- Q & A on the Reproductive Health Bill 4244
- Catholic Apologetics Q & A – Birth Control
- Mga Tanong at Sagot Tungkol sa RH Bill 4244 Ni Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
1) What is reproductive health?
The UN defines reproductive health as the state of 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. It states that people have the right to a “satisfying and safe sex life.” The conjugal union is natural and proper in marriage, but in contrast, reproductive health disposes all people, including children and adolescents, to the sexual act and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to reproduce, provided that these are not against the law. (UN Cairo Conference, Program of Action).
Following this definition, if having a satisfying sex life results in an unwanted pregnancy, the mental anguish this causes will negatively affect the person’s mental and social well-being unless one has access to contraception and abortion. This is the convoluted reasoning behind UN agencies’ insistence that reproductive health necessarily presupposes access to contraception and abortion.
Furthermore, the Reproductive Health bill (House Bill 5043), which carries the same definition of reproductive health, will penalize with one to six months imprisonment, and/or 10-50 thousand pesos fine, parents who for example prevent their grade school and high school children from using contraceptives, or from having satisfying and safe sex. This item, along with the fact that certain contraceptives actually cause the abortion of 5-day old babies, is often ignored in supposedly unbiased and scientific surveys on the acceptability of the Reproductive Health bill.
All these are in the name of reproductive health and rights. What about the rights of parents? And the rights of the unborn?
2) What is the difference between procreation and reproduction?
Reproduction is the process by which living things replicate, to assure the continuity of their species. It is necessary for the species, but not for the individual. Reproduction, as in the case of plants and animals, does not require any bond between persons. On the other hand, procreation is the proper term for human generation as it refers to a loving act between spouses which prepares for a possible creation by God of a new person. Procreation points to a collaboration of parents with God as the ultimate source of this new life. None of these characteristics of human procreation may be found in plant and animal reproduction.
The conjugal act is like a language with two meanings: the unitive and the procreative. Through their union in the conjugal act, a man and a woman give themselves totally to each other in and through their bodies. They are telling each other: “I give myself totally to you, and I love and accept you totally; we are one flesh.” That is the unitive meaning. Furthermore, the structures and functions of the male and female reproductive systems are such that when a sexual act is performed, there is a possibility of new life to be formed. This gives a procreative meaning to the sexual union. Thus, to accept each other totally includes saying, “since I love and accept you totally as you are, including your bodily functions, I also totally accept the possibility of our love bearing fruit, the gift of a new child.” Thus, the unitive and the procreative meanings of the sexual act cannot be separated from each other.
Textbooks consistently using the term “reproduction” instead of “procreation,” even if intended for Catholic schools, should be thoroughly checked for the contraceptive mentality. They may confuse the students on the Church’s clear teaching on family and life. Presenting the views of dissenting theologians as being on equal authority with Church documents would bring about such confusion.
3) Why is contraception morally wrong?
Contraception is any action taken before, during or after the conjugal act which is aimed at impeding the process or the possible fruit of conception. In contraception, it is like the spouses telling each other, “I love you as long as we do not give birth.” In short, contraception makes the conjugal act a lie. It expresses not a total love, but rather a merely conditional or partial love. Contraception separates the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal act.
Since many contraceptives have also been shown by medical science to have various ill effects, their use could signify further contradictions and lies. It endangers then the physical well-being of the wife as well as the spiritual health of the marriage.
4) Why are natural methods of birth control not contraception?
The natural methods simply enable the wife to ascertain when she is fertile and when she is infertile. It is scientific information placed at the service of either a procreative decision or a non-procreative decision by the spouses. In this case couples do not do anything to prevent the normal consequences of the marital act from taking place. Rather, they make use of the wife’s God-given cycle in their decision whether to have another child or not for the time being.
5) In defending family and life, do we Catholics not impose our beliefs on others and violate the principles of tolerance and dialogue?
Many Protestants, believers of other religions, and even non-believers share our belief in the dignity and value of human life. Tolerance means respect for the right of other persons to profess a different opinion and belief. However, tolerance cannot be understood as believing that other peoples’ points of view are equally good as one’s own, since this would blur the lines between good and evil and renounce the judgment of a sound and well-informed conscience.
In fact, publicly proclaiming one’s own beliefs is a service for dialogue, because through this way others can know exactly what and how one thinks. One offers one’s thoughts for reflection to others while respecting their beliefs, but without assuming that all beliefs are equally valid.
