Nagging questions

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison () - November 8, 2010 - 12:00am

The “talking points and proposals” advanced by the Loyola School of Theology and the John J Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues supposedly for the use of the proponents and opponents of the RH bill in formulating an amended version that will serve the best interest of the Filipinos may be useful in the dialogue between CBCP and PNoy. But they also contain some objectionable aspects.

In this connection let me just share with you this e-mail I receive a few days ago which I think properly and adequately tackle pertinent portions of these talking points and proposals particularly on contraception and conception. The letter comes from Mr. Jose Teodoro Sagalo who describes himself as one who is “old and will die one of these days” but does not “want to leave this world without doing something about the grave error that the Loyola School of Theology has posted in the Ateneo website endorsed earlier by Fr. Nebres, Ateneo President, for reflection, and now endorsed by Roberto Rivera of the John Carroll Institute”.

Mr. Sagalo singled out the proposal which says that “there can be two separate parallel programs for providing information and training, one for Natural Family Planning (NFP) and another for artificial methods of family planning (with separate budgets)” . The proposal is justified by its authors with the following statement: “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority. Thus it is the duty of the government to provide correct and comprehensive information on all non-abortifacient (as defined by law) family planning methods that are available”.

To Mr. Sagalo, such statement clearly means that “a Catholic School of theology has actually proposed in public, the use of tax payers’ money to train Filipinos to employ methods that are objectively and intrinsically evil”. To back up his claim, Sagalo cited empirical evidence “provided almost entirely by secular or explicitly anti Catholic social scientists willing to follow data where they may lead”. These data show the damaging effects of contraceptives, whether abortifacient or non-abortifacient, among which are the “general lowering of moral standards throughout society, a rise in infidelity, a lessening of respect for women by men and the coercive use of reproductive health technologies” like the forced abortion and sterilization practice in China, wrote Mary Eberstadt a research fellow of the Hoover Institution.

The findings also reveal the “causal link between contraception and abortion” because even if the contraceptives are “non-abortifacient”, they may still fail and result in unwanted pregnancies forcing women especially the unmarried ones to abort their babies. This social scientist (Lionel Tiger) also confirmed through the data he has gathered that all sorts of contraceptives cause “breakdown of families, female impoverishment, trouble in the relationship between the sexes, and single motherhood”.

Then another social scientist who is an atheist and Nobel Prize winner (George Akerlof) confirmed through data he himself gathered, that contraceptive culture has caused increase “in both illegitimacy and abortion”.

Thus, as a citizen Mr. Sagalo denounces this type of proposal as it will “bring irreparable harm” and “will destroy our country”. Then as a Catholic, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says that: “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes as an end or a means, to render procreation impossible, is intrinsically evil”, he likewise denounces this “grave doctrinal error” of a Catholic School of Theology and asks the Pastors of the Church to do something about it.

Another error in the talking points singled out by Mr. Sagalo is about conception which has been “popularly understood as the moment of fertilization…even if medical literature seems to see conception as the moment of implantation”. With such statement, the impression created is that the meaning of conception is merely a constitutional provision that has not been scientifically and medically proven. So it seems to be laying the groundwork to justify the use of contraceptives even after fertilization of the ovum by the sperm but before implantation. Hence women have been emboldened “to continue using contraceptives that are abortifacient because anyway the embryo is only human according to popular understanding and according to law but not according to science.

Yet even the Oxford Medical Dictionary of 2002 has defined conception as the start of pregnancy, when a male germ cell (sperm) fertilizes a female germ cell (ovum) in the fallopian tube. The medical textbook of T.W. Sadler which has been “long respected for its scientific authority, pedagogy, and clinical relevance to medical education”, also states that “the development of a human begins with fertilization. Then also, the Official US Senate Report on the Human Life Statute of 1981 says that: “Physicians, biologists and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being — a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological and scientific writings”.

With all these empirical evidence and scientific proofs confirming the harmful and evil effects of contraceptives to individuals and to society, some legislators and even theologians still insist on this bill granting the freedom to choose and use them for family planning provided there is proper information and training. Why? What is in it for them?

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