For many of you readers, my thoughts about the RH Bill has been published here since the issue became hot again with the resolution of the baranggay ordinance at Ayala Alabang Village. Such thoughts have been expressed from time and time again but let me state this position from time and time again as an Evangelical Christian. Yes, I am a Christian and I may have been vague in the past as to how I am with the RH Bill but let me say this now, I am proudly Pro-RH. Last two years ago, I have been in quandary as to how I will approach this issue of the RH Bill since I belong to a university whose influence comes primarily from the group officially named Prelature of Opus Dei and the Holy Cross, a conservative Roman Catholic group comparable to an RC Diocese which is ardently anti-RH with its pool of Economics professors which explained their Anti-RH sentiment in the economic standing and point.
As per personal opinion, these economic points do have a bearing since I do believe that population growth does not have a straightforward economic impact. At a symposium, these economists did cite countries with steadily dropping populations like the Scandinavian countries and Spain to mention a few with the fact that we are the top country that sends labour to other parts of the globe. His position is that our growing population is an advantage to which we can send more labor to other countries. This seems to be reasonable but to think deeply about it, that too has several loopholes to cite. I may not be an economist but even to a simple folk can discover these obvious loopholes themselves. Here is an example…
“The growing Philippine population as an advantage to send more OFW’s and have more workers…”
Well, I do agree that our big population can enable us to send more OFW’s and hence more remittances but what is more agreed is that the OFW phenomena is in itself a social problem. A family with a missing parent, no matter how advanced the mode of communications have become, is not a family working at an optimum. Another issue is that with the prevalent disasters, wars and many stories of abuse is another problem which the Philippine government has to bear with high costs. Also, we would want as much as possible for the professionals to stay in the country and help with its development rather than continue their exodus.
It is known very well that more than 50% of our population lives under poverty line with a little more than a dollar a day. Getting employed in another country or the very act of going there involves money that most of our country’s citizens cannot afford. Most of those who go out of the country as OFW’s are at least lower middle income citizens. Fact it is as well that the highest percentage in population growth belongs to these same people who are poor therefore cannot afford being OFW’s. Therefore, the stipulation that out continuing population growth will do us good is rather shaky and still subject to further study.
There is also a stigma that the RH Bill will bring to our country the same fate as Europe had brought on themselves. Europe for one has a dropping population of locals which means the number of Spaniards will decrease by half in a decade. Looking at it further, the real reason for the drop in European population is not much with their passage of a similar law to the RH Bill but rather their cultural inclinations. Europeans are NOT family-centered like us Asians or specifically Filipinos. To us Filipinos, we have a strong desire to find our mate and sire a family. The average number and preferred number of children among Filipinos is two to three children. No where far are we going to have any decrease in the number of people.
You might tell me… “Even if that’s the case, its still morally wrong and anti-life!” You might go on to the litany of protecting babies or the procreation value of sexual intercourse or many other things but all I can say is that you ar merely mistaken in your ideas. Let us look for example the passage you cited in the “I Oppose the RH Bill” from Deuteronomy 30:19 which says: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” and 1 Corinthians 7:28 which says… “But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life…” In the case of Deut. 30:19, this is not even a passage that talks about physical life but rather spiritual life. It talks about God giving spiritual life to the people and death spiritually. As for 1 Cor. 7:28, nowhere does it talk about sexual life though there is a note to virgins that they should not have sex before marriage (premarital sex) for if so, they sin. The point of this passage is that it talks about the life that single men and women should live and why they should choose their future spouse carefully because married life is hard, not so much with sexual life but family life and its responsibilities! I lament at the fact on how poorly and how badly they use Scriptures out of context to justify their means. One such thing as well is the misuse of the biblical passage “go forth and multiply” for they have forgotten the other part of the passage which says “subdue the earth”. Not so much to use the resources but rather in living responsibly and managing growth.
Earlier this year, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches issued a statement on the RH Bill and this one was written in the Facebook page of Bishop Ephraim Tendero. I will do the liberties of posting it here…
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), a network of more than 30,000 local congregations in the Philippines, is thankful for being invited as resource for this hearing on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. We are thankful for the honorable legislators for having this bill.
PCEC is supportive of the RH bill for 3 reasons:
1. It advocates the protection of life. We believe that life begins at fertilization and the promotion of the use of artificial forms of fertilization does not take life away, for the human life begins in the union of the sperm and the egg cells.
2. It promotes developmental and responsible living. In the Holy Scriptures, Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that God created man in His own image. Even in the mandate to Adam and Eve, God said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” When the command was given, it was to a total world population of two people. But now the whole world is overpopulated, and the second part of this mandate is to subdue the earth, which means to have responsible living. This calls for responsible parenthood, that couples must determine the number of children that they can raise up and nurture properly.
We believe that procreation is one of the purposes of sex. However, sex is not limited to procreation alone. Sex for the infertile and for those in menopause violates such provision. Therefore, we believe that the use of contraception in the union of the husband and wife does not violate the purpose of sex, for another purpose of sex is to express the intimacy of the union of the husband and wife. We support the RH Bill because it is pro-development and advocates responsible parenthood.
3. It fulfills one of the functions of government. The government was instituted by God to promote good and restrain evil. By providing a comprehensive RH Bill, the Philippine Government is able to fulfill the function of protecting lives and promoting development of such lives.
To summarize, the RH Bill is pro-life, pro-development and pro-poor. A simple look at our demography shows that majority of the affluent couples have limited number of children and have raised them properly because they have access to education and health services that enables them to have carefully planned parenthood.
The great majority of the indigent families do not have planned parenthood or do not practice such because they do not have access to education and the necessary health services. The RH bill will rectify this inequality by giving the great majority of the indigent couples the needed education and services to have responsible parenthood.
