Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Abortion and RH Bill Debate

Abortion is the hot topic in the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill debate and many pro-life advocates and religious groups in the Philippines argue that the Bill will permit abortion. Senator Tito Sotto even went over-the-top to compare the Bill with eugenics and claimed that groups pushing for the Bill has "sinister" motives like Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America.

On the otherhand, folks who support the RH Bill should also refrain fear mongering and demonizing the Catholic church and those who are against the Bill.

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), the largest network of evangelical churches in the Philippines expressed its full support to the RH Bill which I’m in favor too. The PCEC say the bill promotes responsible parenthood and that the bill “protects the life of both the mother and the baby in her womb” - a position the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) opposes.

According to the CBCP, the RH Bill “does not protect the health of the sacred human life that is being formed or born. The very name ‘contraceptive’ already reveals the anti-life nature of the means that the RH bill promotes. These artificial means are fatal to human life, either preventing it from fruition or actually destroying it. Moreover, scientists have known for a long time that contraceptives may cause cancer. Contraceptives are hazardous to a woman’s health.”

The big question, does the RH Bill really permit abortion or opens the door to legalize abortion in the Philippines?

The answer is found on the Bill itself that you can read in full here. The term “abortion” was mentioned a few times on the Bill and here’s what the Bill say about it:

Sec. 3. Guiding Principles
This acts declares the following as guiding principles:...
10. While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner;

Sec. 4. Definition of Terms
For the purposes of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:...
“(t) Reproductive Health Care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include:...
(3) proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;

Sec. 8. Maternal and Newborn Health Care in Crisis Situations
…Temporary facilities such as evacuation centers and refugee camps shall be equipped to respond to the special needs in the following situations: normal and complicated deliveries, pregnancy complications, miscarriage and post-abortion complications, spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs, and sexual and gender-based violence.

Abortion in the Philippines according to the RH Bill, sounds more pro-life to me than pro-choice and more in line with Biblical and Christian worldview principles of dignity and stewardship. What do you think?

The big threat in the RH Bill right now is misinformation. Its a heated debate and both sides are strongly committed to persuade Filipinos which side of the fence is right. Pro and anti RH Bill proponents should be responsible to engage in civil discord and inform the public honestly about the merits and demerits of the bill. Filipinos in return should also be responsible to study the bill objectively before taking sides and be able to point out lies. The RH Bill is a legitimate topic for debate. But if misinformation is deliberately spread from both sides to silence the opponent, then it minimizes the democratic process and should be quickly aborted.

Additional reading: Reproductive Health (RH) Debate in the Philippines, The Living Rice Blog 

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