To Control Or Not to Control: Is the RH Bill Necessary?

However, the RCC hierarchy does not believe that a big population breeds poverty.

Earlier this year, in his New Year’s message, Pope Benedict XVI said poverty is often considered a consequence of demographic change. “For this reason, there are international campaigns afoot to reduce birth rates, sometimes using methods that respect neither the dignity of the woman, nor the right of parents to choose responsibly how many children to have; graver still, these methods often fail to respect even the right to life,” the Holy Pontiff said in his message.

Furthermore, the Holy Pontiff said there are still millions of people who had escaped from poverty despite experiencing substantial demographic growth.

Based on the 1981 statistics of world poverty incidence, 40 percent of the world’s population is in penury; however, after several years, that number had been halved, the Pope pointed out. “This achievement goes to show that resources to solve the problem of poverty do exist, even in the face of an increasing population,” the Pontiff said.

Good for or detrimental to women’s health?

While proponents and supporters of the bill say that use of artificial contraceptives do not endanger women’s overall health, there are medical experts who say it does.

Dr. Angelita Miguel-Aguirre, head of the Makati Medical Society’s Committee on Ethics, said in a statement that contraceptives inhibit and interfere with normal and healthy reproductive processes, resulting in serious complications and side effects. She added that women pay a high price for “tampering with nature.”

Lagman’s bill promotes the use of birth control pills, patch or injectable hormones, intrauterine device (IUD), barrier methods (condoms/diaphragms) and sterilization (ligation for women and vasectomy for men).

Aguirre said hormonal contraceptives such as pills, injectables (DEPO-Provera), implants and patches that contain estrogens and progestins have been classified as carcinogenic, thus raising breast, cervical and liver cancer risks, as well as increasing the possibility of premature hypertension and coronary artery disease resulting to heart attacks and strokes, and thromboembolism/pulmonary embolism.

In addition to these, decreased libido, infertility, cramps, gallstone formation, nausea and bloating are said to be the other side effects of hormonal pills.

Condoms also cannot prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted infections such as the human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The rubber comprising latex condoms has intrinsic voids about five micra whereas the HIV is only 0.1 micra. Since this is a factor of 50 smaller than the intrinsic voids, the HIV can pass through the condom, she explained.

“The condom and other barrier methods have the highest failure rate in preventing pregnancy and in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STI) especially the human papilloma virus which is the major cause of cervical cancer in women,” said Aguirre.

However, the RH bill’s advocates say these are not true. The side effects of pills, they say, are just temporary and some of them do even prevent cervical cancer.

Will it promote promiscuity or not?

One of the fears of the conservative Church is that after the passage of the bill, promiscuity will be rampant among the youth.

Rev. Fr. Gregory D. Gaston, academic dean of the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary, Makati City, said that the RH bill seeks to establish a national family planning program that would include mandatory sex education and instruction on use of birth control for students in Grade V and higher levels in all public schools. The Catholic Church, he said, considers this “immoral”.

“The so-called sex-education programs promote promiscuity under the guise of reproductive health and reproductive rights. Children and adolescents will be taught to have satisfying and safe sexual experiences outside marriage. This is exactly the opposite of the virtues of holy purity, modesty and respect for oneself and others being taught by the Holy Church,” he said in a statement.

On the other hand, Emee Lei Albano, a Catholic and a youth advocate of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the Philippines, said in an interview with Bulatlat that the youth nowadays are more intelligent and responsible enough to know what is right and what is wrong for them.

“I think the RH bill will just protect them and won’t make them immoral, unlike what some people wants us to believe,” she said.

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