PRO-LIFERS urge Thomasians to write their Congress representatives to defeat a bill that they say will legalize abortion. The call was made as the bill’s sponsors disregarded opposition in what pro-lifers said was a “rude” way to railroad the passage of the bill.

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Health held its final public hearing on the bill, the Reproductive Health Care Act, last April 29.

Among those present to oppose the bill were Dr. Victoria Edna Garayblas-Monzon of the UST Bioethics Committee, Atty. Jo Imbong of the legal office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Fenny Tatad of the CBCP Office on Women, and representatives from Pro-Life Philippines.

The bill went through several revisions, but its controversial provisions have been retained and even expanded. Among them are the following:

  • The entry of terms like “reproductive rights” and “reproductive health” in Philippine law, said to have been coined by radical feminists and population control extremists to sugar-coat abortion.
  • The explanatory notes of the bill, often denied to the public, which seek to remove legal barriers to abortion.
  • The full availability of contraceptive methods, some of which are abortifacients (interceptives) and produce serious side effects.
  • The free access to contraceptives for adolescents aged 13-24, without “third party” authorization from parents.
  • Unrestricted voluntary sterilization and “other reproductive procedures” for married individuals without their reproductive partner’s consent.
  • Liberal thrust for gender and sexual orientation, which may allow for legislation of homosexual lifestyles.
  • The allocation of P50 million in the general appropriation act for reproductive health (RH), which will deprive expenditures for more basic needs.
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In an interview with the Varsitarian, Pro-Life national coordinator Sr. Pilar Verzosa, RGS said the public must be aware of euphemisms in the bill such as “reproductive rights” and “reproductive health.”

In the position paper submitted to Congress by Pro-Life Philippines, the group showed evidence that the revised bill is really for abortion, citing the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) Bulletin put out by the very authors and lobbyists of the bill, which equates RH with abortion. Since the law only permits indirect abortion resulting from procedures on medical conditions wherein the life of the mother is at stake (e.g. ectopic pregnancy), the bill’s explanatory notes propose extending the exceptions to unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.

In its position paper, Pro-Life upholds the right to life as the most fundamental of rights. Furthermore, abortion and the use of artificial contraceptives—as part of reproductive rights and health—are opposed. First, they are not reproductive, Sr. Versoza said. They act against reproduction and the normal functions of the reproductive system. Second, they are unhealthy. Contraceptives have side effects while abortion results in post-abortion stress syndrome and other complications harmful to women.

Safe sex rights?

The revised bill provides adolescents aged 13-24 with the constellation of family planning methods and techniques. Any requirement for parental interference can be considered as discriminatory refusal to extend “quality RH” services on the basis of age.

However, Celebrate Life Youth Network, Pro-Life Philippines’ youth subgroup, sent a position paper maintaining that early sexual activity even with family planning is dangerous to teenagers. According to them, the proposed right to a satisfying and safe sex life cannot be a prerogative for individuals especially the youth, whose reproductive bodies and behavior still need further maturity. They criticized the notion of equating “safe sex” with condom use, highlighting its failure in preventing pregnancy and STD transmission.

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Dr. Monzon, USTH cardiologist, said she has patients suffering from cardiac difficulties due to pill use. In the light of substantiated side effects of contraceptives, she said contraceptive devices devices must not be left to people’s choices.

Dr. Monzon added that some popular contraceptives, such as IUDs, pills, and hormonal injections, are really abortifacients.

“This is the reason why one of the tactics of groups wanting the entry of abortifacients is messing up with the beginning of life—the moment of fertilization,” Sr. Verzosa said.

On April 27, a rally against the bill was held in Cagayan de Oro City. Organized by lay people, the rally was attended by farmers, fishermen, office workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, youth, NGOs, and rural folk. Simultaneous rallies were also conducted in Cebu and Metro Manila.

According to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino G. Jaraula, senior deputy minority floor leader of the House of Representatives, the first time he read the bill, he found it very convincing, assuring, and well-written. But after further research, he explained that the US Agency for International Aid, World Bank, IMF and other multinational organizations are the behind-the-scene players of the bill. He explained that because the US Kempf-Kasten amendment banned US aid for financing abortions would freeze money for all agencies with “reproductive health programs” like those of the Unicef, WHO, UNDP and World Bank, the bill seeks to fix the multi-million losses for RH funding and contraceptive industry.

Another speaker, Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer of Human Life International-Asia, revealed that the contraceptives promoted by the bill will put women at risk to cancer. He said that the International Agency on Cancer has listed the pill as a carcinogen and that the 1997 World Conference on Breast Cancer cited prolonged use of the pill as one of the risk factors of breast cancer.

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What Thomasians can do

Sr. Verzosa stressed that the problem with the legislators who approved of the bill is ignorance or plain indifference to its real implications. She challenged educators to help inform students about the conspiracy behind the semantic engineering legalizing abortion. She also urged Thomasians to write to their congressmen asking them not to sign the bill.

“Pray hard and try to examine your lifestyle, values, and convictions,” she said. Nicolo F. Bernardo

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