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Bernardo M. Villegas Rosa Linda G. Valenzona Jo M. Imbong Roberto E. de Vera Raul Antonio Nidoy Robert Z. Cortes
Section 1: Medical Arguments
Section 2: Socio – economic Arguments
Section 3: Ethical Arguments
Section 4: Legal Arguments
This is the revised first edition of this Handbook. The most important consideration to be given when using this is that it was made with the “unamended” version of the RH Bill in mind. Although the authors were quite aware that amendments have been proposed by the proponents of the RH Bill, the formal amendment of the Bill has not actually happened either in Congress or the Senate. Thus, the authors thought it more prudent to include even arguments that may not actually be applicable anymore once the Bill has been finally amended – assuming it makes it through its present status. Anyway, these arguments may actually be useful in other situations. This Handbook was made for the Filipino people. It was written to help honest minds understand what the R.H. Bill really is and cut through the jungle of confusing arguments to expose the most essential truth about the Bill: it short changes the Filipino person and the Filipino nation. Due to the very limited time that was given for writing this Handbook, however, it was not possible to include the voluminous amount of other undoubtedly valuable material that could have likewise strengthened the points mentioned here. Also, there are no doubt more nuances in the reasons and arguments that have not been written. However, the authors hope that they could include whatever may be lacking when the occasion comes to revise this Handbook. Suggestions and materials are most welcome. The authors would like to thank the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, through Archbishop Jose Palma, for giving them the opportunity to serve the country in a small way through the writing of this Handbook. Special mention goes to Dr. Antonio Torralba who put the team together. Lastly, many thanks go to the millions of men and women all over the world who have defended and continue to defend the cause of LIFE through their prayers, writings, spoken word, and living example. The Authors September 12, 2012 Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary
Bernardo M. Villegas, Ph.D. (Harvard University), Economist Rosa Linda L. Valenzona, M.A. (University of the Philippines), Demographer Jo M. Imbong, Esq. (University of the Philippines), Public Interest Lawyer Roberto E. De Vera, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh), Economist Raul Antonio Nidoy, S.Th.D. (University of Navarre), Educator Robert Z. Cortes, M.A. (Columbia University), Educator 2
The RH Bill, being merely palliative and based on faulty assumptions and facts, falls short in giving the Filipino what he or she truly deserves, both as a human person with dignity and as a proud citizen of a sovereign nation. Worse than that, several key provisions of the RH Bill are harmful to individual Filipinos and the Filipino nation. The RH Bill will result to the rending, warping and despoiling of Filipino culture. These, in summary, are the reasons that Filipinos should reject the RH Bill. This handbook provides the interested reader arguments for doing so based on human science and reason.
SECTION 1: MEDICAL ARGUMENTS
The RH Bill is harmful to the Filipinos because it endorses drugs and other family planning supplies and techniques that have serious deleterious effects to their physical health and to the environment.
1. Pills cause cancer.
a. An International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) study (2005) by 21 scientists from 8 countries concluded “that combined estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives and combined estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy are carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), after a thorough review of the published scientific evidence.” Group 1 (most certain) carcinogens include as well asbestos and formaldehyde (Baan, Grosse, Straif, et al., 2009). Substances are placed in this category when “when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.” b. The same IARC (2005) study mentioned above, moreover mentions, “use of oral contraceptives increases risk of breast, cervix and liver cancer.” c. Althius, Brogan, Coates, et al. (2003) point out that “recent use of oral contraceptive pills is associated with a modest risk of breast cancer among very young women… Women who recently used oral contraceptives containing more than 35 g of ethinyl oestradiol per pill were at higher risk of breast cancer than users of lower dose preparations when compared to never users… This relationship was more marked among women <35 years of age…. We also found significant trends of increasing breast cancer risk for pills with higher progestin and oestrogen potencies…, which were most pronounced among women aged <35 years of age…. Risk was similar across recently used progestin types.” 3
d. Brinton, Huggins, Lehman, et al (1986) affirm that “our findings provide further evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives may have a carcinogenic effect on cervical epithelium1...” e. Hsing, Hoover, McLaughlin, et al. (1992) writes, “This study, the largest to date, adds to the number of investigations demonstrating an increased risk of primary liver cancer with use, particularly long-term use, of oral contraceptives.” f. National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Maryland, U.S.A. (2012) says that there is an increased risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancer.
g. National Health Services (NHS), U.K. (2012) admits that there is increased risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancer, although these are small. h. While it is true that institutions like the NCI and NHS tend to downplay the carcinogenic risks of contraceptives, the fact that these have been published and acknowledged as Group 1 carcinogens should give pause to any responsible government that intends to give them away for free, as if it did not care for the lives of the women who would be affected by them. In the words of Sen. Pia Cayetano (2012), herself a very strong advocate of the RH Bill: “If there were only 10 women or 3 women dying, is that one life not worth saving?”
2. Pills increase the risk of stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attack), thrombosis, and diabetes.
a. Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are found to reduce the risks of and used to treat ovarian cancer. However, this study of Diamanti-Kandrakis, Baillergeon, Iurno, Jakubomicz and Nestler (2003) warns that “OCPs may aggravate insulin resistance2 and exert other untoward metabolic actions that possibly enhance the long-term risk for diabetes and heart disease. This important clinical issue has received relatively scant attention from clinical investigators and remains unsettled.” b. Hannaford, Croft, and Kay (1994) affirm that “women who had ever used oral contraceptives had an increased risk of all stroke (odds ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 2.0, adjusted for smoking and social class)… Current users of oral contraceptives appeared to be at increased risk of stroke.”
Cervical epithelium: the membranous cellular tissue covering the surface of the cervix (the outer end of the uterus) 2 Insulin resistance: reduced sensitivity to insulin by bodily processes independent to insulin (as glucose uptake, breakdown of fat, and inhibition of glucose production by the liver) that results in lowered activity of these processes or an increase in insulin production or both and that is typical of type 2 diabetes but often occurs in the absence of diabetes (http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/insulin%20resistance)
c. Martinelli, Sacchi, Landi, et al. (1998) write that “mutations in the prothrombin gene and the factor V gene are associated with cerebral-vein thrombosis3. The use of oral contraceptives is also strongly and independently associated with the disorder. The presence of both the prothrombin-gene mutation and oral-contraceptive use raises the risk of cerebral-vein thrombosis further.” d. Tanis, van den Bosch, Kemmeren, et al (2001) confirm that “the risk of myocardial infarction was increased among women who used second-generation oral contraceptives. The results with respect to the use of third-generation oral contraceptives were inconclusive but suggested that the risk was lower than the risk associated with second-generation oral contraceptives. The risk of myocardial infarction was similar among women who used oral contraceptives whether or not they had a prothrombotic mutation.” e. Kemmeren, Tanis, van den Bosch, et al (2002) assert that “epidemiological studies have shown an increased risk of venous thrombosis in women taking thirdgeneration oral contraceptives, i.e., those containing the progestogens desogestrel or gestodene... Third-generation oral contraceptives (containing desogestrel or gestodene) confer the same risk of first ischemic stroke4 as second-generation oral contraceptives (containing levonorgestrel).” f. Despite the dangers mentioned above, Festin (2006) affirms that “a review of the drug catalogue in the Philippines shows that preparations with second-generation progestogens (LNG and NG) and third-generation progestogens (DSG and GSD) are on sale in the country (Philippines).” Sen. Pia Cayetano admits this, referring to OCPs: “It's there in the Philippine Drug Formulary. It's acknowledged as an essential part of that list” (Chua, 2012). In fact, according to the Office of Population Research at Princeton University (2012) which lists more than 330 brands or types of emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) and gets their “country-by-country information for dedicated ECPs…from non-governmental organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and reports from the field,” the following 2nd and 3rd –generation OCPs are available in the Philippines: Femenal, Nordiol, Charlize, Lady, Nordette, Rigevidon 21+7, Seif, and Trust Pills, among others.
