My Problem with the RH Bill

Everyone seems to have something to say about the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill.

(For readers not residing in the Philippines, please read more about this controversial bill here.)

This past year or so, one would have to be deaf and blind not to hear or read anything pertaining to the bill. In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed the turbulent dynamics of Church and State in our country. From Charter Change to ousting a President (or two), I’ve seen my share of prayer rallies and heated debates. With the birth (pun intended) of the RH bill, which pushes to make contraceptives available to the poor for free (among other things), no one ever really expected the Church to sit this one out.

Is this really all there is to the problem?

But I’m willing to bet the word war and character assassination that ensued blindsided most of us.

In the past, whenever the Church mobilized Her members to make a stand on an issue, those who deemed it worth the effort would participate in all the rallies, noise barrages and prayer vigils while those who disagreed would show dissent by staying home. This time round, everyone has something to say: Twitter, Facebook, and whatever medium our current age has to offer has been deluged with every man’s expert opinion on the matter (and yes, apparently, we are all experts on this subject). I can take people being vocal about their views, and ultimately, having some openly (and unfairly) criticize the Catholic Church is to be expected.

But what bothers me, hurts me, to the core is how Catholics themselves are insulting their own Church and their leaders.

Just like many a dysfunctional family?

I’ll be honest. If you asked me where I stood on this bill, I would be unable to give you a simple “yea” or “nay.” This is because I still have some unresolved issues in my head about the RH bill and what passing it would mean for our country and our country’s problems. But while I cannot, as yet, bring myself to staunchly proclaim that I am against it (at least not in the way those in the prayer rally last Saturday did), I know that I most certainly will never post an FB status, write a blog, or tweet a message openly declaring that I am for it.

Because that would be deliberately attacking the Church. And I would never do that.

Note: I have questions, yes, but not about the Church’s stand on contraception. I’m crystal clear on that, which is why my husband and I practice Natural Family Planning (please read on the stand we’ve taken here).

Sure, at the height of passionate arguing (I presume), some anti-RH campaigners have let loose their own share of below-the-belt tirades, as have some pro-RH supporters. Again, it is no surprise when those who’ve had issues with the Church from way back rant away like there was no tomorrow. But for Catholics who parade their pro-RH stance proudly and boldly, I ask:

If you had a disagreement with your mother, would you broadcast it to the world that your mother was wrong?

Would you call your mother ignorant, stupid, out of touch, not all there?

Would you post it on your Facebook page that she’s a self-righteous hypocrite?

Would you tweet that you’re declaring an all-out war on her?

For our Church is not an irritating aunt, or a nagging cousin, or even a difficult in-law–She is our Mother Church.

Blame the politicians’ hidden agendas, blame the misinformation campaigns, blame the convictions that have transformed into hate. But please, Catholics, do not blame our Holy Mother Church.

Does that mean Catholics are not allowed to have their own opinions when it comes to issues like this? Of course not–if anything, it should bring us to search for the truth, to pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance. I confidently encourage you to pray about this, because I am quite certain the Spirit will not lead you to bad-mouth the Church, whatever your stand is.

We use [our tongue] to bless the Lord and Father, but we also use it to curse people who are made in God’s image: the blessing and curse come out of the same mouth. My brothers, this must be wrong… – James 3:9-10

Like I said, I am still at a dilemma with regards to the points of this bill, and how relieved am I that the decision to pass it or not doesn’t lie on my shoulders! So instead of ranting, posting and tweeting your expert opinion, I have this suggestion: why not pray? Pray for our country, for our lawmakers, for our Church leaders, for the poor. Pray for God’s guidance, His protection, His love.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe praying would do more for our country than putting my stance on the RH bill on my Facebook page.

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4 thoughts on “My Problem with the RH Bill

  1. It’s not that simple, Pauline. Medyo off yung analogy mo ng “mother” in the sense of discretion.

    Of course no one would want to hurt a family member (be it mother, sibling, or child) – but the more appropriate analogy is that the stands of the family members (particularly the siblings, or us) are “split.” It makes more sense to be practical about it (RH) for the good of the whole family because the “penalty” of deciding for the pro (RH) side (to the anti), though I admit is a big deal for any spiritual person, is [simply] a moral concern. Whereas the the penalty of deciding for the anti-side has FAR MORE devastating repercussions practically speaking.

    I’d rather deal with the challenge of trying to keep people “smart” about sex even if they know they could abuse the bill – rather than not having contraception accessible to those who can’t afford it – and literally sealing their fates to poverty.

    It’s really not realistic kasi to bank on a person’s “better judgement” or “morality” when it comes to the act of sex. People will not think straight when they’re horny – no matter how hopeful one is.

    But once the deed is done (sex) – that’s when “sense” comes back to both partners. And while sure there are cases when they regret having sex in the first place (for a myriad of reasons) the ONLY really dangerous one is when they get pregnant (that and STD – which again is a good indirect argument for being pro-RH).

    In that context (unwanted pregnancy), the reason they regret having sex is NOT because they would rather remain virgins – but simply because they aren’t ready to have a child. In other words, the reasons for people to have sex (irresponsibly) are already present even without the bill – so the argument of “reminding them of their moral responsiblity” (which the Church as been doing naman ever since we can remember), while noble, is proven to be not effective.

