Yes to divorceBy Peter Wallace
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Congress is to be commended for passing some very important bills despite strong opposition to them, but bills with flaws that must have been obvious during the debates.
One example is the recently passed Sin Tax Reform Law.
I’m at a loss to understand why Congress would increase sin taxes by 4 percent every year. Not adjusting to inflation, that makes eminent sense. But 4 percent? Are the legislators prescient enough to know what the inflation rate will be starting 2018 or five years from now, or 10, or 20? Why not just increase by the previous year’s official inflation rate? Or at the inflation rate times “x”? I don’t expect it, but who knows, we’ve had inflation rates as high as 50.3 percent (recorded in 1984).
Then there’s the Reproductive Health Law where pressure from the Church allowed scientific fact to be ignored. It’s a Church that has for recent centuries denied scientific fact until it could no longer do so. Why, I cannot understand. It has insisted on holding on to beliefs that were formulated when a full understanding had not yet been gained, and only reluctantly accepted these when their position became untenable.
This is the case today on contraception. According to the book “Bioethics in a Cultural Context” by Vincent Barry (2012), in a survey of the scientific views on the beginning of life, one scientific argument supported by some Catholic theologians is that there can be no life before gastrulation. Gastrulation is when the fertilized ovum is implanted into the uterus (“Developmental Biology Online: Where Does Human Life Begin?”, Franklin College). Before that the zygote (the joining of male and female sperm and egg) can split into twins, in fact can do so till day 12. So God hasn’t yet decided what this ovum will be. How then can there be life of an individual? The British position is that life begins at the 14th day when the nervous system starts to form (Barry, 2012). The neurological view is that it’s not till the brain (which after all is where our soul resides) is forming. There’s no electrical activity whatsoever until weeks 6-8, then there’s a faint signal. It’s only by week 24 that connections that create brain functions are formed, and week 27 when cerebral electrical activity is noticeable.
So, which is it? Whichever it is, it is NOT before the fertilized ovum attaches to the uterus wall. Some sectors accept that anything that prevents that attachment is not an abortifacient. The earth is not flat. So I’m greatly disappointed that they forced an amendment into the law that denies scientific fact. I sincerely hope that once passions die down, the next Congress will return the law to being factually correct and define contraceptives correctly.
Now let’s start the year controversially: Let’s support Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. It’s time for divorce. It shouldn’t be controversial, but I’m sure it will be.
Yet the Philippines is the ONLY COUNTRY in the world that doesn’t permit divorce. That includes ALL the predominantly Catholic countries in the world: Italy, the home of the Vatican (a small state, not a country, that doesn’t permit divorce; but since the Vatican is composed of mostly celibate religious, it hardly needs divorce), Spain, Poland, Colombia and Mexico—they all permit divorce even if they are 80 percent-90 percent Catholic. Maybe the Church there has opposed it, but the state has recognized the right of couples to choose the life they want.
If everyone except you believes in or does something, isn’t it just possible you could be wrong?
The second point is: What kind of family life? I believe God put us on this world to enjoy life, not to suffer in misery. That’s what purgatory and (for some I could name) hell are for. There are two purposes for marriage as I, a layman, see it. One is to bear children and raise them to become successful, happy adults. The second is to provide a companion to go through life with happily, contented and, can I say, in a satisfying and pleasurable companionship.
What kind of life do two people who can’t stand each other have? What kind of environment do their kids suffer in, with two fighting, miserable parents? What chance of a successful, happy life do they have?
I was divorced; in Australia it’s allowed. I’ve had 33 years of a wonderful life with a wonderful second wife, happy, contented and, yes, satisfied. And we have two (not 10) great kids who got a solid education and have started successful careers. My daughter is an environmental scientist helping Gina Lopez clean up the mess other Filipinos have left this country in (you should see the pigsty that was the Pasig, where it hasn’t yet been so wondrously cleaned up by Gina; this statement is unfair to pigs). My son has his own businesses in cinematography and car modification with his partner, Ian King.
My first wife had a happy life with her second husband until she died a few years back. Would God say this is wrong? If so, it’s not a god I’d want to believe in.
The point that the bishops can have, and I’d fully support, is that any divorce must consider what is best for the children first. This must be the primary role in the divorce court (separate courts are needed). As long as the kids will be fully supported in whatever way is best, then divorce should be granted.
So, let’s give Filipinos a fulfilling life. Let’s allow divorce, not reserve it for the rich under the farcical excuse of annulment. The poor deserve a happy life, too. We are not trying to destroy families, we’re trying to give the best opportunity for people to have happy families. Is that so wrong?
More from this Column:
Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=44525