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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Personally Yours, Sotto

One of the most vociferous critics of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, senator Tito Sotto, has been front page material this week. In the Senate, on papers both printed and electronic, on social media platforms, his name has become ubiquitous as of late.

The lightning rod, as he calls himself on ANC's Head Start.
(Courtesy of

How can he not be, when he has made himself a spectacle.

The opening salvo was on Monday, when he "opened up" about his personal experience - the death of his 5 month old son - and directly linked his wife's taking of contraceptive pills to the baby having a weak heart and causing his death.

It seems obligatory somehow to preface any statement with "not to disregard the senator's tragedy/we're sorry for your loss" if you were to criticize him. And since everyone else has done it, let's get right to the accusation he inserted in his first speech: a causal link between pills and a weak heart.

Senator, here is a fact sheet from the World Health Organization for family planning methods. I urge you - in the strongest possible terms - to use science, not emotions, to make pronouncements about causes and risks regarding something that should be used with a doctor's consultation. It illustrates (in summary view) the pill as well as the "minipill", citing method, description, how it works, effectiveness to prevent pregnancy and comments that are inimical to the particular method.


This is a July 2012 Fact Sheet from WHO, as current as it gets. Your experience in the 1970's, especially where scientific advances are concerned, will be markedly different from the experience of women nowadays who choose to go on the pill. Science is not static: in fact, the one hallmark it is known for is that old ideas and facts must give way to newer ones, especially in the face of objective evidence.

There is NO mention of heart disease as a side effect of taking pills. To illustrate a "caution", in the same fact sheet, "monthly injectables" has this written under the Comments column: "irregular vaginal bleeding common, but not harmful" - it indicates per method any effect you may have as well as the degree or severity. I invite you to take a look at what it says for both pill types. If they thought it prudent to warn people about vaginal bleeding, wouldn't a cardiac side effect be practically mandatory to mention? Yet WHO makes no statement to that effect regarding pills.

The next item that online commenters have noted was that your speech was, in almost perfect fashion, lifted from a blogger, who calls herself Sarah.

(See as just one of many, many items now online asking the same thing.)

I was surprised to learn that you are an English major, so the concept of plagiarism should not be at all foreign or unheard of. In fact, I would think it cardinal that this concept must have been drilled into all English majors as one of the most reprehensible things you can do. Your interview on ANC's Head Start with Karen Davila didn't really illuminate the questions raised by the plagiarism issue. You claimed that you and the blogger were quoting Dr. McBride. But in your speech, quoting your source, you said "According to Dr. McBride..."

Does that even make sense?

If you were quoting the doctor directly, wouldn't she have said "My research indicates..." and not mention herself in the third person? (I know someone who refers to himself that way, but then we've also written him off as an idiot.)

Did you plagiarize it from the blogger, senator? Yes or no?

On the second day of your speech, you adopted a more combative stance - was it to counter the crying episode of the previous day? - and in movie-like fashion, declared that you're barely getting warmed up. This is exactly why I prefer facts, not posturings. You are not on camera to entertain - not anymore, Senator. This is a piece of legislation that has an effect in the lives of mothers and children. You would be well advised to stop the emotional outbursts, as these may have worked in your previous occupations.

Not here. Not now.

I will wait for the replay of your interview, because you touched on how the RH Bill "restricts" choice, on how the bill is intruding in the Church (?), and how local officials should have the right to decide on what their public health centers contain owing to "freedom of choice". I saw the live interview but my head was spinning after one statement after the other from you - I had to check and see that it really was coming from a senator of this country.

Let's tackle your statements in the Karen Davila interview in the next post.

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