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Friday, December 9, 2011

The Varsitarian Editorial on the misunderstood PMA position paper

For more information on the PMA position that is referenced here, please read this post: 
Setting the record straight on the Philippine Medical Association's stance on the RH Bill

The Varsitarian, October 4, 2011

WHILE staunch supporters of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill naively rejoice over the Philippine Medical Association’s (PMA) position paper that they seem to have misunderstood, they have been overwhelmed with the first clause of the first sentence without reading the entire passage.

The PMA expressed its support in the RH bill, but only because “it is founded strongly on the principle that ‘life begins at fertilization’”—a pro-life stance. Furthermore, the group of doctors said it “abhors any procedure, machination or scheme or medication that will interrupt any stage of fertilization and prevents its normal growth to adulthood until the stage of natural death.”

Dr. Bu Castro, chairman of the PMA Commission on Legislation and a signatory of the statement, confirmed the pro-life position himself, and said that the problem arises with the inclusion of contraceptives in the bill.

RH bill supporters have always said that contraceptives—particularly morning-after pill, IUD, and the like—are not abortifacients, and that this matter should be left to health experts. Castro himself confirmed that these contraceptives may indeed cause early abortion.

There are three things why the argument on abortion in contraception continues up to date: Either people do not know that life begins at fertilization, they don’t know what fertilization is, or they pretend to be health experts that they create their own definition of fertilization.

Of course, who would not want to support a health or family planning program? Every family desires a particular family size, but what pro-life groups say is that family planning could be achieved within moral grounds.

Like the PMA, we will support the RH bill if and only if its authors will remove its immoral, inhumane, and unjust ideas.

Immoral, in a sense that, as mentioned in previous Varsitarian editorials, RH bill makes us look like sex-starved rabbits; inhumane that it kills human life, and unjust that it is highly against other people’s rights.

It is not enough that provisions be altered. As long as the core principle of the RH bill is anti-life, it will never get any support from us.

In fact, the PMA fights for the rights of doctors because the RH bill impinges on physicians’ conscience and professional and ethical practice.

Doctors do what they think is best for their patients, but the RH bill dictates that if a doctor refuses to give RH services to his patients, he will be penalized.

It is even more stupid for the RH bill, which we may now call an “anti-doctor bill,” to say that in such case a physician cannot give RH services, he must refer his patients to another physician. Conscience-wise, asking someone to do it is like taking part of the action yourself as the mastermind.

This reminds us of a related issue in the Senate, wherein Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago lectured about conscience alongside with her efforts to promote the RH bill last August 1. Not only that, she also lectured on Theology.

The senator, who discussed as if she is an expert in Theology, said one could follow his conscience even if it is against the moral teachings of the Church.

If that is so, then where would someone base his conscience? In pop culture? In fascist ideologies? What is wrong remains wrong even if everybody does it.

Santiago also classified Theology into two: “traditional,” which sees the Church as a superstate governed by the Pope, and “progressive,” which looks at the Church as a fellowship of spiritual communities who recognize Papal primacy.

With these naïve ideas that she has, no doubt that she presents misinformation. “A little learning is dangerous,” poet Alexander Pope said.

Former senator Francisco Tatad, on the other hand, said Santiago’s classification is political.

“Theology is either good or bad, [or] sound or unsound,” Tatad said in an open letter to Santiago.

We see the words “traditional” and “progressive” in a different perspective. Traditional as being timeless and timely in keeping the values the Church has, while progressive as a state of development. In this sense, the pro-life position against the RH bill is founded on traditional values, but the intention of the opposition is progressive.

For the record, contradictory to Santiago’s claim that the Catholic Church is not the only religion opposing the bill, Muslim and Evangelical groups were also present at the State of the Soul of the Nation Address last July 25 to show their opposition to the said bill.

Also, non-Catholic religions acknowledge the fact that contraceptives being promoted by the RH bill kill life and violate their religious convictions.

Last Sept. 26, nine young congressmen expressed their opposition to the RH bill in a statement, saying that the proposed P3-billion fund for contraceptives could be better used for education, livelihood, and healthcare services. One of the young congressmen is Lanao del Norte, second district Rep. Fatima Aliah Dimaporo, a Muslim who stands firm against the RH bill.

It is odd that the national government underspends on more important services, but is willing to spend billions in buying contraceptives. The PMA statement says that “providing adequate facilities and qualified staff for maternity and pediatric cases” is needed to address the problem of maternal and child deaths in the country.

Being pro-life is not only a Catholic belief, but a Filipino value as well. Blessed John Paul II himself had said without specifying it to Catholics alone: “The Filipino family is pro-life.”

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