Attempts to enact legislation promoting anti-family programs receive huge financial assistance and provide alluring incentives to persuade our politicians to commit themselves to their advocacy. Foreign-funded lobby groups have been operating for more than a decade to openly advocate for the enactment of population control laws, as well as abortion-friendly laws in pursuit of the UN Cairo Conference objective of universal abortion rights. It makes one wonder why countries with below replacement fertility rates, desperate for babies and spending huge sums of money to encourage their own citizens to bear more children, contradict themselves by spending huge sums of money to suppress our population growth.
All these are consistent with Henry Kissinger’s 1974 National Security Study Memorandum 200 entitled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interest” which identified the increase in world population as inimical to the interest of West. This document has been coming out in recent public debates on reproductive health policies, and is available on the internet. Do not reproductive health advocates bow down to their impositions? Is it not more correct to say that they are the ones imposing their policies on our country?
6) How should we Catholics engage questions related to family and life similar to the ones discussed in this Catechism?
Whenever we explain our desire to further strengthen the Filipino family, we should base our arguments primarily on legal, medical, economic, educational, psychological, sociological and other scientific data rather than on religious teachings alone. This translation of our faith into legitimate inputs to the policy making process helps our elected officials see more clearly the reasonableness of our advocacy.
For example, factual demographic data from the UN Population Division showing rapid ageing and collapse of the world population in 40 years, or the drop of Philippine fertility below replacement rate in 15 years, are reasonable grounds to encourage elected officials to instead opt to file bills banning contraceptive attempts to bring fertility down. The fact that contraceptives are also abortifacient and cancerous reinforces this argument. This way elected officials will see that those who promote family and life (including in their opposition to the Reproductive Health bill) are not only the Bishops, as the mass media frequently portray, but above all parents, whether Catholics or not, who truly understand the issues, not only as taught by the Church, but as supported by data from the different fields of knowledge.
We Catholics should always remember that we are not only members of God’s People, but of Philippine society as well. Hence when it comes to voting in the 2010 Elections and even beyond, and holding dialogues with our political leaders, we should carry out our responsibilities and demand our rights as citizens. When we speak with our Honorable Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors and other officials, let us highlight our place of residence in provinces and barangays rather than our parishes, our membership in civic groups rather than Church organizations, and our occupation as office workers, businessmen, farmers, fisherfolk, bus or tricycle drivers, vendors, youth and women advocates, and others. Let us emphasize to them that we are their constituents—citizens, taxpayers and voters—who have put them into office, and demand that laws protecting the Filipino Family be firmly upheld.
7) What is so wrong about the Bill that seeks to alleviate poverty targeting “the poorest of the poor and the marginalized” as its main beneficiaries?
If it were a sincere and genuine anti-poverty measure, we will certainly support it. But it’s clear overriding objective is to depopulate the country through an aggressive and coercive artificial means of birth control, pursuing a mandatory sex education program
both in private and public schools covering children from Grade 5 up to 4th year high school and spending millions of taxpayers’ money, most of whom are Catholics – like you to buy “hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe and effective family planning products and supplies” as essential medicines when pregnancy is not even a disease to be treated. These are intended to foster “a satisfying and safe sex life” thereby inciting promiscuity, courtesy of the Catholic taxpayers.
8.) Why do you say that the bill violates to the Constitution?
By seeking to depopulate the country through a Government-funded program of aggressive proliferation of contraceptives thereby fostering a contraceptive mentality to attain a “satisfying and safe sex life”, known as contraceptive sex and implementing a mandatory sex education in private and public schools covering Grade V to 4th year, it infringes the Constitutional mandate that provides : “The state recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.” (Sec 12 Art 11).
It usurps the parents’ “natural and primary right and duty” in the rearing of the youth” (Sec 12 Art ll)
By seeking to implement a massive distribution of contraception most of which are really abortifacients, it will put at great risk and endanger the health of both the mother and the unborn child . This is contrary to the Constitutional injunction “to protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception” (Sec. 12 Art ll)
By compelling healthcare providers to refer the person seeking RH services he believes to be immoral and against his conscience to another healthcare provider willing to do the service sought violates the Constitutional guarantee of “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession” (Sec. 5 Art 111).
