Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Feedback to "Overwhelming case for the RH Bill"


Dear Editor,

I must admit that I was "overwhelmed" when I read the article "Overwhelming case for the RH Bill" (PDI, 13 October 2012). It presented so many points aimed at either dismissing the claims of pro-life opposers of RH Bill or bolster the "purported" legitimacy and timeliness of the Bill.

But after several calm and peaceful re-reading of the article, my feeling of "shock and awe" fizzled-out. I came to see the article and RH Bill for what it really is.

Please allow me to convey my opinion.

Despite the well-written and eloquent essay of some of the main sponsors of the House Bill No. 4244, RH Bill is still inhumane, anti-Filipino, anti-woman, anti-marriage, and anti-family. In response to several points in the article, I will highlight only ONE aspect which I think is more fundamental, permanent, and has far-reaching consequences. I am referring to paragraph 17 of the article:

"The RH Bill, first of all, is about the right of women to control their own bodies. It is about choice, especially the primordial choice of a woman, together with her partner, to determine the size of her family."
This statement springs from an "inadequate, insufficient and impoverished" anthropology of the human person. It is obvious that it treats the woman's body as "inessential" to her personhood. It is as if the "body" is just a mere "external equipment" of the human person. In this line of thinking, begetting children is nothing different from animal reproduction. It negates the "spiritual" dimension of procreation where the Almighty Creator God is mysteriously involved in contributing to the "spiritual soul" of the new child rendering her or him a totally unique and totally unrepeatable human person.

This preoccupation to "control" reflects the "the modern passion to dominate the world and everything bodily by the means of technology. One looks upon the material world, and even one's own human body, as nothing but raw material for human making and manufacturing, as if everything in nature receives its meaning from what man chooses to do with it. As a result, we become estranged from our bodies, looking at them as objects over against us". (John F.Crosby, "Embodiment", Lay Witness magazine, October 2000)

Blessed John Paul II spoke of this "confusion" between the desire to "dominate the world, including one's body, through technology", in this case contraceptive technologies, and the task of acquiring "self-mastery and virtues" over one's disordered impulses: "The problem lies in maintaining the adequate relationship between that which is defined as "domination...of the forces of nature" (HV 2) and "self-mastery" (HV 21), which is indispensable for the human person. Contemporary man shows the tendency of transferring the methods proper to the first sphere to those of the second. ...This extension of the sphere of the means of "domination...of the forces of nature" threatens the human person for whom the method of "self-mastery" is and remain specific. [Self-mastery] corresponds in fact to the fundamental constitution of the person: it is a perfectly "natural" method. The transposition of "artificial means," by contrast, breaks the constitutive dimension of the person, deprives man of the subjectivity proper to him, and turns him into an object of manipulation." (John Paul II, General Audience of August 22, 1984)

Such a "choice", where the human person is reduced to an "object", a "thing", is certainly misplaced and not to the best interest of the woman.

Contrary to this materialistic anthropology, Blessed John Paul II, in his "Theology of the Body", taught that the "body" has a symbolic and spiritual meaning: "We have an invisible dimension. We can think in a way animals can't, and we can reach up to God, our Creator, to communicate with him as the animals can't. We can know and love. We can relate to God intimately. Furthermore, human beings can relate intimately with each other. We are, therefore, a mixture---a unity---of what is seen and unseen. We have a visible and an invisible dimension. ... But these two dimension ... are not separate. They have been, in a sense, "thrown together". These precisely what we mean by the word "symbol". The word is derived from the the Greek word that means "to be thrown together". In the case of human beings, the visible and the invisible are thrown together. Both are real, and both make up the human person." (Anthony Percy, Theology of the Body Made Simple)

Blessed John Paul II proposed an alternative anthropology through his "Theology of the Body". This theology has enrichingly, sufficiently and adequately explained that contraception, the main component of RH Bill, is "intrinsically evil" and ought not be legislated in human laws. Employing "artificial family planning" as means to determine size of one's family will prove counter-productive.

Pursuing a public policy anchored on such an erroneous understanding of the human person is "fatal and disastrous". We can already see this happening in the gradual and irreversible process of "demographic winter" in several countries. This outlook is also reflected in the seemingly insurmountable and invincible social problem of human trafficking.

Moreover, such a policy runs contrary to the development of self-discipline and mutual respect as Pope Paul VI prophetically foresaw even as early as 1968: "a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection." (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae)

Such a policy will be a hindrance to a much higher goal of developing a more responsible disciplined citizenry essential in attaining authentic socio-economic progress and prosperity.

I am convinced that the article has, after all, nothing overwhelming in it. The only "overwhelming" thing in it is its title.

Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae
Pope John Paul II, Theology of the Body
John Paul II, General Audience of August 22, 1984
John F.Crosby, "Embodiment", Lay Witness magazine, October 2000

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I was born in one of the coastal towns in the Maqueda Bay area, Western Samar. I attended pre-primary school in a city in Metro Manila. I finished elementary school in that Western Samar coastal town. I also attended and finished high school there. I attended college in one of the state universities in Metro Manila. I read and studied inland fisheries, aquaculture and applied biology. I read political-economy in my graduate studies in a college of the same state university. While in college, I attended activities organized by a non-profit firm and later volunteered as staffer in some of its projects. I assisted the editing and writing of a handbook. I worked as salesman for a publishing company. I joined another non-profit firm to start a school in the Southern Tagalog area. I taught highschool chemistry and values education at a private school in Metro Manila. I taught related-subjects at a private technical school. I volunteered in some activities of a non-profit firm and later worked as one of its project officers.