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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"It really looks like the Congressional locomotive is now being used to speed up (the RH Bill's) passage."

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) 
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) 
Updated January 17, 2011 12:00 AM

Like it or not, most of the members of Congress do not observe regular office hours. Nor do they report for work regularly every working day. Only their lowly staff members punch time cards and report for work regularly. It is accepted and common knowledge that plenary sessions or committee hearings are often delayed or postponed for failure to muster a quorum. Hence it comes as something odd and a big surprise to learn that the Congressional Committee hearing the RH bill is working and meeting even on a Sunday!

I tried to contain my surprise by thinking that maybe we just have a more conscientious and dedicated bunch of legislators now. But when I further learned that those attending the hearing are mostly pro-RH bill advocates, my surprise turned into suspicion and alarm. At the risk of being branded a paranoid, I really cannot help but conclude that there is an attempt to pass off this Sunday gathering as part of the required number of public hearings before the bill is endorsed to the entire House for deliberation. It really looks like the Congressional locomotive is now being used to speed up its passage.

The bill is becoming more controversial precisely because its sponsors apparently have no intention to consider and remove its objectionable portions by using all sorts of tactics to insure its passage. Lately, they have even used (or plagiarized?) the phrase “responsible parenthood” as part of its title. Hence it is now also known as the “responsible parenthood” bill. Obviously this is an attempt to appease Church people.

Indeed “responsible parenthood” is a phrase that has long been used by the Church in her apostolate on family life. The meaning of this phrase as part of the Church teaching has already been clearly set forth by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) citing the Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, as follows:

“The profound link between the conjugal union and the gift of life gives married couples a vocation to give life, as long as they can responsibly care for the children they beget. Hence responsible parenthood calls for an understanding of the reproductive processes of the spouses’ bodies, including the women’s fertility cycle. And as with any passion (anger, fear, love for food, desire for more etc.), the sexual drive should be placed under control of the intellect and the will, through the very exercise of virtues rendering the sexual faculties truly and exclusively expressive of conjugal love and the self-giving of persons.

Responsible parenthood further involves the decision either (1) to generously raise a numerous family if the couple is capable of doing so, or (2) if there are more serious reasons (health, economic, social, psychological, etc) not to have another child for the time being or indefinitely.

Thus, responsible parenthood has nothing to do with encouraging individuals to use contraceptives as what reproductive health programs do. The sexual union is appropriate only within the context of marital love, which must always be faithful, permanent, and exclusive between one man and one woman who is open to the gift of new life.

Responsible parenthood also has nothing to do with encouraging or coercing couples, whether directly or indirectly to have only one or two children. It is not a population control program. Neither the government nor the Church may tell couples how many children to have, for the decision to have either a small or a large family rests on the couple themselves”.

Unless it has already been substantially changed, the main features of the RH bill as originally conceived and worded by its authors and advocates particularly the foreign funded Philippine Legislative Council on Population Development (PLCPD), are diametrically opposed to this real concept of “responsible parenthood” as originally conceived by the Church.

The bill appropriates millions or even billions of public funds to finance the purchase of contraceptives and procurement of other artificial devices so that couples can use them to have “safe and satisfying sex”; safe in the sense that one can engage in it without getting pregnant and satisfying in the sense that one can enjoy it because of lack of fear of having a baby. In other words, the real purpose of the bill is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and not to promote responsible parenthood. Responsible parenthood in its true sense does not contemplate the use of artificial contraceptives.

Of course the bill admittedly gives couples the freedom to choose or not to choose these contraceptives and devices. But since they are made available without any cost or inconvenience, hardship and sacrifice, couples will naturally choose them. So what is actually “free” here is not the choice but the artificial contraceptives and devices.

Another deception in the bill is that it is supposedly intended to promote reproductive health; to prevent the increasing death rate of mother and/or child during birth or immediately thereafter. In effect, it considers pregnancy as a disease that should be prevented instead of improving the medical services available to mother and child; instead of simply providing more modern facilities for maternal health and child care. The DOH can do this even without any enabling Act. Indeed the billion peso public funds intended for the purchase of contraceptives and devices can be put to better use for these purposes.

The bill is also inconsistent with the real concept of responsible parenthood because it provides incentives to couples to have only one or two children. This is indirect coercion intended to control our population at a time when our total fertility rate is already declining.

The advocates and sponsors of this bill should therefore refrain from using “responsible parenthood” to describe the bill if its contents are substantially the same. Otherwise it will be a grand deception that will only enrich the manufacturers of these artificial contraceptives and promote the agenda of first world countries to maintain the status quo by keeping us a third world and under-developed country so that they can continue to exploit our human and natural resources. And if our leaders and legislators fall for this grand deception, then it is time…to pray harder that heaven help our country.

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