g. At least one Filipino buy-and-sell website, sulit.com.ph, has a dealer that sells (as of the writing of this Handbook) Yasmin, a 3rd-generation OCP, for local consumption. Even as the drug is being sold through the website, the website issues a lot of contraindications regarding this OCP which includes high blood pressure, history of stroke, liver disease, breast cancer etc. including the possibility that (sulit.com.ph, 2012). Perhaps rightly so, since in the U.S. alone, Yasmin already had 129 lawsuits by the middle of October 2009 and has “come under scrutiny in Europe as well…”
Cerebral-vein thrombosis: the formation or presence of a blood clot within a vein in the brain Ischemic stroke: a stroke caused by a deficient supply of blood to the brain that is due to obstruction of the inflow of arterial blood
(Lamb, 2009). Most of these were cases of thrombotic deaths related to this OCP and the progestin called “drospirenone which has 1.7 time increased risk of developing blood clots compared to levonorgestrel” (another progestin) (Lamb, 2011). h. Cole, Norman, Doherty, and Walker (2007) affirm that “there was a more than twofold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism5 associated with use of the transdermal contraceptive system6.” i. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Service Office on Women’s Health (2009) say that birth control pills are generally safe for young, healthy women. However, birth control pills can raise the risk of stroke for some women, especially women over 35…” In quite a number of literature (e.g., see Vandenbrouke, Rosing, Blooemenkamp, et al ), the researchers would mention a number of high-risk populations (e.g. smokers, the obese, hypertensives, etc.) for particular types of contraceptives even as they would claim that in general, the increase in the risk by oral contraceptives is minimal. This means that for these women not to be exposed to the increased dangers of contraception, the doctors prescribing the contraceptives must be fully knowledgeable of all the types of high-risk populations vis-à-vis the contraceptives which they must avoid. The kind of detail involved in this exercise is something that only the most virtuous or most equipped of doctors can deliver. Failure to deliver this detail will result in unnecessary deaths of women, something that brings us back again to the words of Sen. Pia Cayetano (2012), herself a very strong advocate of the RH Bill: “If there were only 10 women or 3 women dying, is that one life not worth saving?”
3. Pills have other associated health problems not generally mentioned in most websites or literature.
a. Lindberg (1992) asserts that “despite the improved safety profile of these products, there remains a plethora of adverse reactions. Problems associated with oral contraceptives include hypercoagulability7 and venous thromboembolism, portal vein thrombosis, stroke, myocardial infarction in older women, alterations in glucose metabolism, adverse alterations in the lipid profile, and hypertension, in addition to a variety of effects on the liver.” b. Sulak, Scow, Preece, Riggs, and Kuehl (2000) affirm that withdrawal symptoms in users of oral contraceptives (OC) have hardly been talked about. In this study’s abstract, however, the authors report that “using daily diaries, women recorded pelvic pain,
Venous thromboembolism: the blocking of a vein by a particle that has broken away from a blood clot at its site of formation (http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/thromboembolism) 6 Transdermal contraceptive system: substances and materials making up the “contraceptive patch,” a patch that contains hormones preventing pregnancy and absorbed through the skin 7 Hypergoagulability: the tendency of the blood to clot excessively
bleeding, headaches, analgesic use, nausea or vomiting, bloating or swelling, and breast tenderness during active-pill intervals and hormone-free intervals. Participants either had no prior OC use, had taken OCs and were restarting, or had been taking OCs continuously for 12 months or longer.” c. Again, the pro-RH proponents such as Picazo, Danguilan, Lavado, and Ulep et al (2012) minimize these effects by saying that “No contraceptive pills are absolutely safe, but mainstream science’s consensus is that they are generally safe.” Even assuming that were true, however, a government that is truly concerned with the welfare of its people cannot be distributing freely – and making all taxpayers pay for them – substances which can be a “fatal risk… (to) 1 per 100,000 women”. Given the estimates of 24.8 million in the reproductive age (15-49) in 2012 (based on the data provided by World Population Prospects, 2010 revision, and the author's calculations adding population of women in age cohorts of 15-49 years of age), that figure translates to 248 women. What will Sen. Pia Cayetano (2012) say to that, she who said, “If there were only 10 women or 3 women dying, is that one life not worth saving?”
4. Pills and the IUD kill the human embryo.
a. Kahlenborn (2000) writes in his book that “both pro-life and pro-abortion groups openly admit that OCP use causes early abortions, with the latter doing publicly in testimony before the (U.S.) Supreme Court in 1989.” b. The Filipino buy-and-sell site itself where Yasmin, already mentioned in 2g. above, is sold candidly admits that this third-generation OCP very much available in the Philippines, “prevents ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary) and also cause (sic) changes in your cervical and uterine lining, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus” (sulit.com.ph, 2012). This is abortion, based on the general consensus of medical and paramedical professionals which includes the Philippine Medical Association (Castro & Tinio, 2011), ethicists, theologians, lawyers, scientists and the common people. Finally, if the fetus is not aborted, the website mentioned above warns the user that the drug may cause birth defects in the unborn baby. c. Even though this drug may not yet be legal in the Philippines it is worth quoting Tang, Lau and Yip (1993) who categorically affirm that “RU486 is an alternative abortion method which should be made widely available.” d. Wyser-Pratte (2000): “RU-486, or mifepristone, can work as an contraceptive, as an emergency contraceptive, or as an abortifacient.” e. The Guttmacher Institute (2005), citing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists confirm that “Food and Drug Administration–approved contraceptive drugs and devices act to prevent pregnancy in one or more of three major ways: by 7
suppressing ovulation, by preventing fertilization of an egg by a sperm or by inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining.” These contraceptive drugs and devices include estrogen-progestin pills, progesterone-only pills and injectables, emergency contraception, and IUDs. The highlighted words refer to abortion as the fertilized egg, which dies from being prevented to implant, is already a human being. More on this under “Legal Arguments.”
5. Pills cause serious environmental problems.
a. The study of Dr. Joanne Parrott of the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, Ontario claims that “as little as three parts-per-trillion of synthetic estrogen (used in birth control pills)” mutate certain fish rendering them incapable of reproducing. “This amount of synthetic estrogen is equivalent to dropping a single birth control pill into 10,000 L of water. A human female using the birth control pill will excrete this amount in her urine over the course of a single day.” (Unger, 2012) b. Peat (1997) asserts that “estrogenic pollution kills birds, panthers, alligators, old men, young women, fish, seals, babies, and ecosystems…Many tons of synthetic and pharmaceutical estrogens, administered to menopausal women in quantities much larger than their bodies ever produced metabolically, are being added to the rivers.” c. Beckman (2008) likewise says that “the UK Environment Agency confirmed the contraceptive pill as a pollutant back in 2002. The Agency warned then that fish stocks in British rivers were showing signs of gender ambiguity as a result of high levels of estrogen in the water.” Several mutations were likewise found in Colorado (USA) and New Brunswick, Canada. d. Aside from affecting animals, Beckman (2008) claims that “studies are also showing significant evidence for a link between environmental estrogens, and estrogen-like chemical pollutants, and the earlier onset of puberty in girls… Studies from the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand have shown similar results.”
