No need for an RH bill, now or everBy Bernardo Villegas |, Evelina Atienza Frank Padilla Anthony Lumicao and 15 othersPhilippine Daily Inquirer
There is no need for any legislation that guarantees universal access to contraceptives, the so-called reproductive health (RH) care devices, now or ever. Whatever “band-aid” amendments may be proposed by well-intentioned proponents of the RH bill to make it more palatable, the underlying principles behind it are inherently flawed.
The first component of sustainable development is a rate of economic growth that is high enough to contribute, together with appropriate economic policies, to the eradication of poverty. High gross domestic product growth is dependent on a growing and young population as has been stated by numerous international economists and top officials.
The just released Global Competitiveness Report 2012 of the World Economic Forum, like the HSBC 2012 Report, had the Philippines jumping several notches up in economic competitiveness because of our large, growing population.
Population control, however, will backfire and cause the acceleration of our falling fertility rate. Many pro-RH proponents harp on the dangers of population explosion. They have not learned from the lessons of the last two centuries of unparalleled economic progress in many countries of the East and the West that have disproved the Malthusian theory of perpetual poverty caused by the so-called geometric growth of population.
The unlimited capacity of the human mind to discover new resources and technologies has overcome the “limits to growth” that sowed fears in the last century.
Some of the greatest minds of the 20th century such as Nobel laureates Simon Kuznets and Michael Spence; Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, creator of the development index; and resource specialists Colin Clark and Julian Simon have shown through cross-country studies and long-term analyses of the economic experiences of developed countries that population growth was a positive stimulus to economic progress and that it was surpassed by the growth in real income.
Economists who purport to show the opposite have for their sample very few countries. They also have access to data over a relatively short period compared with the studies showing that there is no correlation between population growth and the spread of mass poverty, which is due to erroneous economic policies and failure of good governance.
Even those few countries in which there is some evidence that birth control policies temporarily helped in boosting economic growth in the short run are now regretting their fertility reduction programs. Well-known are the attempts of the leaders of Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan to appeal to their women to bear more babies.
Premarital sex, abortion
Since material well-being is not the only component of human development or happiness, there is another problem that widespread use of contraceptives can unleash. The findings of Nobel laureate George Akerlof who, despite his protestations that he was in favor of abortion and artificial contraception, demonstrated with empirical evidence that the “reproductive technology shock” led to an increase in premarital sex, and due to contraceptive failure, also in unwed mothers, children without fathers and other societal ills.
A 2009 University of Pennsylvania study, titled “Sexual Revolution,” showed that premarital sex in the United States ballooned from 0.06 percent of women in 1900 to 75 percent today as contraception provided the youth the ease of sex without “cost” or responsibility.
False sense of security
This same link with premarital sex was also suggested by the studies by JE Potter in Brazil, and clearly seen by the work of Dr. Edward Green in Africa. Green, former director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University, affirmed that “condoms have not worked as a primary intervention in the population-wide epidemics of Africa,” citing studies at the Lancet, Science and British Medical Journal and explaining that the availability of condoms led to earlier and riskier sex by creating a false sense of security.
As the contraceptive mentality sets in (contra = against; conception = beginning of human beings), a negative view of human beings is promoted. A 2011 study in the scientific journal Contraception showed that the rise in contraceptive use in Spain also saw a jump in abortion rate. This link—both logical and empirical—has been acknowledged by leaders of the abortion industry, such as Malcolm Potts, the first medical director of International Planned Parenthood.
Only five nations in the world still prohibit abortion. A hundred years ago all nations did. It was acceptance of contraception that changed their minds. This will happen here, too, if we accept contraception.
Another serious flaw in the RH bill is the sweeping generalization about “unwanted pregnancies.” Scientific studies in the United States, especially those by Lant Pritchett of Harvard University, have seriously questioned the assumption made by pro-RH bill advocates that unwanted pregnancies among married women are rampant. The finding of social scientists is that mothers have the number of children they want.
Surveys in the Philippines that purport to show that there are many mothers among poor households, who regret having given birth to some of their children, are suspect. These surveys are usually funded by international organizations that have a strong bias for population control.
It is no secret that in the Democratic National Convention, the Obama administration made it clear that there will be continuing support for abortion. One does not have to be paranoid to assume that if President Obama wins a second term, he and his Secretary of State will continue to target countries like the Philippines to spread their culture of death.
Besides being part of an ideological interpretation of “women’s rights,” such aggressive campaign to promote reproductive health (which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averred “includes access to abortion”) continues the US-supported worldwide program that was unleashed by the National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests.
Considering the revelations about the participation of foreign interests in lobbying for the RH bill, any version of it will be suspect.
Let us not be naïve. Only last year, Green, through his book “Broken Promises,” exposed in brilliant detail how the West’s AIDS establishment disowned scientific evidence that wide condom use was in fact ineffective in stopping AIDS in Africa, and how those who dominate it—the homosexual ideologues, population controllers and condom suppliers—worsened the epidemic and betrayed the developing world.
