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Friday, March 11, 2011

The Ayala Alabang Ordinance: Better than the RH Bill!

Better than the RH bill
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison
 (The Philippine Star)
Updated March 07, 2011 12:00 AM

In the government hierarchy, it does not necessarily follow that those higher in rank are brighter, more sensible, more competent and qualified than those occupying lower (or lowly) positions especially the elected ones. Some Barangay councilors may deserve to be in Congress much more than some of those now sitting there who may really be fit for the Barangay council position only. Usually, this is shown by the products of their job as legislators.

This truism comes to mind especially in the light of an ordinance recently passed by the Barangay Council of Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa, briefly and aptly titled “Protection of the Unborn Child Ordinance of 2011”. Between this ordinance and the proposed HB 4244 otherwise known as an “Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development and for Other Purposes” introduced by 91 members of the Lower House, the ordinance is undoubtedly much better as it is more based on reason and for the sake of the common good.

There are two subjects common to both the ordinance and the RH bill: the use of contraceptives and sex education in schools. It is readily noticeable that the provisions of the ordinance regarding these subjects are not only in accordance with the Constitution. They also protect the people from possible damage or injury to their health and from danger to their very lives and the life of the unborn from moment of conception.

It may be true that hormonal contraceptives or pills and the IUDs primarily work to prevent conception, the beginning of a new life or the fertilization of the egg to form a human embryo. But medical science has also proven that these contraceptives “render a mother’s womb hostile to the embryo”. Hence when women constantly resort to contraceptives to prevent pregnancies for family planning purposes, then later on stop using them and decide to have a baby, the fertilized egg or human embryo “will be unable to implant itself in the wall of the mothers’ womb thereby terminating the biological development of the fertilized egg” which in effect is also abortion. Moreover, it has also been shown that women in other countries who use contraceptives have incurred various sicknesses including cancer.

On the other hand, the widespread use of condoms has resulted in more HIV/Aids cases as shown by the Thailand experience. Condoms therefore do not ensure protection from HIV/AIDS to those who are using them allegedly for safe and satisfying sex. In fact it has also been indisputably shown that the HIV/AIDS virus is much smaller than and thus can still penetrate the condom holes.

Given these well established facts about the dangers of using hormonal contraceptives, IUDs injectables and condoms, the Ayala Alabang Council decided to pass that ordinance which, bans the sale of these items within its jurisdiction without doctors’ prescription. It also requires pharmacies to take note of the customer’s contact details when buying contraceptives. The regulation of the sale of these items and the measures taken by the Ayala Alabang Council are really necessary to protect the life of the unborn and promote the health of the citizens as mandated by our Constitution.

It is wrong to argue that contraceptives in general are neither outlawed nor regulated by the government and therefore it is illegal to require any person to secure prescription for contraceptives first before any establishment could sell the products. While these products are not really outlawed by the government and are openly marketed, their sale should be regulated because of the many dangers they pose on the life of the unborn and the health of the mother. In fact there is already an existing law (R.A. 5921) requiring doctors’ prescription for the purchase of these products which, like many other laws, are not being properly and fully implemented. Thus the ordinance is just a way of requiring the people in their village to comply with said law. Other Barangays in the country should even emulate the move taken by the Ayala Alabang Council.

Apparently the critics of the ordinance are the advocates of the RH bill which is actually aimed at making the State the principal if not the lone provider of these dangerous contraceptives to the public. They are raising a howl now because the ordinance will somehow derail this RH bill agenda.

One of their arguments against the ordinance is that the council is using coercion to sabotage women’s efforts to prevent pregnancy. This is wrong. It is only regulating the sale of the contraceptives by requiring doctor’s prescription. In fact it is actually assisting women to make an “informed choice” by seeking the doctors’ advice on the use of contraceptives. The advocates themselves repeatedly insist that one of the purposes of the RH bill is to enable women to make an informed choice on the use of contraceptives. Hence there is no reason for them to object to this ordinance as it really enables women to make such informed choice through the doctors’ advice and prescription.

Another argument of the critics is that by requiring contact details of the customers when buying contraceptives, the ordinance violates their right to privacy and the doctor-patient confidentiality. These rights however are not absolute and may yield to superior rights promoting the public interest and general welfare. As previously shown contraceptives may result in the killing of an unborn child or may endanger the health of people in the community. Hence individuals cannot invoke their right to privacy as against this more superior right. Individuals cannot use the privacy of their bedrooms to commit acts against the law and the common good.

There is also nothing wrong with the provision of the ordinance prohibiting public and private educational institutions from implementing compulsory sex education without prior consultation and written permission from the parents or guardians of minors. Experience in other countries, particularly in the US, shows that this kind of sex education has led to premarital sex and unwanted pregnancies that resulted in more abortions. The ordinance is just trying to prevent this situation from happening here. It is just also upholding the Constitutional provision giving the primary right and duty to parents in the rearing and education of their children.

It can thus be said that this ordinance is better than the RH bill.

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