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Friday, December 3, 2010

Determining the truth through surveys

Determining the truth through surveys
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison
December 03, 2010 12:00 A.M.

We have lately seen protesting crowds of bus and tricycle drivers and operators who have gone to the streets and public places, blocked traffic and caused so much inconvenience to a lot of people. Obviously 6 or 7 or 8 out of 10 of them believe that it is their right to earn a living by hook or by crook, so they think the authorities have no power to prevent them from doing so. To them the majority determines what is legal or not. Undoubtedly this kind of mentality leads to anarchy and chaos.

Without noticing it, there is now a dangerous tendency to determine not only legal, but also moral issues, or what is right and what is wrong, through popularity surveys. Playing the numbers game to decide legal or moral issues is getting to be an accepted norm in our democratic society. The current view is that if 6, 7 or 8 out of 10 people surveyed think that a certain proposition is true and correct, or is legal, then that proposition should be accepted and adopted. If carried to the extremes, it means that if the same number of people or all of them believe that two plus two equals five then it should be accepted as true and correct.

Absurd as this method of convincing people sounds and looks, it is now being used as a means to influence Congress to pass the RH bill. A survey has now come out showing that almost 80 percent of 1,200 respondents favor its passage. Even the stand of the town mayors favoring the bill has been aired. Obviously they are all aimed at pressing our legislators to pass it. This is not only absurd but extremely dangerous.

In the first place, according to the surveyors, these respondents have only heard of, read or watched something about the bill. In other words, they are only aware of the bill but do not fully understand it or comprehend its far reaching implications in their lives.

These respondents do not really grasp that while the bill itself and its proponents repeatedly deny that it will legalize abortion, or expressly provides that “abortion is not included as a family planning method” or that “nothing in this act changes the law on abortion as abortion remains a crime and is punishable”, its repeated use of the terms “reproductive health”, “reproductive rights”, “reproductive health rights”, “reproductive health care”, “reproductive health services” and “sexual rights”, unmistakably implies that it “will lead towards legalization of abortion in the Philippines and state funded anti-natalist policies”. This is because, as the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the largest advocacy groups on reproductive rights says, “At the heart of reproductive rights is the principle that a woman has the right to decide whether and when to have a child. When faced with an unwanted pregnancy, only she can decide whether she will carry the pregnancy to term. Governments are bound to respect this basic human right by ensuring that women have access to the full range of quality reproductive services, including abortion”. Besides, the bill also cites in its Explanatory Note, several international population conferences and organizations whose “underlying philosophy, framework and terminology have the intention of encouraging all countries to remove legal barriers on abortion”. Specifically they are the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The respondents to the survey also fail to see that while the bill aims to “provide accurate information and education and counseling on the full range of legal and medically safe family planning methods” and requires the State “to guarantee universal access to medically-safe, legal reproductive health care services, methods, devices and relevant information”, these methods and devices, include Oral Contraceptive Pill (the Pill), Intrauterine devices (IUD) and the so called “emergency contraceptive”. There is nothing however medically safe in these birth control products. They prevent conception or implantation of the embryo in the uterus and thereby cause the unborn child’s life to end. Even pro-choice literature confirms this, particularly the Alan Guttmacher Institute research report which says that “all hormonal contraceptive drugs and devices including emergency contraceptives also may prevent pregnancy either by preventing fertilization by blocking the sperm and egg from uniting or by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining. Therefore these contraceptives really have abortifacient capacity. But to justify the use of these contraceptives, the author of the bill (HB 17) says that it “protects the life of the unborn from implantation” which is blatantly contrary to the Constitutional mandate that the State shall protect the life of the unborn from conception (Position Paper of Alliance for Family).

The respondents to the survey and even the league of town mayors and P-Noy himself also fail to grasp the real meaning of “responsible parenthood” or “family planning” which the bill uses as a disguise to its ultimate purpose of advancing a two-child policy aside from promoting artificial contraceptives by the use of State funds. Responsible parenthood does not mean “limited parenthood or not having children because if there are no children, there is no parenthood. It has something to do with the “responsible transmission of life”. Moreover if one wants to avoid the responsibilities of one’s acts, he cannot be called responsible”. Of course the couple may wish to space the births of their children for just reasons. But it is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness (Faith Seeking Understanding II p 405). The bill on the other hand would give women the right to an informed choice to use contraceptives if she feels like having satisfying sex but does not want to be pregnant. This is not responsible parenthood.

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