6. Male and female sexual sterilization DO have harmful physical, psychological, and social effects.
a. Berek and Novak (2007) write that “the greatest risk of pregnancy, including ectopic pregnancy occurs in the first 2 years after sterilization.” b. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “the risk of sterilization failure is substantially higher than previously reported…Analysis found…(failure) of 13 per 1,000 procedures… (and it) persists for years after the procedure…The younger the woman was at the time of sterilization, the more likely she was to have had a sterilization failure” (Hatcher, Russell & Nelson, 2008). The impact of contraceptive failure such as this on the rise of unwanted pregnancy and, subsequently, abortion, cannot 8
be overlooked as studies like the one of Bradley & Croft (2010) and the Allan Guttmacher Institute (1996) show. c. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, "Depending on the sterilization technique, between 800 and 2,000 women per 100,000 can expect a major complication at the time of the operation." (Bower, n.d.) d. Some women who have had their fallopian tubes tied have suffered from Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome (PTLS) which is “associated with a lack of blood flow to the fallopian tubes which may cause an interruption in progesterone levels” and manifested in the following, among others: hormonal imbalances, weight gain, chronic fatigue, depression, and irregular periods with heavy clotting (Oxendine, 2010). e. The negative psychological effects of tubal ligation has been documented in different parts of the world that reported results such as the following: i. From the Congo (Africa) researchers reported “conflicting experiences in several areas of their lives after tubal sterilization…(and) psychosocial morbidity…” among clients. (Lutala, Hugo, & Luhiriri, 2011) ii. In Tabriz, Iran, researchers reported that “anxiety rate in the case group was significantly more than the control group” (Rogaye , Reyhane , Fateme, Zakaria & Fateme, 2007) where the case group consisted of women who had been ligated 1-10 years before the research. iii. In Turkey, researchers reported that “the termination of fertility, …with tubal sterilization, may be a risk factor” towards the abnormal sexual functioning of women with poor education (Gulum, Yeni, Sahin, Savas, & Ciftci, 2010). iv. The phenomenon of regret was highlighted by one study in Brazil, which has one of the highest numbers of female sterilization. It found that the “relative risk of requesting reversal for women sterilized before age 25 was 18 times that of women sterilized after age 29” and this demand for reversal of sterilization has increased (Hardy, Bahamondes, Osis, Costa, & Faundes, 1996). v. One systematic review of 19 articles that studied connections between sterilization and later regret showed that “women undergoing sterilization at the age 30 years or younger were about twice as likely as those over 30 to express regret. They were also from 3.5 to 18 times as likely to request information about reversing the procedure and about 8 times as likely to actually undergo reversal or an evaluation for in vitro fertilization. (Curtis, Mohllhajee, & Peterson, 2006).
Some medical websites like the Mayo Clinic (2011), trivialize the side effects of vasectomy. However, the study of Manikandan, Srirangam, Pearson, & Collins (2004) reveals that “chronic scrotal pain after vasectomy is more common than previously described, affecting almost one in seven patients.”
g. One study in Australia that involved 860 men who were requesting for vasectomy reversal procedures concluded that “regretted vasectomy is now a common cause of infertility whose treatment may be both unsuccessful and costly” (Jequier, 1998). A more recent study in the Netherlands revealed the same phenomenon of poststerilization regret “notably those who underwent it at a young age and those without children of their own” (Dohle, Meuleman, Hoekstra, van Roijen, & Zwiers, 2005).
SECTION 2: SOCIO-ECONOMIC ARGUMENTS8
The RH Bill is harmful to Filipino society because its intent to control population is based on wrong facts and wrong economics, and naïve to the negative social effects that will come in its train.
1. It implies that the Philippines’ fertility is high and its growth rate is increasing. They are NOT.
a. In fact, the Philippines’ total fertility rate (TFR) has been going down, nearing the 2.1 replacement level: from 7.42 in 1950 - 1955 to 3.27 in 2005 – 2010. (World Population Prospects, 2010) b. Without any serious population policy in the last 50 years, the fertility rate of the Philippines already went down by more than 50%: how much faster do we want our fertility rates to plummet, and do we want that by introducing the RH Bill? c. Average annual population growth rates have gone down from 3.06% in 1948-1960 down to 2.36% in 1995-2000. The last two censuses show that this decline continued: 2.04% in 2000-2007 and 1.53% in 2007-2010. From 2095 to 2100, the Philippine population has been projected by the U.N. to grow at an average of -0.06% a year (World Population Prospects, 2010) which means that more Filipinos would be dying than being born even after we take away the effect of outmigration. d. This rapid rate of decline is the opposite of what Pres. Ramos, using data from the Family Planning and Development (FFPD), claimed in a 2006 speech that our
A good number of the economic and demographic arguments in applicable sections of this handbook were taken from an updated version of de Vera, Roberto (8 September 2012) “Economic and Demographic Aspects of the Reproductive Health Bill: A Question and Answer Primer.”
“population growth continued to gallop at an undiminished rate of 2.3 percent.” That rate was our growth rate between 1985 and 2000. e. The Philippine total fertility rate (TFR), the average number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime, is projected to reach 2.06 in 2050-2055 (UN, 2011) which is below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1, the level needed for a population to maintain its present level. f. Experience shows that virtually all the countries which pursued a path to reduce their fertility rates to replacement levels, for example, the Asian tigers and those in Europe, found that their fertility levels continued to decrease to below replacement levels and remained there for two or more decades. Since smaller cohorts of babies being born lead to smaller cohorts entering the workforce fifteen to twenty years later, and larger cohorts of workers today will be exiting into the elderly population, it should be no mystery that these same countries are facing labor shortages and pension fund crises. (See point 6, section 2.)
g. This was shown graphically by a study of Alkema, Raferty, Gerland, et al (p.41, 2010) of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, University of Washington.
h. Fortunately, when the UN published a revision of their projection in 2010, our below replacement level of 1.95 has been moved to 2060 (Philippines , p. 3, 2010). Meaning: without the RH Bill, we have been able to move back doomsday, the day when our population would already be below replacement level and doomed to a demographic winter. i. Nevertheless, below replacement fertility rates are closer to home than we think. The 2008 National Demographic Health Survey shows that the richest 20% of Filipino families had a below replacement total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.9. This means that 20% of Filipino families are not having enough babies to replace themselves and this is happening even without the help a reproductive health law in place.
2. It implies that lack of economic development is correlated to population growth. It is NOT.
a. The Nobel Prize winner, Simon Kuznets, belies this assumption in his 1966 book Modern Economic Growth: Rate, Structure and Spread (pp. 67-68) where he showed that “[n]o clear association appears to exist in the present sample of countries, or is likely to exist in the other developed countries, between rates of growth of population and of product per capita.” b. Other studies have confirmed Kuznets’s findings in data for developed and developing countries, showing no clear link between population growth and economic growth (or poverty). i. Levine and Renelt (1992): no significant effect of population growth on economic growth; ii. Kling and Pritchett (1994): no significant effect of population growth on economic growth; iii. Ahlburg (1996): population growth has little or no direct effect on poverty; iv. Sala-I-Martin, Doppelhofer, & Miller (2004): average annual population growth from 1960-1990 was not robustly correlated with economic growth; v. Hanushek and Woessmann (2007): average annual population growth from 1960-1990 was not robustly correlated with economic growth; vi. U.S. National Research Council (1986): similar conclusions as above vii. U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Consultative Meeting of Economists (1992): similar conclusions as above viii. RAND Corporation (research word leader associated with 30 Nobel Prize winners) study of Bloom, Canning, & Sevilla (2003): similar conclusions as above c. Thus, if population growth doesn’t affect economic growth, what will? i. Commission on Growth and Development led by Nobel laureate in Economics Michael Spence (2008): High growth economies: 1. exploited the world economy; 2. kept macroeconomic stability; 3. achieved high rates of savings and investment; 4. let markets allocate resources; and 12
5. had committed, credible and capable governments. ii. Julian Simon (1996) gives evidence for the crucial role that good governance and economic policies play in economic growth when he compares three pairs of countries that have the same culture and history and practically had the same standard before they split after World War II—East and West Germany, North and South Korea, and Taiwan and China.
