By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
HB 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011 or RH Bill has spawned debates that in turn engendered the jargon “pro-life” that the conservative wing of the Catholic hierarchy uses to rally its flock to fight it (there is also the progressive wing, you know).
February 3, the faction that usurped the title “the Church” mobilized mostly students of Catholic schools in major Philippine cities against the RH Bill that it calls “pro-abortion”.
I am one of the many who itch to defy the likes of Fray Butod and Padre Damaso whose stand on population development throws the country back to antiquity. They misguide the flock, you and me, to the Dark Ages.
In the Dark Ages, only a minority, the “clerics”, knew how to read and write. Together with the landed gentry or feudal lords, they monopolized knowledge. Their quack sense of religion explained why scientists and geniuses of the time were persecuted, even physically extirpated, as heretics or witches, in their rabid defense of their dogma that the world was flat and that kings and hierarchs of the Church were divine representatives.
Today, they are at it again. But let make it clear, I am Catholic; I spent eight years of my young life in the seminary, hoping but failed, to be one of the ordained ministers.
The brand “pro-life” however, only switches on a portion of my brain to fire back with questions like “why?” or “what do you mean”.
Perhaps, Francis Wulleman, CICM (bless his soul), our professor in philosophy is very much alive nagging us his students to question everything especially dogmas considered immutable even if they were supposed to have been written by god and reproduced by a faction of the Church that arrogates on itself that right to represent the Almighty One to the exclusion of the rest, especially the pro-RH Bill advocates.
The RH Bill does not advocate abortion; it seeks to empower couple, especially women to make informed choices in determining the number of their children. It also teaches young people to avoid teen-age pregnancy which is as real as the number of young girls dying from pregnancy related deaths.
The holy ones who brand themselves “pro-life” want to spread the “moral” practices of chastity and abstinence-outside-marriage which is as surreal as the sordid history of sexual abuses and perversion involving no less than the princes of the Church themselves.
Our friend, columnist Peter Jimenea, has been unequivocal for the passage of the RH Law, and dubs the quack religious leaders “hypocrites”. He refuses to call the antis “pro-life”. In one column, he coins the battle cry: “excommunicate me!”
The RH Bill is the Philippines’ commitment to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), being one of the 193 signatories, all UN members, to the MDG in 2000. The MDG aims for eight targets, among them reduction of poverty, infant morality and maternal deaths.
The World Health Organization and our Department of Health are dismayed by Philippines’ failure to reduce maternal deaths.
Rey Gamboa of philSTAR.com, writes that maternal mortality rate (MMR) in 2011 went up to 221 out of 100,000 live births, a 36.42 percent jump over the last decade, reports the Family Health Survey. In contrast, the country’s yearly MMR averaged only 162 : 100,000 between 2006 and 2011.
The WHO defines maternal death as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy. The Philippine government has committed to reduce the country’s MMR to 70 by 2015 but given the recent uptrend, that goal looks impossible to attain.
In daily figures, the MMR in the Philippines is 10, according to the National Statistics Offices. With 10 pregnant or newly delivered mothers dying daily means 30 children growing up without their biological mothers. That translates to 30 MMRs with 300 Filipino children orphaned in one month.
Assuming a 30-day month, the statistics further means 360 MMRs per year with 3,600 young Pinoys living without their biological mothers.
The WHO says that maternal deaths are preventable by empowering women, giving them access to information, and breaking the chain of mass ignorance by teaching young Filipinos in school about their bodies and gender.
Congress must enact the law now.