Reblog: Against the RH Bill, Part One

A good friend from Community, Howard Go, posted a comment on one of my articles on the RH Bill. Reading his very logical approach really made me look at the Bill in a whole new light, and I felt his views needed to be shared with more people, Filipino or not, Catholic or not.

So glad he took on the challenge of writing everything on his mind, resulting in a three-part dissertation (of sorts) on the RH Bill. Even gladder still that he has given me permission to reblog all three of them here. (You may also read/share these articles via cbcpforlife.com).

I must warn you: be ready to be WOWed.

Against the RH Bill – Part One
by Howard Go

A lot of people think the RH Bill is such a practical law, but it isn’t.

Is it easy to teach people to use condoms? It seems like the answer is so obvious, but it isn’t. Improper use of condoms was a big problem before and introducing it to communities that have never been able to afford it will mean that it will be a problem for them, too. Check out: http://www.pancap.org/en/news-global/821-improper-condom-use-a-global-health-issue-improper-condom-use-a-global-health-issue.htmlSo, someone might say, we’ll spend more to teach them. But here’s the problem, the RH Bill is not just a distribute-condoms-to-those-in-need-and-teach-them-to-use-it law. It is not just about family planning. It is also about providing better health care to pregnant women in areas with poor hospital services (and this aspect is actually the better part of the law). But, let’s try to see how far family planning as an objective in our country can go; in particular, the artificial contraception way.

Let’s assume people learn to use it after our country spends a fortune to teach them. Is the solution to supply them condoms for life? Not realistic (i.e., not practical). At some point, they will have to buy the condoms themselves. Condoms are not cheap. The people who are thought to need it cannot afford the extra expense.

But, let’s pretend the artificial birth control and family planning part of the RH bill work out and people learn all about condoms and we somehow make it available for free or for a peso a pack. What happens?

Do we really need to think this through? How many wealthy, educated children do we know who got pregnant or got someone pregnant in high school or college or during their years as a working adult? AIDS is back in the Philippines and it isn’t happening to the the poor in those areas the RH bill claims to want to help. It’s happening in corporate call centers where people know about condoms, know how to use them, can find of them (just in the convenience store located near almost every call center in our country), and can afford them.

I recall that there are people who were interviewed who would say, “Gee, I wish I knew all about family planning (whether natural or artificial birth control) or could afford it (for the artificial kind).” But, really, do we honestly believe the discipline for family planning will follow for the majority given our current economic situation? The bill on this aspect is just not realistic. In other words, just not practical.

I just want to end with this: Some people might say these families need to control their size. But is family size really the problem? Just one and two generations before mine (and probably long before that), most families would have at least four children with a decent percentage having six or more. And most of these families did well back then. And this was before and during the time our country was developing so well that we were the envy of our Asian neighbors.

The problem now is that inflation has far outpaced the minimum wage (and I won’t even get into how some people are paid less than half of the minimum wage just because they are contractual employees or in desperate need for a job). So, assuming we succeed in having less members in the family of those below the poverty line, do we really solve poverty or just create a stop gap solution (which won’t work, by the way, since it just isn’t realistic)?

Remember the MMDA color-coding number-scheme solution? It was meant to be a temporary solution to our traffic problem until we could fix our roads and have more one-way streets and a better public transportation system and other solutions to fix traffic properly. What happened instead? We’re stuck with a stop gap that isn’t working. We wasted years with a stop gap solution that made the government lazy in solving the real problem of traffic with a real solution.

The money and our time can be put to better use to help fight poverty and hardship than by this very impractical solution of teaching people about and making artificial contraception easily available.

If we and our country truly want to help the poor, then we should work harder to improve our educational system and to create more jobs (with something better than the minimum wage). If you talk to a poor parent, they will often admit that they do not want their kids going to school because they have no promising job waiting for them after. The educational system is terrible and the problem with unemployment and underemployment is depressing. They think their kids can earn more begging or doing some sort of work that will bring in a few pesos a day. And without a better educational system, without appropriate jobs for our graduates, who are we to argue? Even with less children, we know the poverty will continue because there just aren’t enough jobs with decent pay in this country.

That said, and if you are interested, read on to part two where I will defend the stance of our Catholic Church against the RH Bill. A lot of people don’t realize just how right our Church is in standing against it. And, no, I will not be using religious language to defend her stance, but that of a layman with layman reasoning. I hope you will read on.

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4 thoughts on “Reblog: Against the RH Bill, Part One

    • Dear Ryan,
      I’m trying very hard to see how this piece is shallow and narrow-minded.
      Is it shallow because it recognizes that family planning entails so much more than just providing ways and means, that it also requires a certain level of discipline (and self-control), no matter what the method?
      Does the fact that it tries to look ahead into the problems of implementation of the Bill make it narrow-minded?
      Does its recognition of economy as a more significant contributor to poverty than population or family size make it a rant?
      If we strip down the many position pieces on this debate, taking away the emotional “rants” (if you will), we find that both sides have their own set of data, their own pool of evidence. Pro-RH camps will present examples of countries who implemented similar population control measures and flourished (I must admit though, that we are probably on opposite ends on this issue precisely because we may have different views on what “flourish” or “progress” means). Anti-RH groups also have a portfolio of studies conducted revealing that population control does nothing to improve the economy, and of countries that are now facing problems with regards to population age distribution. In short, one is able to find the perfect evidence one needs to make his or her point. The opinion came first, then the data (not the other way around, at least, in most cases of RH discussion).
      That being said, I sincerely would like to know which parts presented here were untrue or, as you stated, poorly researched? I think Howard started the discussion well with the link about improper condom use. Observing that members of the population who are socio-economically capable
      (therefore, expected) to use condoms still choose not to just illustrates that we may be banking on the contraception-solution too heavily. Targeting call centers alone may not have been backed up by statistics here, but the truth of the illustration, whether it covers call centers, sex workers, any and all young adults going to a bar or club, or even migrant workers, still holds.
      Going to Howard’s statements on family size and poverty. Like you said, it is an opinion piece. You may say rapid population growth is the most glaring problem, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But neither is Howard in saying, as his opinion dictates, that inflation, corruption, unjust distribution of goods, are more pressing factors. Is it fair to judge him as narrow-minded and shallow if he thinks creating jobs and improving our educational system is a more worthy (and more promising) attempt at alleviating poverty?
      While I appreciate you reading and leaving a comment, I must disagree that this qualifies as gossip. Howard calls it as he sees it. And just because you see differently, does not automatically make it untrue.
      Thank you for reading,
      Pauline

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