3. It implies that a rapidly growing population causes hunger and a shortage of resources. It does NOT.
a. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) statistics (2007) show that from 1961 to 2002, available world food supply per person has gone up by 24.4% and enough food is being produced for everyone on earth to enjoy a healthy diet; (in developing countries) “incidence of undernourishment has decline from 28 percent of the population two decades ago to 17 per cent according to data from 1999-2001” b. The trends of increasing food supply and fewer undernourished persons confirm Boserup’s (1965) point: it is population growth that causes increases in food production and not the other way around. c. Julian Simon (1996) affirms that amid population growth, resource have become scarce (or are in greater supply relative to the technology used to extract and to employ the resource) by showing that their prices have down over time. d. Julian Simons (1996) explains that “more people, and increased income, cause problems in the short run. This increased scarcity of resources causes prices to rise. The higher prices present an opportunity, and prompt inventors and entrepreneurs to search for solutions. Many fail at cost to themselves. But in a free society, solutions are eventually found. And in the long run the new developments leave us better off than if the problems had arisen. That is, prices end up lower than before the increased scarcity occurred.”
4. It evinces a poor understanding of the true sources of economic poverty, and thus goes wide off the mark in proposing a more lasting solution.
a. If poverty isn’t caused by rapid population growth because it has no clear negative impact on economic growth, food supply and resource availability, then its causes lie elsewhere. b. Poverty: i. is a state in which people cannot obtain the food, water, shelter, clothing, education and medicines needed to live with dignity and a humane quality of life
because they don’t have the income, access and rights to get these basic necessities; ii. is caused by a) people’s inability to get well-paying jobs because they didn’t have enough education and there weren’t enough jobs to begin with; and b) governments as well as civil society failing to deliver enough public services and goods such as roads, schools, and health clinics because of mismanagement and corruption. c. Thus, to reduce poverty, governments, companies and civil society need to work together to sustain rapid economic growth for several decades and to help people get a slice of the expanded pie of jobs and businesses opportunities that result from faster economic growth. The sure-fire steps to do this include: i. raising investments in people by giving them more opportunities to get an education and investments in companies that would hire more of these educated workers; ii. building infrastructure such as schools, roads, and health clinics through proper management of funds and programs; and iii. protecting the rights of individuals and families necessary for civic participation and human flourishing. d. Specifically, for letter g. above to work, it makes more sense to spend money on programs that directly reduce poverty such as: i. promoting microfinance: providing families with small loans helps them start or expand businesses which augments their incomes and builds their credit history for future borrowing from banks; ii. building roads and ports: a well maintained road and port network connects people to their workplace, farmers to markets that pay a higher price for their produce and tourists to local resorts all of which raise personal well-being and incomes; iii. investing in rural development: providing education and infrastructure in rural areas (where the majority of poor families are) raises the productivity and wages of rural workers which lifts families out of poverty and releases surplus rural workers for manufacturing jobs which raises wages even further. iv. investing in people: providing people with scholarships for vocational education addresses the needs of students who are cut out for high valued blue collar work.
Short training programs for business process outsourcing (BPO) jobs will help workers find well-paid jobs. v. establishing health clinics: expanding the number of public health clinics, upgrading the capacities of midwives, and increasing the number of public sector nurses and doctors is a cost-effective way of reducing maternal, child and other deaths. vi. building sanitation and water delivery systems: providing people with clean water and safe ways to dispose waste is proven to reduce sicknesses and deaths due to water-borne diseases.
5. It assumes that poor people need to be freely supplied with artificial contraceptives and information about these because they need or want to limit their family size but are too poor to know about them or to buy them. They do NOT.
a. Large families that are poor are not so because they have too many children. The more likely reason why some families are poor is the limited schooling of the household head. Based on a subset of families with heads that were employed taken from the 2000 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, 78%-90% of heads of poor families across family size did not finish a high school education. b. Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government professor, Lant Pritchett (1994) affirm that parents who have large families want large families, that is, parents want the children they actually beget. He found that variations in desired fertility rates explained 90% of the variations in actual fertility rates across countries. c. The Balisacan and Pernia (2002) study shows that persons get the full returns on their education only if they have access to jobs that pay good wages and to markets that pay good prices for the goods they produce; agrarian reform and irrigation alleviate poverty. d. The 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) demonstrates that a considerably large majority of married Filipino women already know (more than 98%) and have used (77%) at least one method of contraception or other. e. The same 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) likewise shows that only less than 1% of women cannot afford contraception. f. THUS, it would be better to spend in providing for the real and immediate needs of the Filipino people. For example, instead of spending P3 billion year for the next five years to fund the annual supply of pills of 366,300 women for five years (most of whom could buy them on their own), we could this spend this same amount on any four projects:
i. to build 19,892 classrooms which would serve 895,140 students (i.e. this would wipe out the 2,053 classroom backlog of Eastern Visayas nine times over); ii. to pay the salaries of 12,500 teachers a year for five years; iii. to construct the 107,142 houses which would give homes to 535,710 Filipinos (this would be more than five times President Aquino’s program of building 20,000 houses for low-salaried personnel which they would be amortize over 30 years); iv. to pay the salaries of 12,500 skilled birth attendants for five years whose increased presence in the delivery of births has been identified by the Department of Health as major factor in reducing maternal deaths.
6. It neglects the fact that societies that have aggressively pushed for contraception are now suffering from a “demographic winter” and serious demographic imbalance with daunting consequences, and are desperately trying to reverse it. They are failing because of the contraceptive mentality that has pervaded their societies.
a. Since Singapore now has the 4th lowest Total Fertility Rate (TFR), with 1.25, next only to Hongkong, Macao, and Bosnia & Herzegovena (World Population Prospects, 2010) its former Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew (2011) stated in speech: “At these low birth rates, we will rapidly age and shrink…So we need young immigrants. Otherwise our economy will slow down, like the Japanese economy. We will have a less dynamic and less thriving Singapore. This is not the future for our children and grandchildren.” He repeated the same idea again in a speech in 2012. b. Civil Service College (Singapore) Senior Visiting Fellow and Forbes Magazine journalist Joel Kotkin (2010) predicted that one of these consequences would clearly be economic: “…a catastrophic plunge in the country's birth rate--a problem plaguing many of the world's affluent economies--could undermine Singapore's success.” This was admitted by Lee Kwan Yew himself in the article above. c. The TFR of Japan is already below replacement level, the 6th lowest in the world: 1.32 as of 2010 (World Population Prospects, 2010). Paraphrasing Cornelius (1994) Kyoto Sangyo University Lecturer Julian Chapple (2004) affirms that “Japan is fast becoming the world’s oldest ever human population (by 2025, 27.3%, or 33.2 million people, will be aged over 60).” He further says, “Coupled with the aforementioned low birth rate, the problems Japan faces in the immediate future are acute. With Japan’s labour force expected to decrease by 10% in the next 25 years, the economic outlook is far from bright.” d. The TFR of Russia is already below replacement level: 1.45 as of 2010. Joe Jackson of Time (2012) reports that “Russia's population is undoubtedly in long-term decline. U.N. 16
projections showing continued falls throughout the century to an eventual population of 111 million by 2100. This has serious implications for the country's future economic growth. (Experts are already predicting a labor shortage of 14 million skilled workers by 2020.)” e. Victor Yasmann (2006) likewise affirms that “the demographic crisis has not only economic, but geopolitical implications. In the future, Russia, whose land makes up 30 percent of Eurasia, may simply have too few people to control its territory.” f. The TFR of Canada is already below replacement level: 1.65 as of 2010. According to the website of the Real Women of Canada (2002), “The sharp decline in Canada's population will inevitably result in an acute labour shortage, beginning with skilled technical and trades workers. Next, teachers, health-care workers, information technology experts and academics will be in short supply…. The biggest impact of our aging population, however, will be on government services. Today, there are four workers for every one retiree, but in another 25 years, there will be only two workers for every retiree.”
