Thursday, June 2, 2011
BENJAMIN G. DEFENSOR
OUR efforts as a developing nation to ape our supposed betters in the developed world are a major aspect of the furor over the Reproductive Health Bill. The RH Bill is touted to be a major economic step towards attaining the status of a developed nation. Economics is a painful subject for us for we are now considered one of the sick nations of Asia after being one of the leading would-be tigers just a few decades back. Our dismal science is supposed to be the result of our social naiveté.
In the pageantry of the Royal Wedding spectacular of Prince William of Britain and Kate Middleton, we were one of the billions who watched from all over the world who didn’t care, didn’t know or didn’t mind that the whole show was just formalizing what was already an on-going arrangement. Time magazine reported, “Nuptials in developed nations almost always represent an accommodation between tradition and society as it really is—as this one did. The bride and groom had lived together for just over four years before marching
up the aisle.”
Time also added that some 50 per cent of British marriages end in divorce. And just to underscore how far behind we are from the social norms of the world, we and Malta still have to pass divorce law although our legally married couples may decide to separate or have their union annulled. (This column was written just before the people of Malta voted for divorce - CAP.)
As the pro-choice (to have children or not) supporters of the RH Bill insist, couples must have to choice to use contraceptives or not to limit their families while the pro-life opponents of the bill insist that contraception is immoral and cite the position of the Church on the matter. While indeed, there might be valid reasons for Catholic couples, at least, to limit their families (they call this “responsible parenthood”) they may do this only through natural family planning methods.
The RH Bill targets those new couples and those who are still to get married. Because by and large, we already have the “unwanted children” that bothers our economic managers. These are the problem we have to solve.
The bigger problem we have today, are the young who want to enjoy the pleasures of their reproductive system without being ready to be responsible for the outcome. The RH Bill may just abet perversion of reproductive “health.”
If the Church is against contraception in marriage, it is certainly against it outside marriage. The problem is not more children from marriage but children from outside marriage, which is either fornication or adultery.
Let us take a look at some of the social numbers of the United States and the United Kingdom who many among us consider our social betters.
The US National Center for Health Statistics say that in 2007, in the US 39.7 per cent of all births are to unmarried women; in 2000, 41 per cent of first births are by unmarried women to cohabiting partners. In the same year the US Census Bureau said about two-fifths of children are expected to live in a cohabiting household at some point.
In 2006, the US Census Bureau also reported nearly 13 million unmarried parents lived with their children.
Among them, more than 80 per cent were unmarried mothers. In the same year, the percentage of American households headed by unmarried parents was nearly double the percentage in 1970.
Nearly 40 per cent of opposite-sex, unmarried American households include children, the US Bureau of Census reported in 2007.
In the United Kingdom, cohabiting couples with or without children are the fastest-growing UK family type, says the Office for national Statistics (ONS). This is now one less with the marriage of William and Kate. The ONS study found the number of cohabiting families increased by 65 percent in the10 years up to 2006. A focus-on-families study found cohabiting families increased in the decade up to 2006 from1.4 million 2.3 million, while the number of married families fell to12.1 million. The study said family types varied according to age, with young people more likely to cohabit with a partner.
Married couples with or without children are still the biggest family group accounting for 71 per cent of the UK’ 17.1 million families. The rest are cohabiting or have other arrangements.
Younger people were more likely to cohabit, the ONS said with half of cohabiting families in 2001 headed by a person under 35.
Some 21 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 between 2001 and 2003 had lived with a partner before they were 25, the study showed.
These results of studies show the social situation of the two most advanced nations of the world. Our social scientists need to look at these and see if this is a situation we would like for our country.
Because the RH Bill, will all its implications on the question of contraception on young and unmarried people, will be the best way to achieve it. The proponents of the RH Bill harp on the fact that a special commission of the Vatican made a study of contraception at the time of Vatican II favored it However, Pope Paul VI disregarded its findings and instead issued the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which ruled contraception as immoral. All the Popes following him agreed.
From what is happening in the leading developed nations, contraception may be a threat to the institution of marriage as Pope Benedict warned in his encyclical, Verbum Domini, quoted here last week:
“Fidelity to God’s word leads us to point out that nowadays this institution is in many ways under attack from the current (contraceptive) mentality. In the face of widespread confusion in the sphere of affectivity, and the rise of ways of thinking which trivialize the human body and sexual differentiation, the word of God re-affirms the original goodness of the human being, created as man and woman and called to a love which is faithful, reciprocal and trustful. (underscoring supplied).”
Lingayen-Dagupan Bishop Socrates Villegas has appealed to the Catholic faithful “to return to the voice of conscience. Citing a lesson from Paul VI, he said that the cause of poverty, which is the justification for contraception, was corruption of the soul and of society. As Humanae Vitae suggested, ‘Contraception adds to the moral corruption of our society and family.’ ”
Rep. Edcel Lagman, a proponent of the RH Bill, says Humanae Vitae is not cloaked with infallibility. But in matters of faith and morals, whose position will Filipino Catholics take? That of Rep. Lagman, a politician, or that of Bishop Villegas, Catholic leader? Economics or morality?