We ask that the different versions of the RH Bill be consolidated and be brought to the plenary session of the Congress for debate and action.
As with the decision of the leaders of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the Church body which my denomination, Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines, belongs to. They painstakingly consulted the Bible on what must be done before taking a stand. This is what must be done. I lament all the more at how the Catholic groups twist the Bible for to suit their own standing. Not only are their ideas out of Biblical context but painfully ridiculous!
One such statement as well is that contraception is abortion. Let’s not delve with pills for I believe there must be medical consideration as how to use this and must not be indiscriminately distributed though I acknowledge the fact that all the birth control pills out there in the market are safe and only stops the woman from being fertile while taking the pill. True, there might be concerns but as for condoms and withdrawal method being labeled abortion? This is completely ridiculous. I know their logic which goes by this… “Abortion stops life from developing so it is murder and because contraception stops the egg cell and sperm from meeting hence not forming life so it is abortion as well.” This logic is plainly nonsensical because how can you abort something that’s not even there! How can you abort life if there is no life there yet, not a single fertilized cell in the womb? I believe that life starts from conception, that egg cell that has just been penetrated or fertilized by the sperm, but if there’s no conception, how can it be possible that you are aborting life? I myself am stringently anti-abortion at all stages of human development from that newly fertilized cell to a baby ready to be delivered. I wish these people read the dictionary very well. This reveals that they themselves have not read the RH Bill with logic intact. They claim that RH Bill permits abortion, forces sterilization on the population, imposes a two-child policy and introduces pornography to children. Nowhere in the RH Bill are these things mentioned, not any of the provisions!
On the argument that using condoms is morally wrong and bastardizes the real meaning of the sexual act is also plainly nonsensical. I do have to remind them that putting procreation as the sole center of focus in sexual intercourse is plainly misleading. Not only is sexual intercourse for procreation but also it signifies the bonds of the husband and wife. It is their ultimate act of trust and love for each other. Sexual intercourse is not only a physical act but an emotional act where the married couple is open to everything with nothing hidden and their hearts one. I agree that pleasure should not be the focus of sexual intercourse but one must also acknowledge the emotional bond it brings. True to the fact that most animals can only have sexual intercourse in the female’s most fertile period but we humans can have it even if the woman is not in her fertile period. It just comes to show that sex as we call it is more than just an act of reproduction but the highest form of intimacy which God wants husbands and wives to enjoy.
I do acknowledge that sex outside marriage is a sin and young people must be encouraged to stay pure. There’s the issue of sex education in schools that some Catholics say is tantamount to having porn in the classrooms. Though I agree that the law must be precise on what the contents of the curriculum must have but sex education in itself is necessary. Parents have the duty to inform their children about sex and its consequences, most parents fail to do so and since the school is the second home, it must also have the responsibility to teach the children about the consequences of sex. I roll my eyes at the fact that some of these Catholics having the sentiment against sex education fail to remember that Catholic schools themselves have already a part on sex education in their religion classes. Also, they fail to acknowledge the fact that the Secretary of Education is a De La Salle Brother, a Catholic and religious. Also, True Love Waits, Philippines has programs around the country on abstinence in sexual matters and the consequences of sexual sin. It even has some points of cooperation with the Department of Education. I believe that sex education would be nowhere near in showing porn clips in classes for I know the parents themselves would take action. True that even we teach the young people about sex education 24 hours a day, some of them will commit that sin but what’s different is you are giving them the alternative to society’s destructive view of sex and somehow lead many to the light.
Some Catholic clergy shouts litanies on the degradation of morals and the further degradation it brings if the RH Bill is passed. I believe that morals are already degrading among the majority of Filipinos but this is not the State’s own action but the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has failed to do their part of shepherding their flock and having the accountability among its members. Corruption and moral degradation is the result of the Roman Catholic Church own failure to do its job to morally shepherd their congregants which makes up the majority of the country’s population. Many Protestant Churches are at fault too. It is their failure to uplift the morals that the State is taking actions and fortunately, committed followers of Christ mostly among the Evangelical block are doing their part.
Many of these Catholics against the RH Bill fail to realize that as long as they come up with the most desperately ridiculous and nonsensical reasons to oppose the RH Bill, the more they are alienating themselves with the people whom they want to convince. Instead of going to the streets and protesting or using the pulpit for political exercise, I’d rather see these clergies stepping up to know the spiritual standing of their flock and creating an accountability with them. The Roman Catholic clergy has delved far from their responsibilities and has let the spiritual climate of their congregants fall all the more. If only they stop bickering and start visitations among communities, preaching love and the salvation from the grace of God can we see moral corruption from spreading. They must realize that they have the problem and not the RH Bill. They themselves must stop preaching lies and manipulating the truth of the RH Bill. They should live up to what they preach so that the people will see the light and they do not have to go to the streets and protest again.
A lot of the contentions on the RH Bill has been always on contraception or sex education but what has always been left out is the real point of this bill, which is to safeguard the reproductive health of women. My heart goes out to those thousands of victims of illegal abortions that die by the thousands each year. In the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, they are murderers but in my eyes and in Jesus’ eyes, they are victims too needing God’s grace. Though I support many of the RH Bill’s provisions, what I really want is the fact that this law also stipulates proper psychological, emotional and even possibly spiritual help for these women. This is sadly what many anti-RH people fail to see and even realize. In a society that has always been judgmental, these women deserves to be cared and to be loved. The Roman Catholic Church and the society at large has no place for them but I admire the fact that some in the government and the ordinary people saw their plight. More than anything in the RH Bill, the plight of the victims of illegal abortion and hospital mishandling of women is the reason why I support the RH Bill.