Since it has been medically established that use of oral contraceptives and devices pose danger and harm to the health of women with its side effects some causing cervical cancer, breast cancer, and lately it was discovered also to cause liver cancer, not to mention that many popular pills are abortifacients preventing implantation of the zygote in the uterus causing the abortion of the unborn. This is directly opposed to the Constitutional mandate “that the State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products (Sec. 9 Art XV1)
9) Why is the Church against the Bill?
First of all the bill is wrong not because the Church is opposing it, the Church is opposing it because it is wrong.
According to Pope Benedict XVl whenever the Church (and Catholics too, for that matter) intervenes in the public square, its principal focus of such participation must be consistent with the three Fundamental Non-negotiable Principles, which are -
(i) The protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death,
(ii) The recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as a union between man and woman based on marriage, and
(iii) The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.
All these three fundamental non-negotiable principles have been compromised, undermined and conveniently set aside in the bill to propel its single-minded agenda of aggressive contraception in an effort to depopulate the country of the “poorest of the poor and the marginalized’, which also spawns hedonistic lifestyle devoid of any moral sense. This is the reason the Church is against it, among many other reasons. The bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb, as it is a source of danger for the stability of the family and places the dignity of womanhood at great risk for which reason it is unacceptable to the Church ( cf CBCP Pastoral Statement on the RHB, Standing Up for the Gospel of Life, 2008).
10) What is the moral issue in the RHB?
There are many moral issues involved in the bill.
For one, as a deadly instrument of birth control, the bill itself is an anti-life measure. It seeks to hinder life through its aggressive contraception program as a purported solution to poverty which definitely is not.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a consistent moral condemnation of contraception. From Pope Pius X1’s landmark encyclical Casti Connubii (1931) to Pope Paul Vl ’s controversial encyclical Humana Vitae (1968), down to Pope John Paul 11’s groundbreaking encyclical Evangelium Vitae , the Gospel of Life(1995) and most recent, Pope Benedict XV1’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate have consistently articulated the inviolability of life and dignity of the person that must be respected, preserved, defended, fostered and protected at all times.
Thus, it is the constant teaching of the Church that -
“ any attempt on the part of the married people to deprive this act of its inherent force to impede the creation of new life, either in the performance of the act itself, or in, spermatocides, coitus interruptus, condoms, diaphragm, IUD, and abortion. All of these prevent the creation of new life, or in case of abortion, to snuff it at its earliest stage.
The bill is also anti-love. Contraceptive sex separates the unitive from the procreative purpose of marriage and falsifies the mutual self-donation that should occur during the conjugal act. It becomes an expression only of pure physical pleasure and makes the woman its mere object.
Under the bill, the government will encourage a mass-based contraceptive sex spawning a contraceptive mentality among the populace. This in turn will cultivate a promiscuous and hedonistic lifestyle that eventually assaults the sanctity of marriage and the stability of family life. Consequently, it will lead to the path of a nation-wide moral degradation and the corruption of Filipino values.
The proponents of the bill say the country is alarmingly populous and the staggering rise of population must be stopped to alleviate creeping poverty.
The Malthusian myth of overpopulation so sacred to the RHB proponents has long been discredited and proven to be wrong. It’s a hoax that continues to be peddled by the remnants of Malthus and its apostles in the Philippine Congress to advance their anti-natalist agenda, principally the passage of this bill.
The United Nations Population Development figures indicate that as early as 2007 the Philippines Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is already dangerously low. In the 1970s, the average Filipino woman had six children; today she will have around three. And in another 20 years, only two. In about 2020, RP TFR will sink below its replacement level of around 2.29. (cf World Population Collapse, Lessons for the Philippines, by Rev. Fr. Gregory D. Gaston, STD). TFR refers to the average number of children a woman will bear over her lifetime of reproduction. A TFR of at least 2.1 children per woman is needed to replace a country’s population.
Fact is, there is no overpopulation in the Philippines and population is not the cause of poverty . It is bad governance, inappropriate and poorly implemented economic policies leading to poor tax collections, corruption and lack of agriculture infrastructure cause poverty.
Our population of more than 90 million people helped the country to still post a positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in the crisis year of 2009 due to our large domestic market which partly compensated for the big decline in exports (Guide to Economics for Filipinos 7th ed. by Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Sinagtala, 2010).
A Catechism on Family and Life for the 2010 Elections Episcopal Commission on Family and Life December 27, 2009, Feast of the Holy Family
A Catechism on the Reproductive Health Bill Prepared by the Commission on Family and Life Diocese of San Pablo