g. The TFR of Korea is already below replacement level, the 5th lowest in the world: 1.29 as of 2010. Chief U.N. representative of the American Family Association of New York, Vincenza Santorino (2010) reports that “Korea has the lowest fertility rate among the 30 OECD (most developed) nations: 1.19 in 2008, its population has started to decline and the population is aging rapidly. This has to be put into perspective. The Korean Government has had a very strong “family planning” policy since 1962. Now they are concerned about the consequences they have wrought. One of the officials, in his opening remarks stated outright that the current population situation ‘is not sustainable.’” Notice the upward trend from 2008 to 2010: this suggests that Korea could be attempting to reverse the trend, learning from its previous mistake. The question is, will they succeed? h. The TFR of Iran is already below replacement level: 1.77 as of 2010. Journalist Vahid Salemi (2012) reports that “in a major reversal of once far-reaching family planning policies, authorities (of Iran) are now slashing its birth-control programs in an attempt to avoid an aging demographic similar to many Western countries that are struggling to keep up with state medical and social security costs.” i. The TFR of China is already below replacement level: 1.54 as of 2010 (Index Mundi, 2011). In February 2008, Zhao Baige, Vice Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of admitted that the government is planning to shift from a one-child to a two-child policy “because it is damaging the economy and creating a demographic time bomb” (The Times Online, 2008 as quoted by Jill Stanek).
Rich countries have instituted subsidies to encourage child bearing but to no success; their populations remain moribund. The table below shows titles of news articles that show the desperation of these countries that have reached “below replacement” level in bringing back a demographic spring: Mother Russia offers cash to spark baby boom The Independent, 11 May 2006 Baby-short Korea unveils slew of incentives The Straits Times, 21 July 2008 France plans to pay cash for babies The Guardian, 22 September 2005 Germans get incentives for having babies The Associated Press, 3 January 2007 Baby-short Singapore to double spending on incentives: PM Reuters, 7 December 2003
k. France, Russia, Germany, Singapore, South Korea are just five of the growing number of countries that are offering incentives for women to have more babies (See Table above). The effects of these incentives have been mixed at best: total fertility rates went up as more women gave birth to babies earlier than they would have to get the “baby bonuses” but remained below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. In 2004, Joseph Chamie concluded that the efforts of countries to raise fertility rates will not be enough to bring them back to replacement levels. In 2011, Tomas Sobotka gives a similar conclusion for Europe on the impact of fertility incentives: “The overall effects of policies on fertility rates is limited and exaggerated expectations on their potential is unfounded.” l. Chapman University professor and Forbes Magazine journalist, Joel Kotkin (2012) explains that, sadly, “there may not be too much the bureaucracies can do immediately to address these problems. Clearly adding more degrees per capita or bringing in more foreign expertise, as is common in Singapore and Hong Kong, has not addressed looming baby shortage… More difficult still will be shaping attitudes that restore the primacy of family that propelled these societies in the first place.”
m. And what is the reality in the Philippines so far? In 2100, our population will begin to take the shape of an inverted pyramid which means that less and less young people will be supporting more and more older people (Philippines, 2010).
7. It fails to consider that historically, an aggressive push for contraception has always preceded legalization of abortion. In the process, and ultimately, it is the woman who suffers.
a. The psycho-sociological studies of George Akerlof (1996, 1998), show strong empirical evidence that the widespread use of contraception has several social ills including abortion b. In his book, the philosopher, Donald DeMarco (1999) cited figures from studies made in some countries in Europe that showed how among couples who had the habit of contracepting (England) or right after contraception was fully legalized (Sweden) or where contraception “was almost unrestricted” (Switzerland), abortions were much higher. The figures in these studies show compelling evidence that “increased contraception does not reduce the incidence of abortion… (but instead) tends to establish a contraceptive mentality, which in turn, leads to more abortion.” (Italics provided in the original quote.) c. Rhonheimer and Murphy (2010) further argue that a more serious consequence of the contraceptive mentality that arises from the use of contraception is how abortion “intentionally, can become… (just one more) means of contraception.” (Italics provided in the original quote.) This happens when, “one who is in favour of abortion out of a contraceptive mentality would not be in the least disposed to discuss whether an embryo or a fetus is a human being; he would simply dispute this –
despite all evidence to the contrary – our would consider it irrelevant and ignore the issue.” d. Of contraception and abortion, Alvare (2011) quotes the economist, Timoty Reichert (2010) as saying that both are “complementary forms of insurance that resemble primary insurance and reinsure one. If contraception fails, abortion is there as a fail-safe.” He further demonstrates how the data support Reichert’s theory. “His theory predicts a rise in the resort to both contraception and abortion until ‘equilibrium’ levels of sexual activity are reached after which abortion rates should remain ‘constant.’ This is what happened after abortion was legalized in 1973 (about 8 years after the Supreme Court declared access to contraception a constitutional right). Then beginning in the late 1980s and continuing to today, abortion rates began to decline, and then to stabilize. Needless to say, women not only most often pay the financial costs, but also the physical and psychological costs of abortion unduly” (Alvare, 2011). e. The authoritative gynecology textbook Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility (Fritz and Speroff, 2010) affirm the direct relationship between contraception and abortion: “However, the need for abortion services will persist because contraceptive failures account for about half of the 1.2 million annual induced abortions in the U.S.” f. Wyser-Pratte (2000) shows one way that abortion can become “legal” in her very revealing arguments. “RU-486, or mifepristone, can work as a contraceptive, as an emergency contraceptive, or as an abortifacient. It has the potentially to dramatically increase the privacy of procreative choice. For this to happen, RU-486 must fall under the protection of contraception law rather than the law of abortion. Contraception law constitutionally guarantees access to contraception, including emergency contraception. RU-486, because of its many uses blurs the line between contraception and abortion. Used within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, RU-486 offer a sare and more private alternative to surgical abortion. Although it has received FDA approval, RU-486 has unresolved legal status in this country. The law needs to embrace this new technology and protect women’s access to it under the law of contraception. Without such protection, RU-486 may not be available to women, thereby limiting women’s privacy and liberty interests regarding procreative choice.”
8. It fails to see that the contraceptive lifestyle destroys the family and promotes undesirable sexual behaviour, both antithetical to genuine Filipino values.
