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The freedom to choose is for all

With the debate on the RH bill heating up it is time to question certain assumptions. The essential difference is between what the Church teaches and what the state wants to do. The Church is seen as being dogmatic and out of date while the state is regarded as progressive and in step with the times. In my opinion this is not entirely true.

Indeed there is enough proof to show that population control does not work. The countries that adopted it have come to grief because they have lost the young who would have worked in the next generation. The assumption that population control is good for a country’s economy has been proven wrong. Whatever good it does to an economy is temporary and short lived. The solution to poverty lies elsewhere and yet we are being led to continue a failed cause.

The Church’s teachings on population control hinge on its interpretation of when life begins but I have yet to hear of Catholics being excommunicated for using artificial contraceptives. The bottom line is the freedom of choice of an individual. This must belong to all.

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Individuals, especially women, whether rich or poor, should be free to make their choice. Not so today. The Church’s teachings notwithstanding, only rich and middle class Filipino women are able to make family planning a personal decision. With the passage of the RH bill, the power of decision will belong to the state. That is not being said in the dogged effort to legislate population control. It is true not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well.

The poor as the target of population control is the polite term for depopulation. Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote in National Security Memo 200, dated April 24, 1974, that “depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy. The title of the memo was “Implications of world wide population growth for US security & overseas interests.

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According to this memo Kissinger’s rationale for pushing for depopulation had to do with the US economy. It would “require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less-developed countries.”

“Wherever a lessening of population can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resources, supplies and to the economic interests of US.”

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In the past, the USAID funded the population control program in the Philippines but it was decided that the Philippine government should fund its own program. That is why a law had to be passed, the RH bill. Without the law, there could be no government funding. The RH bill was tied up to the Millennium Development Goal and one of the promises of then newly elected President Aquino when he met with the US president. It also became a political issue of the opposition against Aquino.

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The Church may have its teachings but a Catholic who does not believe in the teachings is free to leave the Church. Not so with the state. It has government and the law behind it to enforce population control. The poor cannot escape the state. By all means make family planning accessible to all. But the RH bill will not help the poor make that choice. It will be enforced on them. It is the state, not the church that is overstepping its bounds by denying individuals the right to choose. In depopulating the world the teeming poor would bear the brunt of coercive state control. The thinking here is if they are poor and ignorant they are dispensable and we should have less of them. It is a class war.

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The lines of battle have been drawn between the Church and the opposition on one side and the Aquino government on the other. I will not be surprised if the pork barrel card will be used to get the bill passed.

The opposition has become an ally of the Church for different reasons. Although it has been said there is no Catholic vote, the equation changes if the Church partners with the opposition. So why did lawmakers stay away from Congress if there was no Catholic vote?

What will be watched keenly is how the President will force through the RH bill in Congress as he is expected to do so. It is believed that he had a hand when a few days ago, the House of Representatives suddenly had a quorum to put the RH bill back on the floor with what they called a substitute bill.

It succeeded in having a substitute bill accepted.

If the House sustains the quorum in the next 11 days of session, lawmakers will go into the period of individual amendments and then vote for second and third reading. 

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In response, the Catholic Church is not without with its own weapons. The bishops say they will issue a Pastoral Letter that would articulate their position and test the value of moral strength in politics.

Aquino’s call that the RH bill should not be left hanging has only exacerbated the politics of the issue. It has quickened the pace for getting a vote on the bill. The Senate aims to put the RH bill to a vote before it adjourns for Christmas.

The Church’s position to reject even a substitute bill is to go back to the original impetus that made it an American foreign policy. As far as the Church is concerned, it is the same wolf in sheep’s clothing.  The guarantee of universal access to the methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education and maternal health care is unacceptable because a thin line divides accessibility from coercion if depopulation is the aim.

I would agree with Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes that “the Church’s aim in objecting against HB4244 is to protect not only the good of Catholics but the good of all, Catholics and non-Catholics.” The freedom to decide must belong to all.

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What was originally an issue in geopolitics has been obscured by local politics in the Philippines. It isn’t whether there is a Catholic vote or not. Neither is it about making sure that there is a quorum during the 11 days to get the RH bill to escort the bill to approval. The reason has less to do with who gets elected and who does not. We are playing blind to the origins of the RH bill to depopulate the world to favor wealthier and more powerful nations. It is still about National Security 200. The teeming poor whose only weapon is their numbers is the problem and have to be disabled.

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