Taking away funds for poor
Besides being the antithesis to sustainable economic growth and human development, the RH bill also unwittingly goes against inclusive growth, i.e. economic progress that benefits the poorest among the poor.
It misdiagnoses the reason households of larger family sizes are poorer than those with fewer children. Studies have shown that households with larger family sizes are poorer not because they have too many children but because their heads are the least educated. This should lead policymakers not to convince these poor households to have fewer children, but to invest more resources in their education, especially the women, a proposal that is strongly supported by the studies of Economics Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Gary Becker.
Improve basic education
Government should divert whatever is budgeted for contraceptives to improving the quality of basic education among the poor. Poor households, especially in the rural areas, choose to have more children because human beings are their only resources, especially considering the failure of the state to provide farmers with infrastructure.
The poor farmers will suffer manpower shortages in their labor-intensive farming if they start imitating the rich in having only one or two children. The same applies to those millions of households that have at least one of its immediate members working abroad. Seducing them to have fewer children could very well leave them even more destitute, as publications of the UN and Asian Development Bank have predicted.
Disseminating a contraceptive mentality among the poor unmasks a condescending and elitist attitude that the poor should not be allowed to multiply. This policy is dangerously close to the eugenics practiced by authoritarian leaders like Adolf Hitler.
Considering that the competitive advantage of the Philippines in the global economy is its young, growing population, a really propoor economic strategy should allow the poor to choose to have as many children as they wish and then to generously support them with infrastructure, educational and technical skills training, and microcredit support, among other things, so that they can turn their children into truly productive resources.
Those who support the RH bill refer to surveys purporting to show that there is a large demand for free contraceptives among the poor. As mentioned, these surveys are suspect because they are funded by international agencies advocating contraception and abortion. Questionnaires are formulated to influence respondents to give the desired answers.
A recent consumer survey conducted among the C, D and E households (constituting more than 60 percent of households) by SEED Institute, a field research group, came out with more objective data about the demand for contraceptives among mothers in poor households in Metro Manila.
The survey was conducted to identify the consumer patterns of the poor with the intention of giving guidelines to profit-making firms and social enterprises about what goods and services could be tailored specifically to the needs of the poor. The respondents (all mothers) were asked to list down the top three goods or services that they most wanted the government to provide for free after they exhausted their resources to meet their most basic needs. Among more than 20 goods or services on their wish lists, there was no mention whatsoever of “free contraceptives.”
The Philippine Medical Association also asserted that the goal of reducing maternal and child deaths “could be attained by improving maternal and child health care without the necessity of distributing contraceptives. The millions of [pesos] intended for contraceptive devices may just well be applied in improving the skills of our health workers.”
Provoking moral crisis
Several religious groups, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic, oppose the RH measure on moral grounds. Belying pro-RH surveys, these groups, together with other people of goodwill, have rallied by the thousands in many cities and towns around the country, and have contributed in winning post-debate polls on national television.
The Imam Council of the Philippines, leaders of our 4.5 million Muslims, pronounced that contraceptives “make us lose morality.” Throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has taught that contraception is intrinsically evil. Pope John Paul the Great wrote that contraception “leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love.”
It is, therefore, advisable that Congress refrain from passing a law that would oblige citizens who adhere to their religion to fund an item which they consider immoral. Considering the strong arguments against the RH bill based on secular sciences, it would be prudent for the state not to provoke a religious-moral crisis among a large majority of the Filipino population.
Need for virtue
Lastly, two Asian intellectuals spoke of the virtue needed by a nation. Speaking of the “crime” of contraception, Mahatma Gandhi taught: “Even as many people will be untruthful and violent, humanity may not lower its standard, so also, though many, even the majority, may not respond to the message of self-control, we may not lower our standard.”
Jose Rizal wrote: “Only virtue can save! If our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice and sacrifice love!”
(The 19 authors are Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Ph.D Economics [Harvard University]; Maria Conception Noche, Alliance for the Family; Frank Padilla, CFC-FFL; Rolando de los Reyes, Courage Philippines; Dr. Eleanor Palabyab, Doctors for Life; Alan Dacanay, Families against the RH Bill; Dr. Angelita Aguirre, Family Media Advocacy Foundation; Leonardo Montemayor, Federation of Free Farmers; Evelina Atienza, Kababaihan ng Maynila; Joseph Tesoro, Live Pure Movement; Eric Manalang, Pro-life Philippines; Jemy Gatdula and Felipe Salvosa, Pro-life Professors; Dr. Raul Nidoy, Science and Reason for Human Beings; Maribel Descallar, Teodora: In Defense of the Authentic Woman; Kiboy Tabada, UP for Life; Luis Buenaventura III, YUPamilya; Anthony Lumicao, Youth United for the Philippines; and Anthony Perez, Filipinos for Life.)
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