Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Another columnist comes out against the RH bill

CAP Note: Those who have read her columns for the past many years would know that Carmen N. Pedrosa of the Philippine Star is by no means a "Catholic columnist", given her history of criticizing the doctrines of the Church. She used to be a supporter of the RH bill: as she stated in her August 5, 2012 column for the Philippine Star, "I was one of those who were for the RH bill in the past because I did not think that the poor should be deprived of their right to decide how many children they should have." However, the dubious means employed by some pro-RH supporters to push for the bill, as well as the mounting evidence of the damage that population control can cause to a nation's long-term demographic (and therefore economic) stability seem to have been instrumental in changing her mind on this matter.

Although Mrs. Pedrosa has expressed her mounting doubts about the RH bill in previous columns (such as her August 11, 2012 column where she already declared that "I find it difficult to support the RH bill. It is a corruption of the commonweal and in time will be destructive"), it is with this September 8, 2012 column that she firmly and completely comes out versus the bill and declares that in order not create more division among the people it might be more prudent not to have an RH bill at all.


FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) 
Updated September 08, 2012 

The way it looks to me, there is a dead-set intent by Congress to pass the RH bill and it has less to do with the Philippine economy or religious principles and even less, for the sake of the well-being of Filipino women. The debate is being fueled by these factors and made to appear as a Church vs. State quarrel with the state taking a stand for economic reasons and the Church for religious principles. But very little has been said about money.

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Here is why: It used to be that USAID provided the money for an international population control program. The Philippines was one of the beneficiaries of that program and it included artificial birth control, among other things. The Church’s teaching is against artificial birth control. But as religious teaching, it did not impose sanctions on personal decisions.

As far as the middle classes in the Philippines (mostly Catholic church goers) are concerned family planning is a private matter and many use artificial birth control without giving up their religion. The poor did not have that choice.

USAID funded artificial birth control. Pills, condoms and IUDS were made available to those who could not afford it.

 But in time the USAID stopped funding the program. A reliable report said “the Philippines relied on international organizations, mainly the US Agency for International Development (USAid), to fund its population control program. It gave $3.5 million annually to subsidize artificial birth control like condoms and pills.

Because of limited funding sources, USAid in time was forced “to stop supplying the Philippines with condoms in 2003, birth-control pills in 2007 and contraceptives through injections in 2008,” the report added.

The question arose whether to continue the program in the Philippines and if it was to be continued who or what would fund the program. A new policy had to be found. The solution: let each country fund its own program. If money were to be set aside for the program, a bill would have to be passed to enable the government to allocate funds for it. That is the RH bill. It has to be passed to make sure that there will be funds, local funds to continue the worldwide population control program in the Philippines. There are no two ways about it.

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According to an article “US Aid to World Birth-Control Efforts Faces Cuts” the downsizing began in 1996. According to Steven Holmes who wrote for New York Times, the Clinton administration subsequently lifted the ban on aid for international birth control efforts that included abortion and abortion counseling. There was a struggle between the House, the Senate and the White House about the ban that “threatened to block the passage of the $12 billion foreign aid bill.”

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So it is not quite true when US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas says that the issue of passing the RH bill does not concern the US government.

There is duplicity too among Church officials. On one hand, Fr. Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Commission on Family and Life earlier said he believed the US government had influenced President Aquino’s “abrupt decision” to support population control.

But on the other hand, CBCP media director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio said he did not believe the US government had influenced the President. Aquino committed support for population control even before he visited the US.

Given this background I do not think it is accurate to reduce the RH bill debate as a local issue between the Church vs. the Aquino government.

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Sen. Pia Cayetano recently moved to “delete controversial provisions in the Senate version such as the section that provided the care of women who have undergone abortions” as a concession.

She also sought a change in the title of the bill, from “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development” to “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood.” 

Cayetano, as chairman of the Senate committee on health, changed the title of section 9 of the bill. Instead of family planning supplies it was to be called “essential medicines.” Hmm. She said the title would be changed to “The Philippine National Drug Formulary System and Family Planning supplies.”

Under the section, she added: “The Philippine National Drug Formulary System (PNDFS) shall be observed in selecting drugs including family planning supplies that will be included or removed from the essential drugs list in accordance with existing practice.”

Senator Vic Sotto is not as stupid as some people make him out to be because his speech writer had plagiarized an article from a blog. However, flawed he put the debate on a different direction.

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The heart of the issue is whether or not we need to pass the RH bill. It is ironic that while the Church is seen as obstructing the passage of this bill, it is in fact protecting freedom. If passed the RH bill will by nature be coercive using the power and infrastructure of the state. On the other hand, the Church’s teaching as teaching is not coercive. Catholics can take or leave it as they have..

The Church has the obligation to keep to its teachings and members who do not believe it can leave the institution. There are those who believe that the size of their families is a personal decision and that is the primary consideration.

The State will have to seek a new paradigm for helping the poor other than giving them artificial birth control. As it is, the RH bill will institutionalize state coercion focused on cutting the number of poor in the Philippines.

It is unfair not to give them the freedom of choice. I know poor families who think of children as insurance for the family’s future. They believe that the more children they have the better off the family would be when all of them have jobs and contribute to the family kitty.

*      *      *

With this perspective and in order not create more division among the people it might be more prudent not to have an RH bill at all.

Maybe the government should return the problem to the USAID to find the funds to continue their population control program in the Philippines.

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