    If the bill passes, I admit that it might be abused, and the penalty the church speaks of may very well be the case (the further decline of sexual morality) – however if you ask me to compare that to the physical penalty of those less fortunate than us, I’d take the former over the latter anytime.

    I’m glad that the rhythm method is working for you guys, but you forget that our social class can afford to do those things – we are a busy lot and there are a LOT of other fun things we can do to (and afford) to pass our time. The reason why the poor seem to be multiplying like crazy is that sex is the one of the few things that they can do that doesn’t cost a thing – you can’t tell a poor person to just watch TV (cuz that costs electricity) or to be a runner (because they’ve got no helpers to take care of their children), apart from WORK they HAVE to remain home for the most part, and there’s the rub. You have a person who lives in dismal conditions night and day – either slaving away to work – or staying in their crappy home cleaning, cooking, feeding, worrying about the next meal – what else kind of de-stressing could they do? And it’s not fair to require them to do a rhythm method when it comes to being REALLY stressed.

    But I digress, the reason why it has gone public despite your analogy is because the COUNTRY is that family. If there’s a big family problem, we MAY apply discretion to the other neighbours – but the whole family KNOWS – so discretion is pointless in this sense.

    I do agree that there should be a more amicable way of voicing out differences – however, the Church has a ridiculous amount of influence which is bordering on unfair. I have a friend who is TRULY distraught because she’s very spiritual (I might even compare her to you since pareho kayo ng “spiritual aura” – pareho din super galing kumanta hehehe) and she’s having trouble reconciling the fact that she knows the RH bill is better for the country – yet she seems to be CONDEMNED by her own “mother.” (as you would like to put it)

    It shouldn’t have to be that way – for Church that’s supposed to be “inclusive” to be leveraging their moral stance to “guilt-trip” a child to the point of making them think twice if they want to be part of the “family” is wrong on so many levels. I’d much rather parang prodigal son sana. If the RH is truly a mistake, then let the children make that mistake BECAUSE there’s a chance that it ISN’T a mistake – and may actually solve very real issues. But instead the Church is leveraging it’s influence to NOT ONLY guilt trip/condemn the way they are – but to ensure in a VERY REAL SENSE that poor be bound to a life of poverty with no hope of recovering.

    If a “mother” exercises that kind of a method of influence – and is dead-set on it. How else could you convince those who are clueless on how misguided the stance is – but by pointing out how irresponsible it is. So there’s really no way of “portraying” the holy church in this situation as a “good parent” because it really isn’t – not when it comes to this at least.

    WIth that, I must respectfully disagree with your suggestion of “keeping mum” on social networks out of “respect” – we are predominantly catholic – not everyone has facebook, but most still go to church – and the church is pushing its agenda inside its walls – so people will get to hear the Church’s (misguided) side wether they like it or not. How are we supposed to inform others of the other side? We obviously can’t do it in church like Celdran did because THAT would be truly disrespectful. And having demonstrations, sure could be an avenue, but we are all savvy enough to know what is more effective: social media.

    To conclude, it’s worth stating that the pro-RH, just like the Gays, just like the atheists, they didn’t start this “fight” – try to look back at the infancy of all these controversial movements and you’ll find out that they were very content with simply being able to live their lives the way they wanted to – without hurting anyone, without needing fancy parades to prove their point – but almost always the Church ended up getting in their faces telling them what they’re doing is wrong and they’ll got to hell. Now that they’ve got the courage and resources to fight back, can you really blame them?

    Whatever backlash the Church has garnered – it did it upon itself. You don’t hear people disrespecting Buhddism, etc – because their “mothers” aren’t being unreasonable like ours is.

  2. “Blame the politicians’ hidden agendas, blame the misinformation campaigns, blame the convictions that have transformed into hate. But please, Catholics, do not blame our Holy Mother Church.”

    That I 100% agree with – medyo mahirap lang i-delineate in context of debates.

    In fact, that same friend (who wanted to change religion) – you’ll be proud to know that I was trying to convince her to stay. Because what’s misguided is the Philippine church – not the Catholic Church itself.

    For what its worth, when we use “unsavory descriptions” towards the Church – we are specifically talking about the Philippine contingent (i.e. CBCP) – though I imagine that qualification may mean nothing to those who “love” the Church – but it’s still worth saying.

    I guess what I’m trying to say to any anti person is we’re NOT your enemies (nor do we want to fight, really). We’re just trying to make everyone see sense beyond the default “moral” stance which the anti camp seems to SOLELY rely on. Reality isn’t that simple – you can think that all you want but reality always has a way of proving sentiment wrong.

  3. After reading your post, I thank God for people like you who love our Mother Church… God bless and I will be praying for you, hoping that your faith may reach to an understanding with the issue of the RH Bill… I ask you also to pray for our country (Philippines), Filipino Catholics are divided and some are even attacking openly our Mother Church…

    • Thanks, genesdb. Incidentally, after much more prayer and reflection (and a few external factors), I believe my stand on the bill has found firmer legs as of late. With God’s guidance, will write and share about it soon. Again, thanks for dropping by! 🙂

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