On reproductive health and population control

(This was written in December 2012 at the height of deliberations on the Reproductive Health Bill. The bill has since been enacted into law, and nothing substantial has been heard about its implementation or whether it has been consigned to oblivion, which is pretty much what happens to most flash-in-the-pans once the requisite 15 minutes are up.)

RH

RH, RH, RH – How do I love thee not? Let me count the ways…

After flicking the remote control and intermittently listening to the pros and cons being laid down on the Batasan floor in the midnight hour, it has become clear to me that House Bill 4244 is nothing more than a population control measure wrapped in a plastic packet marked reproductive health. Would controlling the birth of babies guarantee the eradication of poverty in this country? It’s just like asking, would the average ‘macho’ Filipino male choose to undergo vasectomy in order to reduce his spawn and make this a better place to live? Hah.

You, male authors and supporters of this bill, would you agree to remove from women the burden of ‘family planning’, ‘responsible parenthood’ or whatever fancy tag you call it, and have yourselves castrated? That is the surest and most effective way of decreasing births – within and outside of marriage. The line forms to the right, gentlemen. You have two or three kids already? Time to snip it. Your manhood won’t be diminished, promise.

Sure, provide pregnant women the best health care possible – including free vitamins and meds but excluding the unwarranted use of abortifacients – that’s not debatable. But the sad fact remains that women – being ‘cursed’ or ‘gifted’ with the uterus – have to bear the burden of reproduction and of controlling population at the same time. Take the pill and all its side effects, insert those weird-looking wires into their innards – while the husbands sit and look away. It’s time to man up and ‘bear the burden’, Dad. Give Mom a break. Make vasectomy obligatory. Then you’ll have my vote.

Do I want my little nephews and nieces to be taught in school how to make babies even as they themselves are still babies? NO. Children these days are already overexposed as they are to sex and violence in all forms of media, what’s to stop them anymore from ‘experimenting’, i.e. indulging early and contributing a few more to the population explosion? Sex education is more important for ten-year-old kids than GMRC, catechism and stuff that have long ago disappeared from the primary school curriculum? Come on, Brother DepEd, Doctor DoH. Leave the ill rhetoric to showboating congressmen; they have work to do for their rich benefactors, um, poor constituents…

Do I want my teenaged nephews to carry condoms everywhere because it is the ‘safe’ way to do it? NO. That only encourages them to practice what their elders preach: just do it. Government distributing contraceptives to teenagers – is it just me or have our morals gone to the murky waters of Pasig River? Would using condoms guarantee that no ‘unwanted’ babies are made? And would giving away those rubber dickies insure that the recipients will use it? In the same token, does the presence of CCTV cameras deter criminals from committing crimes? Incidentally, the grapevine says that the world’s biggest manufacturer of condoms will be brought in by the country’s most ubiquitous businessman. It’s all about the money, folks. Reproductive health, so-called, is just a flimsy smokescreen.

Does the Church calling on its faithful to reject the bill constitute meddling in State affairs? The thin line that separates Church and State has never been trod more gingerly here. Did anyone from civil society raise a howl in February 1986 when the late Cardinal Sin called on the people to march to EDSA, and the nuns formed human barricades to prevent the soldiers from firing? I rest my case…and my unproductive ovaries. I may not have personally contributed to the baby boom but I am happy to see my siblings’ and cousins’ children – living, breathing, smiling, thriving creatures of God basking in their place under the heavens. I am happy that their parents didn’t have to be confronted with the dilemma of choice or life, the Great Conscience Debate, as it were, that couples today are being made to face; that they are not the products of ‘unwanted’ pregnancies (because their ‘protection’ didn’t work), and they are loved no matter the circumstances.

Most of all, I am happy that my own parents did not practice family planning because – embryo, fetus, germ, seed, fertilized egg or unfertilized ovum, whatever scientific term they call it, the naysayers be damned – all six of us have a RIGHT TO BE HERE.

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