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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The RH BIll: Reading between the lines

Interesting, but read with caution. CAP.

The RH Bill: Reading between the lines

READ NOW By J. Vincent Sarabia Ong (The Philippine Star)
Updated November 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Due to the Damaso issue, the Reproductive Health Bill has been a debate among public personalities, between people in the rigid church and the loud media. And this is why I have only written about it now. I had to wait for things to settle down. Private individuals like you and me should ultimately be the ones concerned about the issue. It is the man on the street who will get affected by any law implemented by our government, and not just the RH bill.

Yet, when we take our stand and finally say something, the words that we will espouse must be intelligent rather than emotional. We have to be informed about what we fight for. Otherwise, all our rallying will be a waste of time.

And this is why in my search for truth, I found World Youth Alliance (WYA), an international non-profit organization that promotes and defends the dignity of man according to UN standards. They are one of many groups who have intelligently scrutinized the RH bill according to their mission. Ironically, I interviewed an American Yale lawyer Christian Huebner, who was sent from New York by WYA to read the actual bill, to read and explain my rights. Although there were points in which we diverged, the dialogue was an enlightening example of how conversation is a powerful tool in dissecting relevant issues in a civilized manner.

As such, I would like you to join in my conversation with Christian last week as a catalyst for you to start thinking about the true reasons that you are against or for the RH bill, other than the opinion of personalities. And as a result, we, hopefully, as a more informed society, can craft laws that actually benefit each person individually.


CHRISTIAN: World Youth Alliance is an international NGO that promotes and defends the dignity of man. We are 11 years old, with offices found in New York, Brussels, Nairobi, Mexico, and Manila.

What exactly is the dignity of man?

Human dignity is that quality all human beings have that makes us worthy of respect.

We started in a UN conference. We questioned a speaker who said that “human rights are the basis of human dignity.” We believe that it is just the opposite. Human dignity is the basis of human rights. Why do you have the right to encourage human welfare other than man’s intrinsic dignity?

Yet, what is the source of this dignity?

The concept of dignity came about after World War II. During the UN meeting, participating nations agreed that there are certain practical ideas about man that all people can agree upon, such as dignity. Yet, the source of it, whether religious, philosophical or cultural, can diverge as long as we agree that man is worthy of respect.

Why is WYA concerned with reproductive health?

Human sexuality is very much part of being human. We are concerned with anything that asserts itself in human sexuality and what human sexuality is in general. So, we are wary if it is seen as a vehicle of socio-economic development, also when it intrudes into human life and human flourishing and a person’s freedom of conscience.

What is freedom of conscience?

It is the idea that to the greatest extent possible, human beings are allowed to live according to their deepest beliefs and convictions. Governments should stop forcing people contrary to their held beliefs. There are few points in the bill that go against this belief.

What is your initial concern with RH bill?

First, that the reason that the country is lagging behind is too many people. It violates the right to make people determine how their families develop. Besides, it rests on bad economic theory that people haven’t seriously believed in 20 years, the lifeboat theory or Malthusian economics belief that our raft is sinking the more people get on.

There is no direct correlation between reproductive health programs and reducing the population. Comparing countries like India or Indonesia with heavy RH intervention to Brazil and Algeria, with little intervention. Economic papers show that there is little to no difference in their population decline.

So, what grows or reduces the population?

It all depends on the desired family size of the people. What would make them smaller than larger? Women’s access to education because it gives opportunity for careers. Then, women choose to have smaller families. Also, in developed countries, kids become expenses because of expected path to success such as investment education. Kids are kept in school longer.

In underdeveloped areas, kids are economically profitable because they are seen to do work. Each child can be a lottery ticket out of poverty. Each is a chance to have another Manny Pacquiao.

What other parts of the bill are you concerned about?

Section 13 focuses on mandatory sex education from grade 5 to 4th year high school for private and public schools. It usurps the parents’ rights and duties as primary educators of their children. No provision for parental involvement in the curriculum or opt their kids out of the class. Also, teachers cannot opt to not teach the class even if it goes against their beliefs.

In the health sector, health care workers are penalized for refusing to provide these services. While, section 18 forces employes to pay for these services. We see it doesn’t make economic sense because it increases employee taxes and makes it expensive to hire people. Section 9 makes contraceptives into essential medicines but completely ignores proper procedures. Lastly, section 15 forces couples to join a family planning seminar to get their marriage license even if it goes against their conscience.

What part of the bill do you agree on?

We support the bill in providing access to skilled birth attendants. It should be highlighted. Maternal mortality is still high. It can be averted and provided with more tangible benefits.

What if people argue that the people cannot make informed choices?

I find it contradictory when people who say, “We are for informed choice but we don’t really trust you people to make the right decisions so we make these incentives to push you to one corner.”

As explained about the poor’s view on children, I see it as evidence of rational behavior in unfortunate circumstances. Sex and love is something so irrational that it is interesting to see patterns of rationality. We should fall into arrogance of presumption due to our wealth and must examine the assumptions behind our decisions.

Any final message?

Please read the bill and find people informed on it and can argue with you on the opposite side of what you believe.

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For feedback, For the website of WYA,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting my article even with caution....