a. According to Nobel prize winner George Akerlof (1996, 1998), who combines the study of economics and psychology, wide contraceptive use leads to more premarital and extramarital sex, more fatherless children, more single mothers, more poverty, more abortions; and also a decline of marriage, less domesticated men, more psychologically
troubled adolescents, more crimes, more social pathology and poverty. Many other studies reached the same conclusion. b. The contraceptive mentality has plagued China long and hard, as it was promoted with savage ferocity from the highest levels of government through its one-child policy. However, in February 2008, Zhao Baige, Vice Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China “revealed that there is concern at the highest levels that the policy is already tearing apart the fabric of society” (The Times Online, 2008 as quoted by Jill Stanek). China, one of the biggest practitioner and promoter of the contraceptive mentality and its practice, has finally admitted one of the most profound effects of the contraceptive mentality: the destruction of society. c. Professed liberal and Harvard Director for AIDS Prevention, Edward C. Green (2009) in answering the question why the promotion and use of the condom did not succeed in lowering HIV/AIDS in Africa, said, “One reason is ’risk compensation.’ That is, when people think they're made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.” d. Crisostomo (2012) reports, “HIV/AIDS cases will rise by 14,000 this year, according to projections by the Department of Health (DOH).” She further reports, quoting Gerard Belimac, program manager for the department’s National AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention and Control Program, that most of these case are people between 1539 years old who “were often educated about HIV/AIDS and knew how the virus was transmitted… (yet) still engaged in risky practices.” Even without the RH Bill and the free distribution of condoms, risky behavior is proceeding at an alarming pace. e. However, authentic Filipino values as regards sexual practice are not even anywhere near “risky sex.” Filipinos value chastity and it is unfortunate that “at present where the cultural revolution is slowly seeping into Tagalog culture, chastity becomes less valued” (Tabbada, 2005). Thus, aside from talking about the rise of “risky sexual behavior” in the country, we ought to be talking also (and more so) about socially unacceptable sexual behaviour such as pre-marital sex and extramarital sex. f. Ramos (2008) reports that there has been an “alarming rise in teenage pregnancies noted.” This fact actually proves the case for the loss of the culture of chastity among our youth which is at the root of the teenage pregnancy problem. Extending Green’s “risk compensation” hypothesis to heterosexual sex among teens, it is easy to see how the accessibility of contraception can only lead first, to more pre-marital sex and then, possibly, to teenage pregnancy. Thus, the availability of contraception lessens further the value of the traditionally Filipino culture of chastity.
SECTION 3: ETHICAL ARGUMENTS
The RH Bill is harmful to Filipino society because it completely disregards authentic ethical principles that are at the heart of Philippine society.
1. Contraception by itself is unethical – not from a religious, but from a human point of view.
a. Peñacoba (2012) elaborates step by step why contraception is humanly unethical. i. “Ethics is not based on numbers… nor on religious beliefs…but on reason. Ethics is all about the truth of being human –the truth about what makes up to the dignity of each and every human person. ii. “Holistic Ethics identify three of those amazing capacities in man –our intelligence to pursue the truth, our free will to pursue the good and our sexuality to pursue love and family. iii. “Let us now focus on human sexuality. The starting point is the observation of a fact: we all consider human sexuality as loaded with a special dignity –as intrinsically connected with the dignity of the person… We can find in all cultures and legislations countless examples of this universal recognition: there is something to human sexuality that makes it an intrinsically important part of the dignity of the person. iv. “The extreme case of rape (vis-à-vis married love) can help us to identify the key meaning/value (of human sexuality)… in one case the husband and wife are expressing marital love through their sexuality: a love with the high qualities of total self-giving (till death), unconditional love (for better or for worse) and life-giving love (open to form family with you). Such quality love is recognized, sung and praised unceasingly in all cultures of all centuries as expressing not only a top human dignity but even sacred or connected with the divinities. On the other case, the rapist is not loving the woman at all but rather using her –her sexuality– for his own satisfaction. The feeling of rage we feel when sexuality has been abused by a rapist is symmetrical to the highest regard we give to marriage and conjugal act. In one case the person is used in her sexuality while in the other she is loved sexually with the highest human love. v. “We have arrived now at the most basic principle of sexual ethics: Sexual activity is ethical and meaningful –it is really human and great– in as much as it expresses marital love.
vi. “The key to the high dignity of the conjugal act between husband and wife…(is) that with their bodies they are expressing a total, self-giving love; in a sense, with their body language they are saying: Here I am, I am giving my all to you, all of myself –including my possible fertility– to you. And so, the ethical evaluation is that the natural conjugal act is fully human –in keeping with high human dignity. On the other hand, if they practice contraception they are not expressing total love as if “saying by doing”: I enjoy this but I do not want to give myself totally to you –I will withhold my/your possible fertility. And so the ethical evaluation is that contraception detracts from the high dignity of human sexuality –that of expressing a total, unconditional and life-giving love.”
2. Promoting a law that runs against ethical principle is itself unethical: it goes against the basic principles of social ethics and will eventually destroy society.
a. It is true that a country’s laws cannot forbid unethical behaviour, especially if it does not affect other people; however, social ethics demand that the government not promote such unethical behaviour. b. A case in point is indulging in pornography. It is one thing for the government not to stop teenagers and married individuals from engaging in pornography in the privacy of their rooms. It is altogether another story if the government were to promote pornography by freely showing these on government-run television. c. The government does not distribute free cigarettes; it even warns people that “cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health”; and yet there is absolutely no general consensus on smoking as being unethical. On the other hand, as has been demonstrated above, contraception is unethical. Would it be too much to ask for the government, if it refuses to warn people about it, at least not to promote it by distributing contraceptives for free, much less “to mandate education of the upcoming generation for them to consider contraception as normal and good for health and country?” (Peñacoba, 2012) d. In other words, a law like the RH Bill is a “type of law (that) would be encouraging citizens to harm their personal dignity (while at the same time making them consider) it neutral or even good. The final effect is already visible in the Western countries. Losing the sense dignity of the human sexuality can only weaken marriages and families.” (Peñacoba, 2012)
3. The distribution of contraceptives that have abortifacient properties (as mentioned in the Medical Arguments above) goes against the unborn Filipino’s human right to life. 4. The distribution of contraceptives that harm the health of the Filipino citizens and the environment goes against the Filipino’s human right to health.
5. Facilitating the mutilation of healthy body parts through vasectomy and ligation is a violation of the dignity of the human body and the human person. Indeed, it is most ironic that “the only medical procedures intended to destroy or inhibit healthy organs are those aimed at the male and female reproductive systems” making male and female sexual sterilization the 2nd most common medical procedure after abortion (Human Life International’s Pro-Life Talking Points, 2010). 6. The mandate to educate children in a government’s sex education curriculum goes against the Filipino parents’ human right to educate their children in their own legitimate values.
a. Princeton Professor Robert P. George and Melissa Moschella (2011) affirm that everyone from either side of the political divide and of whatever religion should refuse the proposal that government force parents – even those in public schools – “to send their children to classes that may contradict their moral and religious values on matters of intimacy and personal conduct… (as) such policies violate parents’ rights, whether they are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or of no religion at all.” b. Parents have the natural right to protect their children from psychological damage. The latest findings of neurophysiologists and psychiatrists on the teen-age brain that is well documented in the website of Dr. Judith Reisman show that the human brain does not reach full maturity until 21 years old. When children are exposed to graphic sexual material their brains are unable to process them and in some cases it can cause permanent trauma that is psychologically harmful to the child. c. Situmorang (2011) in one study in Indonesia mentioned that “In-school late adolescents who get the information of sexual reproductive health from family are less likely to have premarital sexual intercourse.” d. The study of Silva (2011) on the effectiveness of school-based sex education programs on abstinent behavior (though it admitted of some limitations) found that “the overall mean effect size for abstinent behavior was very small, close to zero.” On the other hand, one of only two moderators (that) appeared to have a significant effect is parental participation.
