A follow-up to our previous discussion.
Some interesting questions were raised in a forum about this controversial bill in the context of critical thinking, the Catholic Church, and population control. The questions are:
- If the parents disagree with the mandatory reproductive health education for their children and prevent them from attending, will they be penalized with imprisonment or fine or both?
- How is the duress of the penal threats from the government now any different from the duress of the threat of mortal sin from the Church that you have an issue with?
In further context, the issue pertains to the mandatory imposition of reproductive health education and furthermore the penalties for non-observance of the proposed law, per the provisions of the bill:
SEC. 12. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. – Recognizing the importance of reproductive health rights in empowering the youth and developing them into responsible adults, Reproductive Health Education in an age-appropriate manner shall be taught by adequately trained teachers starting from Grade 5 up to Fourth Year High School.
a. Reproductive health and sexual rights;
b. Reproductive health care and services;
c. Attitudes, beliefs and values on sexual development, sexual behavior and sexual health;
d. Proscription and hazards of abortion and management of post-abortion complications;
e. Responsible parenthood.
f. Use and application of natural and modern family planning methods to promote reproductive health, achieve desired family size and prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies;
g. Abstinence before marriage;
h. Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other, STIs/STDs, prostate cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other gynecological disorders;
i. Responsible sexuality; and
j. Maternal, peri-natal and post-natal education, care and services.
SEC. 22. Penalties. – The proper city or municipal court shall exercise jurisdiction over violations of this Act and the accused who is found guilty shall be sentenced to an imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine ranging from Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president, treasurer, secretary or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration. An offender who is a public officer or employee shall suffer the accessory penalty of dismissal from the government service.
The inquiry prompted me to ask which would be preferable: remove the mandatory nature of the education, or the penalties associated with the law. Further questions were raised:
- Which one do you think will lead to an informed conscience?
- How is mandatory consistent with critical thinking?
For further reference, the full text of the bill is here.
I’m personally curious about similar laws in effect in other countries and how this one measures up against them–particularly countries highly sensitive to population growth (e.g. China). Meanwhile, as evidenced by the questions posed above–I think a lot of the controversy and reaction to the bill is rooted in the predominantly-Christian upbringing and culture in the Philippines.
My own question to this is: can critical thinking really be done in the context of tradition and authority? How this bill is challenged and dissected will be a good indication of the answer.