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At Large

Abortion and motherhood

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What does it mean to be “proabortion”? It means to favor abortion as the primary means of terminating or avoiding a pregnancy, to favor it above contraception, which seeks to prevent and protect against an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy.

So what does Sen. Tito Sotto, whose muddled thinking on reproductive health is getting increasingly irritating, mean when he says that “all” foreign and local reproductive health groups are “proabortion”? Does he mean that all these groups advocate abortion as the only way to prevent pregnancy, counseling women who seek to protect themselves from unwanted or mistimed pregnancies not to worry about contraception but rather simply avail themselves of an abortion when and if they get pregnant?

To make sure Sotto gets what I mean, let me put it this way. When women approach these groups for help or counseling, do they tell the women, “Huwag kang mag-alala. Huwag ka nang mag contraception. Ipalaglag mo na lang ang dinadala mo sa sinapupunan kung mabuntis ka (Don’t worry. There’s no need to use contraception. Just abort your unborn child if you get pregnant)”?

If indeed this is the advice they give, I would be the first to join the condemnation of these groups. But would a group be “proabortion” when it calls for the humane and caring treatment of women who undergo  abortion and face complications because of it? Is one “proabortion” when one calls for decriminalization? What does Sotto and his supporters prefer? That these women, bleeding and suffering from infection, be left alone to die as a punishment (which is in fact what has happened to many women)? Or that these women be thrown into jail for being so desperate as to undergo an abortion?

I hope the “good” senator clarifies himself when he introduces his amendments at the Senate on Monday.

* * *

BUT a bigger hope is that the Senate facilitates the passage of the RH bill, which has been passed on second reading at the House.

Of course, the anti-RH camp says it will put up a stiffer fight when the bill comes up for third reading, or shift the battleground to the Senate. But I get the sense that the recalcitrants are waking up and smelling the coffee.

Already, concerned groups here and abroad are hailing the passage of the measure by the House, and the imminent passage by the Senate.

Says Catholics for Choice: “Whether it’s been a show of force … or pointed sermons against reproductive health … the Catholic hierarchy has consistently pressured the faithful in the pews and in Congress to sink the RH legislation. But just as consistently, opinion polls have shown a majority of citizens and Catholics support the government making contraception more available.”

Heed the people’s will! Let’s have an RH measure before we celebrate Christmas and have a truly happy New Year!

* * *

IT ALL began with a TV commercial. TV host and talent manager Boy Abunda was invited by Procter and Gamble to appear in a spot that was part of a global campaign honoring mothers. Called “Salamat, Nanay (Thanks, Mom),” the ad featured the host’s life story that traced his route to national prominence all the while sustained by his mother’s words and wisdom.

At the time the ad was made, Boy’s mother, now 84, had just been diagnosed with early dementia or Alzheimer’s, and far from throwing him into despair, says Abunda, the diagnosis spurred him to “want to be more relevant, to no longer be a lurker and instead find ways to make life better.”

And so, inspired by the TV campaign, and moved by the desire to honor his own mother, Abunda got together with some friends to put up “Make Your Nanay Proud” or MYNP, a civic organization that seeks out “loving Filipinos who love their mothers and who want to honor them by helping themselves, others, their communities and the country.”

“MYNP believes that in all we do we should first consider whether our actions will make our mothers proud of us or not. By doing this we can ensure that our personal moral compass continues to point in the right direction,” says the foundation.

MYNP calls on each and every Filipino to channel love and service for one’s mother into love and service for the motherland by, among other activities, helping poor mothers with livelihood projects, promoting and seeking solutions for maternal problems, and the creation of a “Bahay ni Nanay (Mother’s House)” to serve as MYNP’s headquarters and serve as a “museum for mothers.”

And it’s not just for all the nanay. As Abunda says: “Loving Nanay is tantamount to loving Tatay and every member of the family.”

* * *

ABUNDA hosted a gathering earlier this week to introduce not just MYNP but also the members of the foundation’s executive committee and its Council of Advisers, starting with senior adviser Washington SyCip.

The other council members, all prominent business and social figures and representing several generations, are: Miguel Belmonte, Emil Yap, Boy So, Robert Bernardo, Joanne Zapanta-Andrada, Katrina Enrile, Bobby Garcia, Tony Tuviera, Martin Concio, Jason Buensalido, Mark Gan, and Willy Ocier.

Abunda had a special story behind the inclusion of Inquirer columnist Tessa Prieto Valdes in the council. She is, he said, a grandniece of his “other” mother, the late society and arts doyenne Conchita Sunico. It was Sunico who plucked Abunda from obscurity and made him part of the management of Manila Metropolitan Theater after the structure was rehabilitated in the 1970s and she was managing it. It was Sunico, he said, who taught him not just social graces and arts management, but also a never-say-die attitude toward life and adversity. “When I put up MYNP, I told myself that of course Miss Sunico would have, in one way or another, a representative in its Council of Advisers. And that is Tessa.”


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