7. Considering how there are other laws (e.g., the Magna Carta for Women) that cover the acceptable parts of the Bill, the risk the government is taking to expose its officials and citizens to occasions of corruption and to endanger the sovereignty of the nation is unacceptable.
a. It has long been acknowledged that the U.S. in particular has been promoting worldwide a campaign for population control among the least developed countries
(LDC’s) – among which the Philippines belongs in their list – in order to preserve their political and national interests (Kissinger, 1974). b. It is no small wonder that the Philippines received huge sums of money from USAID to promote a population control program which included, among other things, artificial contraceptives (Pedrosa, 2012). c. Aside from the U.S. government, huge moneys are likewise pouring from private citizens with the same contraceptive and abortion agenda. Hoopes (2012) writes about the Gates Foundation is raising and pouring in millions of dollars to: i. “Convince the world that the best way to fight poverty is to prevent poor people from being born. ii. “Put systems in place to make every conceivable contraceptive available to the poor at all times. iii. “Ease the way for legal abortion.” d. A study by Lu, Schneider, Gibbins, et al. (2010), ironically funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, showed “that DAH (development assistance for health) to government had a negative and significant effect on domestic government spending on health.” Roodman (2012), though a critic of this work, nevertheless revealed the implication of its finding: “health aid could be entirely displaced into non-health uses.” The study’s finding was later defended by one of the authors as remaining “remarkably robust both to new data and the testing of an extremely wide range of models” (Murray, 2012). e. In fact, the supposedly “neutral and objective” Philippine media has already been compromised through millions of dollars, and very specific individuals have been identified as having been “coopted by the well-oiled RH lobby and PR machinery.” (Sangalang, 2012) f. This is the new form imperialism – “contraceptive imperialism” – which the Philippines is being subjected to. Clowes (n.d.) paraphrases the Senegalist novelist Himidou Kane when he wrote “A more permanent solution is to get the people to accept new attitudes through a systematic program of propaganda. Once the saturation campaign has succeeded, the populace controls themselves. The best part is that they will think that they arrive at important decisions on their own — when, in reality, they are being manipulated in subtle but powerful and effective ways.” This is what Kane called “colonization of the mind” and the fact that so many Filipinos are going against the culture of life by promoting the RH Bill or thinking that they are promoting life precisely by pushing it, simply means that this colonization has begun to succeed.
8. The driving force behind the RH Bill is unethical: it is population control.
a. Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the main proponents of the RH Bill categorically denies that it is for population control. According to a report by Patria (2011), Lagman said, “There is nothing in the law that promotes population control. The mitigation of population growth is only incidental to the effects of RH program.” In fact, the Bill does not contain phrases like “birth control,” “population control,” “reduction of population.” Instead, what it has are the following: “family planning,” “population development,” “manageable population,” “balanced population distribution.” Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that despite the absence of the language of control, the RH Bill is, in fact, a population control measure. b. Oplas (2012) demonstrates how two sections of the Bill, in particular sections 7 and 20, can only be interpreted as government means for population control. In fact, one author of the Bill, Rep. Kimi Cojuangco, actually admitted this herself when, according to a report by Cassandra (2011) she confirmed that “Definitely…it’s a population measure” adding afterwards, though she wasn’t asked, that “…it’s not population control.” However, both terms are practically synonymous as the meanings of the words “measure” and “control,” that can be found in any standard dictionary, imply. Moreover, RH Bill authors Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Rep. Emmi De Jesus of Gabriela demanded that provisions in the bill that promoted population control “must be deleted” (Gabriela Women’s Party, 2011). Pagaduan-Araullo (2012) after referring to several sections of the RH Bill succinctly stated, “All told, HB4244 is undoubtedly a population control bill in the proverbial reproductive health clothing.” c. This understanding of the RH Bill as a population control measure is not confined to local commentators only but even to foreign observers as well. Baklinski (2012) quotes the director of Research and Training at Human Life International, Brian Clowes, as saying that the language of the Bill “seems to be written by the big international organizations like Center for Reproductive Rights, Marie Stopes International, and International Planned Parenthood Federation….The language you see [in the bill] is the language of the international population control cartel, not the language of the Filipino people,” d. The reason that population control is unethical is that it treats human beings as mere numbers and statistics instead of persons with dignity and removes from them their natural right to self-determination (UNESCO, 2011), i.e., to determine “the content of (their) willing” (George & Lee, 2008). As Columbia University History professor, Matthew Connelly (as quoted in Eberstadt, 2012), said, “The great tragedy of population control, the fatal misconception, was to think that one could know other people’s interests better than they knew it themselves”. e. Historically, population control movements all over the world have been full of abuse. For example, from the 1960s all the way to the 1980s, “nations from Mexico to 26
India implemented coercive population control policies that forcibly sterilized millions of women, forced millions more to have abortions, and also forcibly sterilized millions of men” (Human Life International’s Pro-Life Talking Points, 2009). f. Right here in the Philippines, Antonio de los Reyes (2011), who served as Chief Executive Officer of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) in the Marcos era, testifies to “a subsystem of indirect coercion that capitalizes on the vulnerability of people in poverty-stricken countries” which came in the form of male vasectomy and tubal ligation. In his testimony he describes the inhuman conditions in which patients were rounded up from their homes and then gathered by the scores into small clinics to be sterilized. They were bribed into doing so by attractive incentives. To be added to these were the different contraceptives that were likewise distributed.
g. This is but a realization of an ideology that started in the West and moved forward through “cooked calculations to ‘prove’ that Third World children actually had negative economic value” (Zubrin, 2012). In his impressive essay, author Robert Zubrin, enumerates the main qualities that characterize these population programs until now: top-down dictatorial, dishonest, coercive, medically irresponsible and negligent, cruel, callous, and abusive of human dignity and human rights, and racist. h. Clearly, the nation’s past as a subject to blatant population control is something that the Philippines would not wish to begin to relive by passing the RH Bill.
SECTION 4: LEGAL ARGUMENTS9
The RH Bill is harmful to Filipino society because it violates the Philippine Constitution and seeks to enshrine into law forced and artificial “rights” that may even threaten more basic and genuine human rights.
1. The sections of the Bill that promote the distribution of oral contraceptives, even FDA –approved, violate the Philippine Constitution.
a. Section 12 of the Philippine Constitution requires the State to protect “the life of the unborn from conception.” This means that even the State recognizes that the embryo that is formed after fertilization is already a human being.
A good number of the legal arguments in applicable sections of this handbook were based on a paper of Imbong, Jo “QUESTIONABLE RIGHTS RHETORIC in REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LEGISLATION,” presented at the University of Asia and the Pacific on 4 March 2011 and on Issue Paper #10 of the Alliance for the Family Foundation (written by Valenzona, Linda).
b. Since practically most, if not all, of our FDA-approved contraceptives are approved as well in the U.S., the Guttmacher Institute (2005), citing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, can help us understand how the free distribution of oral contraceptives by the government may violate the Philippine Constitution: “Food and Drug Administration–approved contraceptive drugs and devices act to prevent pregnancy in one or more of three major ways: by suppressing ovulation, by preventing fertilization of an egg by a sperm or by inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining.” i. “The primary mechanism of action of "combined" oral contraceptives (those containing both estrogen and a progestin) is the suppression of ovulation. In addition, these pills may interfere with sperm and egg transport, affect the fluids within a woman's reproductive tract or affect sperm maturation or the readiness of the uterine lining for implantation.” The highlighted words and those in the following numbers (ii-iv) are all veiled and deceptive language that means this type of contraceptive can also cause abortion. ii. “Progesterone-only pills and injectables can suppress ovulation; however, other modes of action that inhibit fertilization and implantation are considered more important for these methods than for methods containing estrogen. For example, progestin-only methods can cause a woman's cervical mucus to thicken, reducing sperm and egg transport; interfere with sperm maturation; or decrease the readiness of the uterine lining for implantation.” iii. “As with other hormonal contraceptives, there is no single mechanism of action for emergency contraception. The method is considered to act mainly by suppressing ovulation; it may also reduce sperm and egg transport or decrease the readiness of the uterine lining for implantation.” iv. “The primary mode of action for IUDs is inhibition of fertilization, by causing the cervical mucus to thicken (for progesterone-releasing IUDs) or by altering the fluids in the fallopian tubes and uterus (for copper-releasing IUDs). In addition, IUDs affect the lining of the uterus in a way that may be unfavorable for implantation.” c. Considering i.-iv. above one will have to wonder which oral contraceptive would not violate the Philippine Constitution. d. Moreover, section 15 of the Philippine Constitution holds the State accountable to “protect and promote the right to health of the people and instil health consciousness among them.” However, the contraceptive drugs and devices that the government are asking the taxpayers to shoulder for free distribution to the public through the RH Bill have already been shown to have deleterious effects on human health. This is in utter defiance of the Constitution. 28
e. More seriously, the DOH has been blatantly disingenuous about the connection between pills and cancer. In their Frequently Asked Questions page, the question “Does the pill cancer?” their rather categorical answer was: “No. The pill has been used safely by millions of women for over 30 years and has been tested more than any other drug. Studies show that the pill can protect women from some forms of cancer, such as cancers of the ovary and uterus. More clinical studies are currently being conducted to determine if there is any association of pill use with other forms of cancer.” While highlighting the “advantages” of pills, it egregiously omits the already welldocumented and known risks. For the primary government health agency to deny this information to its people is almost criminal; certainly, it is highly irresponsible. f. Section 28, e) of the prohibited acts that penalizes disinformation on the intent of HB 4244 violates the constitutionally protected freedom of oppositors to express their legitimate objections to this proposed law. Section 4 of the Constitution states, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
g. Section 28 a) 3) and b) and c) penalizes non-referral by medical professionals, noncooperation by public officials, non-cooperation by employers in the provision of reproductive health care services even if they do so on grounds of rights of conscience; this would be a violation of the free exercise of religion which is protected by Section 5 of the Constitution: “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”
