In the Philippines, the issue of passing a law about reproductive health has caused such a stir that mass demonstrations have been staged by those pro and against it; where even a famous boxing champ is pitted against a famous international singer due to their opposing beliefs in the issue. As I watched GMA News TV’s Grand Debate which pooled together veterans in the issue to discuss the various factors of the bill and its impact to the society, I can’t help but think of how naive the country is to the real problems we face now.
Yes it is true that corruption is a larger problem, but overpopulation is a ballooning problem too. With the government’s lack of fund and inability to really eradicate poverty in the nation, it cannot hope to merely focus on one problem without solving another. We can see how hard the current administration’s efforts are now at eradicating corruption – there are all these issues of never heard anomalies in various government offices – but just the same, corruption is not the only problem to be solved.
Still for me, the RH bill seeks not only to eradicate poverty and solve overpopulation but also to educate the people about reproduction. Yes there are contentions that educating the young may make them more curious about sex and lead to ultimately more unwanted pregnancies and the dissolution of the value of purity and abstinence before marriage but with the current trend in our media now where sex scenes remain common even in soap operas, who will then be the educator of the young masses? With parents becoming too timid themselves and at a loss on how to teach their kids sex education, then where would the kids learn? From experience? From their peers? From the media? I then believe that proper sex education should be taught at schools where kids now a days primarily get their education. And then what about the values of abstinence and purity? Then the school, together with the home and the Church should be the one to teach and advocate it. It is not wrong to teach children about sex in a language they can understand, what is wrong and ultimately misleading is to leave them blind about the whole issue and allow them to fend for themselves with regards to the matter.
Now the other issue that I think is worth discussing is the possibility of corruption tainting this bill. We do know that part of the bill is the distribution of contraceptives to various health centers which would need funds and which could be an opportunity for corruption. Well, do we stop a good thing just to prevent an evil thing? Why can it not be that as we solve one issue – overpopulation – we still continue to solve another issue – corruption. I think family planning methods will be of a huge help to our poor countrymen in need of them but without access to such. Should we deny them this just because we fear of the other? Then perhaps all other government efforts like building better roads which become cause for corruption should be stopped as well.
The church argues that it is immoral to engage in sex without facing the responsibility of possibly bearing a child. I believe that if they were asked, sex for them is merely for procreation and not for pleasure. But I ask our clergymen. Right now, how does our society treat sex? Is it merely for procreation? Will we stay blind to the fact that many engage in it for pleasure? And how is the church addressing it? Are they educating the people about it in words that the people can understand? Or do they remain cryptic and blind about it? Now that the government is trying its best to help couples become more responsible in fulfilling the marital act, then the church opposes because it removes the responsibility connected to the act. Is bearing more child than the couple can raise responsible? And can we really bet on the couple’s self-control to engage in abstinence as the only family planning method available?
Then again, there is the argument that the government looks out not only for the Catholics of the country but also for the Muslims and other religious entities. If the Catholic Church is so opposed to the RH Bill, then doesn’t this show that they cannot hope to educate their parishioners enough about what is responsible attitude and what is not. The government gives the family the right to choose and does not force them to use the contraceptives they distribute as part of the RH bill. Wouldn’t it then be the Church’s part to educate their constituents on the options they have and how every good Catholic should view the use of contraceptives?
In a nutshell, I am pro RH Bill. I believe that it is time that the state enforces a law that looks after the welfare of the family especially the woman and at the same time have a shot at eradicating poverty. The RH Bill is after all for the poor and the uneducated (mind you – they are not exclusive to each other. I am not saying that being poor is being uneducated and vice versa). The RH Bill will solve the dozens of children one poor family has. The RH Bill will educate teenagers about sex and hopefully prevent unwanted pregnancies. Added with the guidance of the parents and the Church it can even help decrease the incidence of pre-marital sex.
When I was young, I was educated by my parents about sex. I knew what needs to known about it at my age and I knew why I had to wait for it. When I was in college, I became part of a church program called True Love Waits which teaches why sex should be saved for marriage. I was lucky. I was fortunate to know about all these things about sex. But I think about those who have timid parents; those who knew no better than to turn to their TV sets or the Internet for information. What kind of education would they have? What kind of knowledge would they learn? For them, the RH bill can do wonders.