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.
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.