Joining the conversation
I’m not one to publicly air my thoughts on national debates. I’m aware of the repercussions of loudly venting one’s every tiny idea on the social media sphere. I have avoided the awful and public regret of words spoken or typed in heat by leaving my fieriest thoughts unsaid.
But while silence is at times the best course, conversation is also, at other times, necessary. I feel that the RH Bill debate is exactly that: a necessary conversation.
I say conversation—not argument and not, as Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles calls it, “war.” The RH Bill and whether or not it should be passed ought to be a subject discussed in a rational manner by intelligent, reasonable minds unclouded by personal gain, whether material or spiritual.
But that’s not what’s happening. The Internet has allowed everyone its voice, and as we’ve seen time and again, it has become the battleground of opinion, with everyone fervently expressing their beliefs as indomitable truth. In this case, insults have been exchanged. Proponents of the bill have been called sinful and ungodly, while those against it have been deemed unenlightened and idiotic. Neither side wants to give ground, and voices of reason from both ends are drowned in the chaos.
As it is, there are a few things in the argument against the bill that I don’t quite understand.
First, anti-RH Bill advocates say the free contraception clause promotes the immoral act of sex before marriage. My thinking is… people are already having sex before marriage. Making contraception available can only help prevent unintended pregnancy, and thus prevent abortion (because no one who wants to have a child will kill it once conceived). I’m pretty sure the message of free contraception is not “go forth and have sex without multiplying” but “if you must have sex don’t spread diseases or have children you will murder in the womb.”
I’ve also read that the Catholic Church feels that the poor have the ability to discipline themselves, that instilled with the proper education and moral values they will of their own accord deny themselves the sexual act to avoid having more children. So the Church asks, why give out contraception if NFP is available? They feel that proponents of the bill have no faith in the self-control of the masses.
Well, the Church is right. The poor—and the rich, and the middle class for that matter—have every right and every ability to abstain from sex. But the bill doesn’t mandate use of contraception; it only mandates its distribution. If a person, whatever their social status, chooses to abstain from sex because they feel it is morally wrong, then they will do so whether or not contraception is available. In the same way, there are people who know exactly what they’re in for but still choose to have unprotected premarital or even extramarital sex, just because they want to. It happens. Neither the Church nor the government can nor should they force people to stop having sex. The same statement applies to the use of contraception.
The bill, in effect, encourages choice. It doesn’t encourage people to have sex before marriage—which people are already doing, in any case. The bill only helps ensure that if after weighing their moral values, a couple decides to have sex, it is within their means to engage in the act in a safe, healthy manner, no matter their social status. The Church hopes that everyone will decide to choose abstinence, but the reality is that will never happen. And while not everyone will choose to use contraception either, the point is that it is available equally, to everyone. I can’t see what’s so wrong with that.
The other thing that’s bothering me about this whole affair is that it’s becoming a State versus Church thing. It shouldn’t be. The two should be working hand-in-hand because both claim to be working for the good of this country. While there will inevitably be disagreements in method, if the goal is the same, then such conflicts should be addressed without too much difficulty… or name-calling and accusations. The Church should respect the government’s decisions on matters of state as should the government the Church’s in matters of religion. Is that idea so naive?
For my part, I believe in the RH bill. I don’t think it’s the solution to all our problems as a nation. It won’t end poverty or overpopulation, nor will it save every single mother and mother-to-be from dying in childbirth. Neither will passing the bill mean that it will be implemented the way its makers meant it.
It’s a law, after all, not a miracle.
But I do believe it’s a step in the right direction: a direction that encourages people to choose, to weigh options, to think for themselves instead of swallowing beliefs because they know nothing else. I do not accuse those anti the RH bill of being ignorant. They have their own rationale for opposing this bit of legislation. But I feel that such a bill can only be for the good of this country and its people, and that its passage will mark a step towards our maturity as a modern nation.
Let’s keep the comments friendly, please. :)
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