For many years our country has been trying to fight against the Reproductive Health Bill, the arguments from those who favor it has swayed from population control to reproductive health, and ultimately back to population control.
Preceding the Prayer Power Rally organized by the Catholic Church last August 4, 2012 (Feast of St. John Mary Vianney), the debates on the RH Bill focused heavily on the health benefits, and when failed to defend OCPs are healthy (which are, by the way, not), they would finally admit that it’s really about giving mothers, oh sorry, not just mothers but generally women, choices. Debates would guarantee this cycle all the time save for some arguments with population control advocates.
But since the Prayer Power Rally that gathered almost 60,000 Catholics, Christians and Muslims, the arguments have changed. It seemed to me as if those Reproductive Health advocates have been pushed against the wall by the numbers. They know that in reality, they don’t have the numbers. They claim they have names, signatures, but where are the people those signatures came from?
Came Monday, President Noynoy Aquino invited all the Congressmen and Congresswomen for lunch to talk them into ending the RH debates that day instead of the scheduled August 7 (Tuesday) for fear that the Solons’ decision might be affected by the “angry mob” that is the Catholic Church lay members” who have scheduled to troop to Batasan to show support for their prolife advocates. The RH advocates have already shown their true colors. They have become more open and blatant to defending it as a population control measure. PNoy himself had said it in his State of the Nation Address, and I quote:
“Sana nga po, ngayong paubos na ang backlog sa edukasyon, sikapin nating huwag uling magka-backlog dahil sa dami ng estudyante. Sa tingin ko po, Responsible Parenthood ang sagot dito.”
Cong. Edcel Lagman, just today at Inquirer.net, proclaimed that the Philippines is overpopulated which is why the government has difficulty in addressing the needs for risk management.
If population control is the ultimate intention for this bill, then this bill needs to be junked because the Philippines is not overpopulated. In fact, in a hearing with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the pro-RH NEDA Chief Arsenio Balicasan himself almost hesitantly admitted (as if he was hiding something) that the Philippine’s fertility rate is pegged at 1.8% since 2009 when the UN standard for replaceable population is at 2.1%. Despite the statistics, why is Lagman convinced that we are overpopulated? I’m sure based on his statement in Inquirer, we can safely assume that he wants the poor lessened. They still claim that the RH or RP bill is pro-poor. The bill is actually a metaphor for Hitler’s historic gas chambers, which his soldiers actually promoted as harmless. “Oh, you’re just going to take good shower.” For the poor who cannot afford OCPs: “Oh, you’re just taking harmless OCPs and IUDs.” More on OCPs later.
There are always two sides to every issue: a positive and a negative. The RH or RP Bill sees the negative side of a big population. The prestigious Wall Street Journal seems to have the ability to see the positive side:
“And his promotion of a “reproductive health” bill is jarring because it would put the Philippines in danger of following China’s path into middle-income development followed by a demographic trap of too few workers. The Philippines doesn’t have too many people, it has too few pro-growth policies.”
A Yahoo! article featured Ruchir Sharma, chief of the Emerging Markets Equity team at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, who praised our country’s population in his book aptly entitled “Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles”:
“Surprisingly, for Sharma, PH’s booming population is not a disadvantage. In fact, he claims that the high population is a “big economic plus” because “the concentration of people and business drives growth.”
Way back first quarter of 2012, the Inquirer also featured HSBC, in its study predicting the largest economies by 2050, placed the Philippines at the 16th place “leapfrogging” 27 places up from its last study.
“The most potent recipe for growth is a country that scores highly on the fundamentals discussed but currently has low income per capita. These economies should deliver the highest growth in income per capita as they ‘catch up’ with those with similar fundamentals.”
“The losers are the small population, aging economies of Europe.”
Many countries have also regretted their family planning programs and are now suffering its consequences. A Singaporean traced the history of family planning programs in Singapore and the kind of “brainwashing” that their government has made on them making them believe that they are overpopulated even though they weren’t. Reversing the effects is definitely more costly than the amount of expenditures of the government for contraceptive devices. Many ageing countries are incentivizing couples to encourage them to have more children. Incentives could go from free education, longer maternity and paternity leaves, financial assistance for the first few months and years of the baby, tax discounts and many others.
History repeats itself, and it will continue to repeat itself until the people responsible for society learns from the mistakes of others.
Other than population control measures, I think it’s also high time that we close this issue on the birth control devices and their side effects. Sen. Pia Cayetano has mightily proclaimed on her blog that these are medically safe. Allow me to share some studies:
- From the WHO itself: IARC Monographs compelling evidence that OCPs increase risk of Breast Cancer
- From the Lancet Oncology
- On the ineffectiveness of condoms in preventing STDs
- Common knowledge about how IUDs actually work as abortifacient