Posts Tagged ‘reproductive health bill’

A continuation of our ongoing discussion on the RH bill.

Blogger Arvin Ortiz wrote a good piece on lobbying in a democracy, specifically referring to the Catholic Church lobbying for its side in the heated debate.

An excellent point made by Arvin is that although a democracy definitely allows for any group to lobby for its own interests, the Catholic Church flexing its muscles to champion its cause may be toeing the line. An example includes denial of communion to politicians favoring the bill which blogger: Pinoy Law Student criticized earlier.

My question is that while our democratic system allows for freedom of religion–does this accomodate “religious legislation”–or the encouragement of laws that favor a certain set of beliefs? Majority of Filipinos are Catholic which gives the Catholic Church tremendous influence over public sentiment, and while this is perfectly within the bounds of that freedom of religion, doesn’t lobbying for legislation in the name of Catholic beliefs potentially disparage the rights of those who are not Catholic?

Arvin links to an article of Manuel Quezon III which is an excellent commentary on religious freedom, separation of Church and State, and freedom of conscience which (admit it or not) lies at the heart of this ongoing debate.

If our secular state treads carefully so as to ensure that religious freedom (and freedom of conscience) is respected, particularly in the case of religious practices by minorities, it is less careful about the religion practiced by the majority of Filipinos. This is what sets the question of the separation of Church and State with regard to the Catholic hierarchy apart—it is the dominant religion, with a claim to the minds and hearts of a majority of our fellow citizens. The faith and morals of Catholics happen to be the articles of faith of the majority—and we are a nation that subscribes to the principle that questions of policy and leadership are best solved by invoking majority rule.

When the faith and morals, then, of the majority are endangered by what are perceived as minority-inspired proposals, what alternative does the majority have but to mobilize the faithful?

Fair enough that Catholics far outnumber any other religious denomination–but for me this numerical advantage should not make it easier for the Catholic Church to lobby for its prescribed morality and legislation furthering those ends. This is the essence of religious freedom.

MLQ3’s last statement sums it up nicely:

But it is fair and just to remind the hierarchy and the rest of the Catholic citizenry that our Republic does not exist for Catholics alone, and this means that their faith and morals cannot be made the exclusive basis for state policy.

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Part of our ongoing discussion on reproductive health.

One of our friends, Pinoy Law Student (p.l.s.), reported on an initiative by the Catholic Church to write its own reproductive health bill. p.l.s. offered three sentiments surrounding this issue which we partially quote:

First point. With all due respect to our prelates, there is this little provision in the Constitution also known as  separation of church and the state.

Second point. Again, with all due respect, the Catholic church – singing praises for natural family planning – has not even lifted a finger in disseminating the information that about the method that they sacrosanctly uphold.

Third point: I don’t know, but refusal of communion and other sacraments to politicians who support the bill is such a childish tactic in my opinion.

Read the rest of p.l.s. excellent critique here.

Just recently we blogged about the Vatican’s reaction to the removal of life support from a coma patient and this ongoing debate on population issue is within the same spheres of thought. The first being the definition of “life”, and the ethical approach to that definition, which covers actions such as contraception, abortion, and euthanasia. The second being the consideration of moral and social implications of those definitions and actions.

We can argue about the justice to a father by insisting that his vegetative daugther continue to live and bleed precious resources from her already cash-strapped family as much as we can argue why it is objectionable to allow sex education to be taught and guided in schools instead of children picking up their knowledge from unknown sources.

At the risk of sounding like a moral relativist, I really have to ask: in the end, what are we really arguing against if not simply tradition?

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2 Maddog

Let us also note the other coercive provisions in this bill:

Section 21, number 5, requires doctors and health workers to dispense such abortifacients and other artificial contraceptive devices and methods. If they refuse to do so on religious grounds, they must still refer those who want to use such abortifacients to another person who will dispense them. Conscientious objectors are thereby required to cooperate in such acts, and if they refuse, they are slapped penalties ranging from one to six months imprisonment and a fine of P10,000-P50,000! HB 5043 eliminates any choice for conscientious objectors and makes no room for their legitimate concerns.”

If your religion is Jehovah’s Witness and you as a nurse was asked to give a blood transfusion to a patient. Would it be right for you to refuse it on religious grounds? 


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Further on our ongoing discussion on Reproductive Health.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas wrote an interesting opinion about the ongoing debate about the Reproductive Health Bill 5043. He talked about the definition of abortion, religious freedom, and notably, the issue of sex education:

I would make special mention of the requirement of sex education. Sex education is a matter closely related to religious morality. Our Constitution allows the teaching of religion to children in public schools, but it requires that it be done only with the written consent of parents. A similar respect for the desire of parents should be provided for in the law. Our Constitution says: “The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.” As for sex education in private schools, any law on this should respect academic freedom which is also protected by the Constitution.

Fr. Bernas’ full article is here. (more…)

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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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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: (more…)

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I have heard about this bill being discussed here in the Philippines for a long time. It is only now when I actually got to read it. For a backgrounder for non-Filipinos, our country is quite conservative in relation to the rest of the world, possibly due to our Roman Catholicism. Our country is one of the very few where divorce is not allowed. Instead we have annulment which is very tedious and very costly as well.

As for birth control, our country basically is against abortion but quite open to other forms of birth control. The problem though is that sometimes in very rural areas, this technology has not been properly propagated. I heard of some stories about the innocence of some Filipino’s after even being taught birth control by the use of a condom. When some people went to a certain rural area, the people there were taught on how to use the condom, but since a real penis could not be fitted with a condom to be used an example, the lecturer had used his finger instead. After a few months, the lecturer was surprised to find out that there were still a lot of women being pregnant. The lecturer wondered why and found out that instead of fitting the condom on the husband’s penis the people had fitted the condom on their finger.


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