting “safe” abortion included in the law? After all, it is part of reproductive healthcare. Employers then will not only be providing rubber balloons, but will also be participating in the murder of innocent people.
2. Shall not be allowed to refuse a patient his reproductive healthcare services on account of religion, if you are a healthcare service provider. If a kid asks you for a gun, you don’t refer him to someone else if you don’t believe that guns are the solution. But this bill will make you refer someone to another healthcare service provider if you don’t provide reproductive healthcare. Whatever happened to helping people find better alternatives? Any healthcare service provider will know of more health-friendly and environment-friendly alternatives to stroke-inducing, breast cancer-causing, ecosystem-disrupting oral contraceptive pills.
3. Shall not be allowed to criticize the bill. It says “malicious disinformation” but that can easily mean “anything that rubs the bill the wrong way.” Whoever heard of getting jailed for protesting to something written on a piece of paper?
There are people who may say that the RH bill has some good provisions like maternity and good pre-natal care. Those provisions deserve to be in a bill of their own, not lumped together with provisions on birth control, which is—to say the least—ironic. How can a piece of legislation focus on providing good maternal healthcare when it’s already so bent on not having to handle cases of pregnancy in the first place?
Going back to reproductive rights—while rights are good and wonderful, they go hand in hand with responsibility. That means our freedom to do what we want with our fertility and body ends where the rights of others begin. What’s wrong with the so-called reproductive rights is it oversteps a child’s right to be born, a parent’s right to educate and guide the children, and a husband’s right to know about (and be involved in) his wife’s fertility concerns, and vice versa. What’s wrong with this particular RH bill, in addition to those three already mentioned, is that it also oversteps every citizen’s freedom to practice his religion, to speak up against something he believes is wrong, and to choose without having to hear all that hogwash about the convenience of contraceptives and the need for instant self-gratification.
Photos of the UP Against RH silent protest courtesy of Sunnyday. Isn't it nice to see the youth (even just a few of them!) standing up for the truth? :-)