2. The RH bill’s human rights framework foreshadows an ominous rights landscape for the Philippines.
a. The whole point behind all RH legislation in the Philippines is a design to apply and extend international human rights law into sexual and reproductive entitlements in this country. The idea is to expand international laws well beyond their current scope and to impose new laws and entitlements (worldwide), even upon individual nations like the Philippines that do not explicitly assent to the changes. (Center for Family and Human Rights Institute [CFAM], 2003) b. Three international conferences from which these laws were culled are of note: i. the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); ii. the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) ; iii. the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China. 29
c. Only CEDAW which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in the late 1980’s. The ICPD Programme of Action and the Beijing Declaration are not treaties but mere “recommendations” whose implementation rely on particular initiatives of state parties like the Philippines. Nevertheless it is on ICPD that the RH bill relies for its definition of “reproductive health”: “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so” (Par. 7.2, ICPD). d. RH includes abortion in the ICPD document.- The ICPD Programme of Action refers to reproductive health care as to include— “inter alia [among others], include abortion;” (Par. 7.6, ICPD). The Programme of Action also states that: “in circumstances where abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe (Par. 8.25, ICDP). e. There is a twisting and forcing of meaning in traditionally understood rights.
Right to bodily integrity and personal security Traditionally understood to relating to custodial rights. Now, it is employed in cases against sexual violence and assault at the hands of a spouse or partner or others or against state policies that prohibit women from receiving family planning services.
Right to privacy
Traditionally, the right is understood to refer to privacy in relation to a person’s home and correspondence. In this regard, the Human Rights Committee, the treaty body which monitors governmental compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has stated that—"sexuality is covered by the concept of privacy” and that "moral issues are not exclusively a matter of national concern in that they are subject to review for consistency with international human rights instruments".
Right to scientific progress
Traditionally understood to relate to technology transfers between countries of the North and the South. Today, it is interpreted by Treaty Monitoring Bodies to also include a woman’s right to control her reproductive processes through access to methods of contraception, and access to safe abortion.
Right to education
Traditionally, we understand it only in relation to literacy. Today, since sexuality is recognized as an element of the human personality, literacy is deemed critical to reproductive health, hence, there is school-based “Mandatory Sexuality Education” in the RH bill.
Right to equality in marriage and divorce
Traditionally understood to refer to the equal freedom of women and men to voluntarily enter into marriage and divorce. Today, the right is applied to women's ability to control and make decisions about their bodies.
Right to information
Traditionally understood only in relation to the media and a free press. Now, the right to information also refers to a woman’s ability to protect herself against sexual exploitation, abuse or infection. The right is also interpreted to entitle a woman to .reproductive decision making, that is, a woman’s ability to make fully “informed choices”.
Traditionally understood to mean equal treatment, equal opportunity, and equal protection of law. Now, “the last 20 years have seen the development of the idea of substantive equality, which notes that some distinctions are necessary to promote rights for people who are differently situated . . . Therefore, different approaches to girls and boys in reproductive and sexual health policy and programs must be based on gender related differentials”, or what the RH calls “sexual orientation.”
Right to health
Traditionally understood to refer to the right of individuals to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Today the right brings increased attention to women’s “reproductive health” issues.
Why should the bill’s “rights” language be feared? Once a “right” is installed and buttressed with punitive sanctions, any person who defies the claimer of “rights” can be hailed to court, or even as far as before International Human Rights bodies (as CRR would have it, and it is in fact doing). A right constitutes an entitlement that is demandable against the whole world. Government has then to guarantee the right and create mechanisms with which to enforce the right. The bill prepares the way to a “right to abortion”. However, “rights” which are not based on genuine ethics cannot be protected by law to the detriment of other more basic and authentically human rights. 31
g. The Philippine government must only remember that no international treaty binds the Philippines to install reproductive rights. Moreover, no international instrument acknowledges reproductive and sexual rights. The path of irresponsible and unreasonable legislation is a dreadful path: If an act is made legal, it will be perceived as moral. If an act is perceived as moral, it will become a norm. If it is observed by all as a norm, then it is too late. By then, the nation’s soul will have been ruined. For the government, that is not mere recklessness: that is a breach of public trust.
Our national hero, the older Benigno Aquino, used to say that “the Filipino is worth dying for.” What he meant was that Filipinos deserve the best solutions to the problems that they are now facing. While it is true that today’s Filipinos, especially the poor, have problems that need immediate solutions, the ones that those responsible for helping them must resort to are those that respect the dignity of the human person and the laws of nature. Otherwise, the solution will not only not solve, but even compound their problems. From the arguments presented in this Handbook, clearly, the RH Bill is one such solution. Clearly rooted in the West’s manipulative, secularist ideology, the RH Bill proposes a “quick fix” which is unethical and unconstitutional. Moreover, under the guise of being pro-poor and – irony of ironies “pro-life” – it clearly goes against sustainable development and only takes away funds for the real needs of the poor. Thus, whatever "band-aid" amendments may be proposed by well-intentioned proponents of the RH Bill in order to make the bill more palatable to those opposing it, the underlying principles behind the proposed law are inherently flawed. For this reason, the RH Bill should not be passed. The 42 scientists and academics who replied to the first statement of some Ateneo de Manila professors in defence of the RH Bill spoke about a couple of sections of the Bill that deserved commendation: the ones that called for “the expansion of midwives and birth attendants, as well as greater access to obstetric care… Unfortunately, these two sections are the weakest in the bill” (Signatories of the International Response to some Ateneo de Manila Professors’ Statement on the RH Bill, as quoted in Cortes, 2012). Moreover, the Magna Carta for Women and many other laws besides (e.g. Family Code of 1987, Anti-VAWC Law) that more than ensure that women are respected and empowered, really make the passage of the RH Bill totally needless. The problems of our country are real and difficult. However, this does not excuse the government, or every individual Filipino for that matter, to seek and justify palliative solutions. Every Filipino is a potential hero and every hero masters and gives himself. It is this self-mastery and real self-giving love that we should envision for our country. It is on programs that develop and enhance these virtues that the government ought to spend its millions in crafting and promoting. It may take some time to see their results but these will be genuine and deeply rooted as they are based on respect for the human person and the laws of nature. Our national hero, Jose Rizal wrote: Only virtue can save! If our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love!
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