Saturday, April 23, 2011

Presenting...The R.H. Bill (Updated)

The Reproductive Health Bill, a bill filed in the Philippine Congress that, if passed, will become a law, is a big issue in the country. The bill talks about contraceptives and, through government, will promote and expand their use in the country. Many clerics and other religious in the Roman Catholic Church are passionately against it because it goes against their morals and dogma. Many others are for the bill because they see it as a way to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases and to slow down overpopulation. Pro's and anti's have taken to the streets, to the web, and to traditional media, to loudly voice their stands, often bringing both groups to a head. Voices have been raised in anger; accusations of slander, libel, and misinformation have been exchanged; threats have been made.

The Anti's have threatened the Pro's with the fires of hell, the everlasting torment and suffering of their souls, calling them evil, depraved, the children of the devil, and ironically wishing that their mothers had just aborted them and prevented them from ever living. The Pro's have called the Anti's narrow-minded zealots who have lost all critical thought as a brain-function and who have become illogical idiots blinded to reality because of their fanaticism, essentially calling them out as the equivalent of medieval inquisitors from a less-informed time in history.

And these have been the nicer exchanges, the ones I can write without having to use an "*" to block out more offensive terms. I'm surprised nobody's ended up hurt or dead from some form of violence yet (or maybe someone has, and I just haven't heard about it; if this is indeed true, don't tell me about it).

With so many people saying so many things in such loud voices about the RH bill, I wondered to myself, "How many of these people have actually read the bill and are not parroting what those around them are saying? How many of these people have actually read the bill, parsed through its intentions, its meanings, its implementation, in a reasoned and controlled manner without having their emotions whipped up in hysteria? How many of these people then, after reading it, can debate on the bill based on what is actually written in it, without having to call each other all these names and make all these threats?"

And then I realized, "Wait a minute. I don't have an opinion on this matter because I haven't read the bill myself!"

So I did some searching on the web, and I found a copy of the bill online. If someone like me with only a modicum of interest in this bill found it fairly easily, I'm sure all these others who find it more important have found it, too.

You know what? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all these people have, indeed, read the bill already.

After all, all these people fighting and arguing and threatening and shouting and raising their fists about this, are fairly intelligent people, right? Who know how to make informed opinions, eh?

These are the kinds of folk who wouldn't, you know, open their mouths and criticize a book without reading it first, right?

Or say something about a movie, or a song, without first watching or listening to it?

Or write a review about a new car model without first giving it a test drive?

Or discuss a new gadget--a computer, a camera, a tablet, a cellphone--without first trying it out?

And these are the kind of people who will not make their stands anonymously, right? I mean, even in this day and age of the internet, when anonymous comments are all the rage, these are the kind of people who would bravely identify themselves by their real names when they make statements, and not hide behind pseudonyms while writing their opinions, correct?

So, there's the bill, online. I'm going to read it. And then, I will follow all these other people and come up with my own informed opinion. And then, to avoid any complications, I'll keep that opinion to myself, because I neither want to be threatened with the fires of hell, nor called a fanatical zealot with no brain.

But I will remember how my Congressman voted. More importantly, I will remember that, after having all the arguments presented to me by all sides, after having all the options open to me presented clearly, then with my free will I will be ready to make my own decisions; because I, like everyone else, have the power to live my life following my morals, my conscience, and my own informed opinions, without having anyone else--Pro or Anti--do my thinking and reflection for me, thank you very much.

Update: PGS contributor Paolo Chikiamco, a lawyer by training, has said that the RH Bill will be amended. He said to just ignore the "factually inaccurate yet sound-byte worthy headline" to this link he provided which talks about the amendment.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Cev Ruiz said...

I, too, have been intrigued by all the "noise" generated by this RH bill and after rummaging the interwebs for a copy of the bill I'm beginning to see some sort of consistency between the parties involved namely the politicians supporting the bill and mainly the Catholic Church opposing the bill. The Catholic Church will never go against its own doctrine. The Catholic Church has strict rules on human sexuality and reproduction and it will fight to uphold those doctrines in the face of a government that are taking steps counter to it. Admittedly there should be a separation of State and Church but the Catholic Church has been ingrained in Philippine society, culture, and politics so much that they continue to hold sway on new policies. Such sway extends in the fact that the country is predominantly Catholic and most people in government are Catholic. At the end of the day the Catholic Church will never go against what it believes in and it will take more than some government law to alter that belief.

The politicians are nothing but consistent in the spearheading of this bill. The origins of the bill can be traced to some United Nations recommendation of population control. As always our politicians picked it up, copy-pasted it, and tried to pass the bill. Several revisions later we get to the current RH bill and with a little imagination you can follow where this is going. Passage of this bill allows for yet another excuse to appropriate / reappropriate / funnel funds (i.e. tax payer's money) for the proposals in the bill in the form of artificial contraceptives (condoms, IUDs, birth control pills), surgical operations (tubal ligation, vasectomy), training of reproductive health personnel, and a van for every municipal / health center involved. What does that translate to? Money. 10 million pesos for condoms until we realize it was just 9 million pesos for condoms and 1 million for the politician's pockets.

Both parties are nothing but consistent. Don't get me wrong. The RH bill has its merits. But it will take more than contraceptives and surgery and supposedly reproductive health education to instill a sense of responsible parenthood in each and every Filipino. You can't do anything on the Church's reaction. They follow orders from the Pope. They would rather lose members that have members that do not follow their established beliefs.

Nice discussion for an Easter Sunday meal, don't you think?

11:58 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Cev Ruiz: Yes! Nice discussion indeed! :)

1:17 PM  

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