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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In defense of the Ayala Alabang ordinance

Forwarded from  Ricky Presa and BAA St. James Parish ProLife Council

                                                                                                          April 8, 2011


1.       First of all, I believe any legislation on the important matters of ‘reproductive health, responsible parenthood,  population and development’  must stand squarely on the values and principles of the Filipino people and on current realities and needs. I do not favour legislation on the basis of any particular religious doctrine despite media’s current depiction of the ongoing debate as a case of the ‘Catholic Church imposing its doctrine on other people’. I believe we need to stand solidly on basic laws,  values and principles which all Filipinos hold dear regardless of religion or ethnic origin. These are the laws, values and principles articulated in our present Philippine Constitution.

2.    I do not deny the need for public education and access to reproductive health services but I favour only such programs and remedies consistent with our Constitution and existing laws.  I deny the myth of population control as critical to national development because modern scientific studies have already debunked this economic theory and  the elimination of corruption, the practice of good leadership and governance ( “ang daang matuwid” )  are identified now as more important concerns in enhancing development.  I also don’t buy the advocacy of absolute freedom or choice for women with respect to their bodies because our Constitution balances this freedom with respect and equal protection for “the life of the unborn from conception” unlike the laws of other lands which legalize abortion.

3.       What key Constitutional provision anchors my ProLife advocacy? 

Section 12 Article 2 Declaration of Principles and State Policies says “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. ” Although I had believed our Constitution was anti-abortion, I didn’t fully realize our Constitution had this clear and strong declaration in defense of the unborn child.

4.      Our Constitution defines life as beginning “from conception”, i.e.,  at fertilization when the egg and the sperm combine to form a new life, a new human being.  Because of this clear declaration, the State must not allow, promote or the use any drug or device which endangers much less kill the life of the unborn child. Any drug, device or method which is abortive or an abortifacient is a direct violation of our Constitutional principle on life. This Constitutional provision is the primary reason Barangay Ayala Alabang has banned the sale,  distribution or use of HORMONAL DRUGS and the IUD’s because they are abortifacients. 

5.      Are HORMONAL DRUGS  and the IUD’s really abortifacients?

Medical and scientific literature explain that hormonal drugs and the IUD’s work in a similar way. The American Pregnancy Association website says “Hormonal methods work in one of three ways: 1) preventing a woman's ovaries from releasing an egg each month; 2) causing the cervical mucus to thicken making it harder for sperm to reach and penetrate the egg; and 3) thinning the lining of the uterus which reduces the likelihood that a fertilized egg will implant in the uterus wall.

The US National Library of Medicines and National Institutes of Health say: “Combinations of estrogen and progestin work by preventing ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries). They also change the lining of the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy from developing and change the mucus at the cervix (opening of the uterus) to prevent sperm (male reproductive cells) from entering. Oral contraceptives are a very effective method of birth control.”

The American Pregnancy Association says this about IUD’s: “The IUD does not stop the sperm from entering into the uterus, but rather it changes cervical mucus decreasing the probability of fertilization and it changes the lining of the uterus preventing implantation should fertilization occur.”

In simple language, in case fertilization occurs or human life is formed ( sometimes technically referred to as ‘breakthrough ovulation’ ), hormonal drugs and the IUD create an abortive environment for the embryo and thus, prevent pregnancy from continuing. So many well-intentioned people do not realize the foregoing facts either because like me, they knew and experienced  these drugs or devices as effective birth control means and they were not known  as abortive.

By what authority does our Barangay ban hormonal drugs and the IUD? Isn’t the Philippine FDA the only authorized ‘classifier’ of drugs in the country and the only entity that can ban certain drugs?

Many people in our country including eminent doctors and lawyers do not fully realize the implications of what they know as separate facts in their own fields of knowledge. The first fact is this strong principle “ to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception” written in our present Constitution, the highest law and the foundation of all laws, acts and regulations in the land. The second fact is the preponderance of medical and scientific literature that hormonal drugs and the IUD’s are clear and fatal threats to the unborn child. In this so serious and grave issue of life and not even just of health of the mother and the unborn child, I commend  Barangay Ayala Alabang for  this unprecedented and bold step of banning hormonal drugs and the IUD as contraceptives in its territory by authority of the Philippine Constitution.  I understand  the Barangay is fully authorized to enact legislation for the general welfare of its constituents under the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. 7160) despite the negligence, incapacity or inability of the duly delegated government entity to do so.

I have realized that abortifacient drugs and devices are not banned in the USA and so many other countries because their Constitution and laws do not protect the life of the unborn child and actually condone abortion. In a sense, our country is blest by our Constitution which has been promulgated with the “aid of Almighty God” ( this phrase is stated explicitly in the Preamble of our Constitution unlike the Constitution of the USA and many other countries which do not even acknowledge God much less seek His help) that we are protected against killing our unborn babies. Although we encourage and respect the rights of multinational pharmaceutical forms to do business and sell their drugs here, we nonetheless believe that they should adhere strictly to our principles and laws especially regarding the life of our unborn.

7.      Has the BAA Ordinance banned  contraceptives which are non-abortive?

Contrary to the misguided impressions of some, the BAA Ordinance does not ban non-abortifacient contraceptives in the barangay. An existing law RA 5921 ( called the Pharmacy Law ) enacted in 1969 says under Section 37 that drugs/devices “preventing conception” require “proper description by a duly licensed physician”. This law is still in effect. The BAA Ordinance has incited outrage because it has reminded people about the law. Although Catholic teaching views condom usage as “not moral”, condoms are actually classified as ‘barrier birth control methods’ and are non-abortive because their action is to prevent conception. We acknowledge that condoms can also protect against STD and AIDS. However, we also note studies showing that indiscriminate and unregulated distribution of condoms have actually contributed to  increase in HIV and AIDS. I agree our people especially the poor should be educated on the various methods for birth control so they can plan their families properly. Other family planning methods which are non-abortifacient include abstinence, other barrier drugs like the diaphgram and spermicides, natural family planning, withdrawal and sterilization. 

8.       Why do I oppose mandatory sex education in the RH Bill and what sex education do I advocate?

In the first place, our Constitution upholds the “the natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character” (Section 12 Article 2 ).  The sex education modules used in our country which have been imported from international modules teach our youth different values about the meaning of sex and  have degraded the sanctity of family life and the institution of marriage. This lack of moral values in sex education has formed the foundations of the abortion movement in the US and has significantly contributed to the gradual breakdown of the institutions of marriage and family life, the proliferation of divorce and broken marriages so prevalent and widely accepted in the US and other westernsocieties.  I strongly advocate sex education that is rooted on our Filipino moral values and which will strengthen the institution of marriage and family life as articulated in our Constitution.  Article 15 ( The Family ) of our Constitution says: “Section 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.  Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. “


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