Last Saturday, the Catholic Church mounted its forces and called for a "prayer rally" in order to make a statement to the government that they are prepared to fight tooth and nail in opposing the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
I don't even know what to say to this.
(Courtesy of raissarobles.com)
I know of many friends who are actually against the RH Bill. I cannot and will not begrudge them their opinion, based on their religious beliefs and what their (religious) leaders have told them, based on what they perceive the bill to be all about. I don't know if any of them actually managed to make it to the said show of protest at the EDSA Shrine, which was befitting as the event venue since it was clearly a religious-based opposition.
I am directing my comments and questions to the Catholic leadership in this country.
As can be gleaned by various news articles and pronouncements, there is an overwhelming support by various sectors for the passage of this bill.
The United Nations figures in today's headline of the country's most read paper, recognizing how family planning contributes to development.
Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has come out to refute how his words have been presented to suit the needs and biases of those against the bill, with special mention of the CBCP.
Business groups have publicly declared their support for the measure.
As this is a democracy, there are other religious groups existing as well, and some of them have given their support for the RH Bill.
Survey after survey have shown that majority of Filipinos want the bill to pass.
My questions/comments, then, are:
(1) If you are truly against contraception, why do you support natural methods of family planning?
This has always been my biggest concern (if that's the word I should be using) whenever the prelates would start preaching against the condom, the pill, the IUD.
Why are you so vigorously opposed to modern methods of preventing conception, calling it "anti-life" even, when they have exactly the same end as the natural methods?
I never understood why you always seemed to be on some moral high ground. I remember how, in an online forum, one of your defenders was haughtily proclaiming that because of some Catholic doctrine and how natural methods are "open to life", it is perfectly fine to push these methods.
I countered that I am not a Catholic, so I am just going by what I see as someone "not immersed": Isn't that hypocrisy?
You are basically saying that one method is better than the other, but you do realize that both those methods have the same end? Namely, not letting the egg meet the sperm. It is spelled out clearly in the term contraception.
Contra = Against
Ception = Conception
It would be akin to someone defending his method to kill another person using his bare hands ("natural" method) to wring out the life of the intended target, but saying that he is morally superior to someone who employs a gun or a hacksaw (using weapons) to achieve the same end: murdering someone.
How can you sit on your moral high horse? I see no difference.
(2) You do know that the government and (any) church are separate in any democracy?
I need to point this out because whenever you make your pronouncements on how candidates should fear your "influence" should any of them decide to vote for the RH Bill's passage, you are clearly establishing a threat - it's not even a subtle one - that secular lawmakers in a democratic country have to bow down to one specific religion's doctrine.
Do you understand what the terms "secular" and "democracy" even mean?
Yes, even though you are in denial of it, it means one thing: You in the Catholic leadership are in the same position as every other religion in the country. You are on equal footing, no one religion is supposed to be "better", and neither is one supposed to be favored. You only have an advantage in that Catholicism - imported via Spain - has been here since Magellan landed so you have almost 5 centuries of a headstart.
And I deliberately inserted the fact that Catholicism is a foreign concept to these islands, as many of your defenders like to say that it is "foreign influence" that is pushing for the modern methods of family planning. If these same people are so adamant about being "controlled" by concepts that are from other shores, they should be renouncing Catholicism this very instant.
The silence - and the hypocrisy - is deafening.
(3) Have you tried raising children or ever applied for a job?
I mean that question in the most non-antagonistic way possible.
Going with this post's title, it behooves me to wonder how is it that you think yourselves so well-versed in advising people on the ways of family life, or making claims like "contraception leads to corruption", as mentioned in last Saturday's rally.
Have you ever had a baby wake you up at night? Have you had 10 children simultaneously asking you where your next meal will be coming from? Have you had to fend off feelings of guilt, knowing in the pit of your stomach you can only send one of them to school, and just to elementary school at that? Have you tried walking around in the searing sun and horrendous rains, handing out your resumes and not hearing about a positive development in your job hunt for weeks, months, and even years? Have you even worried about where to sleep or what to wear?
The posturing, as if you had such a wealth of experience in these matters, is what is most offensive to my eyes, ears and most of all, heart.
Millions of people in this country - almost 100 million as of last count - are struggling to make it through the next day, even the next meal. Until you have come face to face with those stark realities, in an authentic way, that you have actually experienced and lived through, all your platitudes just come off as armchair pronouncements, one that is devoid of real world experience.
(4) Do you think subsidizing the distribution of modern methods of family planning is a waste of money?
Then you should be equally consistent and call for the immediate end of all subsidies provided for by government.
I highlight this because I read an online comment, saying that "condoms are legal and can be purchased anyway, don't use tax money to buy them, anyone who wishes to buy them should pay full price!"
Following that logic, we should tear down all public schools, demolish public hospitals, declare public health centers as a large deficit contributor, and so on.
These services have been provided because in a democratic government, it falls on the state to ensure that each citizen has a fighting chance of getting educated, having good health services, and everything else that make one not only have an existence, but a life. And they are given to support the most financially disadvantaged of its citizens.
Let me repeat that: it is the duty of the State to empower and equip its citizens with the right and basic tools to make it through life, whatever and however a person fashions that life to be. It is also responsible for managing the taxes it collects to fund these services - these are not "Catholic money", as some of your supporters claim they do not wish to "fund condoms" (as if that is the only thing the RH Bill provides). Public money, tax money - these are all property of the government, our "admission price" for being citizens in a democratic country. No religion can dictate a secular, democratic government what to do with it.
The RH Bill is meant to provide information and services regarding reproductive health for the country's poorest, those who don't even know where to get their next meal, much in the same way that public schools are meant for those who cannot afford it. You do not say "everyone should pay full price!" - have you seen what Catholic schools charge as tuition fees?
5. Lastly, the Philippines is not Catholic property. Deal with it.