YesBy Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Time to sum up. In the end, the question boils down to:
Is it moral?
That’s the reproductive health bill which, with any luck, might find resolution this week. I hope it does, as next week will be dominated by the Pacquiao fight. And with Christmas rushing in shortly afterward, voting could end up being deferred to next year, where the impending elections stand to complicate it. Certainly that’s what those opposed to it are banking on.
Their own answer to the question of course is that it’s not. The way they see it, and put it, it’s a choice between expedience and morality. If you’re for RH, you’re for expedience, if you’re against it, you’re for morality. If you’re for RH, you’re for convenience, if you’re against it, you’re for conscience.
The RH bill is immoral, they say, because of several things. One is that it goes against the teachings of the Church, or Vatican. Two is that even without Vatican, contraception is anti-life, or indeed it is corruption as Socrates Villegas puts it. And three is that it promotes promiscuity.
None of these arguments holds water. You insist that Vatican is infallible when it says contraception is evil, divorce is a sin, and women-priests are an abomination, you are only going to spark a modern-day schism. Dogmatism is the fountainhead of tyranny, which drives believers away, which makes the faithful unfaithful. It doesn’t help that Vatican itself is racked by sex scandals, which raises all sorts of questions about whether infallibility is a dispensation from having to practice what you preach.
The proposition that any interference with the seed falling on fallow womb is a sin has met with much irreverent response, and not without reason. Should you worry, as the kids with raging hormones ask, that you’ve destroyed life with what you do with yourself in the john? Reductio ad absurdum, but the proposition is reducible to absurdity.
As to the promiscuity, well, that’s been there long before RH, afflicting politicians and priests alike, generals and bishops alike. Like traffic lights, in this country the Church’s ban against premarital and extramarital sex is taken only to be a suggestion. The same goes for the vow of chastity for the clergy. The lack of RH hasn’t produced more restraint, it has only produced more babies, the promiscuous, for reasons that owe to our macho culture, insisting on having them with their mistresses.
In fact, to RH’s credit, it’s not just that it’s not immoral, it’s that it’s perfectly moral. The choice is not between expedience and morality, convenience and conscience, it is between hypocrisy and morality, nonsense and conscience. You oppose RH, you choose hypocrisy and nonsense. You support RH, you choose morality and conscience.
That’s so first off because RH doesn’t promote promiscuity, it promotes responsibility. This country will remain promiscuous whether there is RH or not.
But I can’t think of anything more irresponsible than launching into this world life that is beyond your means or capability to sustain. I can’t think of anything more immoral than producing mouths to feed that you can’t possibly feed, heads to put a roof over that you can’t possibly put a roof over, minds to awaken that you can’t possibly awaken.
The anti-RH camp says the pro-RH people are treating births, or children, or life as though they were a disease. Not at all. Birth is not a disease, a child is not a disease, life is not a disease. They are as precious as air. But birthing a horde of children without a thought to the likelihood that they are going to end up sleeping on the pavement, badgering or hustling commuters for alms on Christmas or other days, or taking to a life of crime for having precious little means of clinging to life, that recklessness is a disease. That unconcern is a disease. The justification of it is a disease. The encouragement of it is a disease.
In fact, it’s not just a disease, it’s a plague.
That’s so, second of all, because RH isn’t anti-family, it is pro-women—or more to the point, pro-mothers. Forget that it’s the women who bear the brunt of birthing, who are aged beyond their years from having to spend their youth in a constant state of pregnancy. Though while at this, can anything be more mind-boggling than that argument that contraceptives pose dangerous medical side effects? Even if that were true—and it’s not, most findings find the pill itself reasonably safe—what is this, exposing women to the rigors of unrelenting child-birthing is medically sound?
But like I said, forget the child-birthing, mind only the child-rearing. Mind only that it’s the women, or the mothers, who have their youth and their energy and their lives sucked out of them from having to care for a brood that utter impoverishment makes near-impossible to care for. Can anything be more immoral than condemning them to that kind of life while their husbands or partners, who presumably have the harder time of having to bread-win, drink and gamble and womanize to take the bitter taste of it away? RH won’t solve all their problems, but it sure as hell will lessen the fires of the hell they’re in.
And finally, that’s so because RH is not anti-life, it is pro-life. It is pro-life in the sense of life as real life and not abstract life, as flesh-and-blood life and not smoke-and-shadow life, as life with all the joys and tears of daily struggle and not life with the antiseptic senselessness of imagined life. It is pro-life in the sense of life as living and not merely as existing, as carving space and not merely occupying space, as reaching for things beyond our grasp and not merely grasping at straws.
In the end, the question boils down to: Is RH moral? And in the end, the answer is one resounding: Yes. To the core.
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