Missing the Point

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 22:24 AJPress

OVER the last ten years, the Philippines’ population has boomed to an additional 15 million.

With a staggering 94 million people, the Philippines holds the dubious distinction of being the 7th most populated country in Asia and 12th in the world.

On August 13, while delivering his usual turno en contra speech against the divisive Reproductive Health (RH) bill, Sen. Vicento Sotto III got emotional.

Sotto, who vowed to continue fighting for the protection of life, recalled how he lost his first son, which he claims was due to the use of contraceptives. It was his son’s 37th death anniversary.

“But now I realize it happened because I have a job to do—to warn people about the dangers of contraceptives. That is my mission now,” he said.

Contraceptives have been used long back in the 60s. It was never in any way a detriment to the society. Since then, contraceptives have given people around the world a mere lifestyle choice.

But as a predominantly Catholic country, the Church deems people who choose this kind of lifestyle as sinners.

Convinced that it is anti-life and family, due to its promotion of artificial contraceptives, the Catholic Church has been adamant about the RH bill and what it stands for.

The endeavor on whether Filipinos are ready or not to embrace what RH bill entails has put President Benigno Aquino III’s administration on a warpath with the church.

Catholic bishops assailed the president, when Aquino recently reiterated his support for the RH bill, during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month.

In his SONA, Aquino drew applause when he endorsed “responsible parenthood” as the answer to the long-standing problems of education in the country.

Like Sen. Sotto, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared their stand against the RH bill, and vowed incessant campaigns to sway its supporters’ position.

“We have to move our people to vigilance and teach more our congressmen about the dangers of the RH bill,” said Bishop Arturo Bastes, member of the CBCP Permanent Council.

An official of CBCP also advised lawmakers to focus on crafting better laws for the country instead of the RH bill.

While its fate rests upon the country’s legislative mill, the controversial RH bill calls the attention of Filipinos to participate and be educated.

The RH bill has been pending in Congress for 14 years, amid strong opposition from the Catholic Church and pro-life groups, which have condemned it as evil and immoral.

Opponents contend that it would promote promiscuity and immorality among young Filipinos, and destroy the values surrounding family.

When approved, the RH bill (or House Bill No. 4244 or An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and For Other Purposes) will require the government to make contraceptives available to the public and provide public information on the full range of family planning options.

Due to the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and teenage pregnancies, RH bill also calls for the introduction of reproductive health and sexuality classes for pre-teens.

Also among the many principles surrounding the proposed bill are gender equality and women empowerment as central elements of reproductive health and population development; coordination and integration of policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor; and freedom of choice, as guaranteed by the state.

The RH bill will still recognize abortion as illegal and punishable by law. But the government will ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner.

The enactment of the RH bill is long overdue because it encloses a basic universal human right — one that unfortunately, remains elusive especially to the poor.

What the RH bill simply provides is an option. This option comes with information and services, to help Filipino families better survive through these challenging times.

Young people can be exposed to a wide range of dogma and attitudes, in relation to sex and sexuality. These sometimes appear incongruous and confusing.

It is important to remember that part of exploring and understanding cultural, religious and moral views is finding out that you can choose your own step at the right direction.

Not complying with the RH bill’s suggestions is not illegal. It is not mandatory.

It is not the absolute solution to our country’s problems either. It’s only a law, after all — not a miracle.


Source: http://www.asianjournal.com/editorial/5-editorial/16992-missing-the-point.html


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