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Catherine M.

Arpilleda

SOC.PHILO

My Personal Stand on the RH Bill I am for LIFE and I'm not in favor of the RH bill
Honestly, even if I didn't have the chance to look into what's in the RH bill but I do believe and have a strong faith in my heart that our Church leaders have made a very thorough study on what's in the bill and what would be the possible outcome and consequences or effects that the bill may cause to all of us - not just for our physical well-being but also for our spiritual wellbeing. That is why, I am for LIFE and I'm not in favor of the bill. We may not be certain about what would be best for us but one thing I am sure of is that God knows what's best for us. So personally, if ever you say 'kinsa man gyud ang sakto' - if i get confused, if I'm not sure, I would feel safe to believe in what the Church says as I strongly believe that God will never ever leave His Church. God bless us always! :) This post will not be a petty post. No, this will not be about Carlos Celdran, the CBCP or some famed columnist who's openly expressed his or her stand on the RH Bill. I'm afraid this will not satisfy the appetite of those who are only after the side issues. My opinion sticks to the RH Bill itself--why it should be passed or not and what are the common misconceptions about it. It will be direct, concise and non-offensive. So if you've been mentally fatigued by the brouhahas of the issue, you might find some sort of respite in reading this blog.

My stand on the RH Bill is, it should be passed. It is a known fact that the State upholds the rights of each and every individual. And primary to these rights is the individual's freedom to choose; hence, it is the government's responsibility to ensure that this freedom is well taken care of. What the RH Bill seeks to provide are adequate information and services that will enable Filipinos to make informed choices for the best interest of their families. I must say that in stating my opinion above, I am both for choice and definitely, for life--two things that the RH Bill stands for. Apparently, objections have been improperly hurled against the Bill out of unfounded opinions, which I will discuss one by one in the next few paragraphs. Myth A - The RH Bill supports abortion. First and foremost, the Bill explicitly states that abortion remains a crime and is punishable. Next, although the Bill ensures the provision of care for women seeking post-abortion care, it does not entail that it supports abortion. I believe that by being unbiased and forgiving, the Bill itself is humane and if you may, very Christian. Further, to say that this Bill will eventually allow abortion to be legalized is by no means true on

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basis that it declares respect to life as a matter of policy. Myth B - The RH Bill will result into an aging and thinning population. The RH Bill shall not enforce any restrictions on the number of children that each family should have, as in the case of China's One Child Policy. The RH Bill strives to educate parents to have the right number of children that they can support well physically, mentally and emotionally. Myth C - The RH Bill destroys the family as an institution. Of course not. It's easy to see that the Bill is created to strengthen the Filipino family simply by reading it. :-) Myth D - The RH Bill encourages teenage / pre-marital sex through Sex Education. The age-appropriate Reproductive Health Education that will be included in the curriculum of both public and private schools aims to raise children to become informed and responsible parents. Among the key concepts to be covered in the curriculum is abstinence before marriage. It is just right to teach these things during the formative years of the individual. Moving on, the RH Bill must not be reduced to the issue of contraceptives. The Bill goes beyond that. It addresses longstanding issues on gender inequality, violence, STDs and gaps in reproductive healthcare and post-natal care, as well as provides the platform for their execution. It aims to make reproductive healthcare education and services both available and accessible to the marginalized. It seeks to bring people together to ensure improved reproductive health and better families for all. It particularly interests me that the Bill provides to ensure that employers will not discriminate against women in consideration of their reproductive health rights, and that the Bill also seeks to have reproductive healthcare services included in Collective Bargaining Agreements. (I have indeed heard a firsthand story of a friend who was rejected by the hiring manager of this large and supposedly Corporate Social Responsibility-embracing financial institution with her being a single parent as one of the cited reasons. At this point also, it seems necessary to point out the need to designate clean and private rooms for breastfeeding and expressing milk in offices and public places.) The Catholic Church is definitely an important institution in the country whose work for the poor has significantly contributed to national development. However, when we talk about policy, the State should supersede the Church being that the latter is just a faction of the population that the State governs. For years, I have kept my silence on the issue because of having to weigh my convictions. People have asked as it seemed highly unlikely for someone who's written on some women's issues through World of Womanity. I am aware that in breaking my silence, I will be attracting criticisms some of which may be just as biased and unfounded as the others. But really, at this point in my life and as a matter of choice, regardless if the RH Bill will be passed or not, I will strive to adhere to my religious principles. Fundamentalism flourishes in a context of fear and uncertainty... But such uncertainty does not

grant one person the right to impose his or her beliefs on another, especially as such beliefs are so often fear-driven. - James Hollis, Ph.D., Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves I HAVE been following the debates on the RH Bill not just in the recent House sessions but practically since its start. In the process, because of what I have said and written (where I have not joined the attack dogs against the RH Bill), I have been called a Judas by a high-ranking cleric, I am considered a heretic in a wealthy barangay where some members have urged that I should leave the Church (which is insane), and one of those who regularly hears my Mass in the Ateneo Chapel in Rockwell came to me disturbed by my position. I feel therefore that I owe some explanation to those who listen to me or read my writings. First, let me start by saying that I adhere to the teaching of the Church on artificial contraception even if I am aware that the teaching on the subject is not considered infallible doctrine by those who know more theology than I do. Moreover, I am still considered a Catholic and Jesuit in good standing by my superiors, critics notwithstanding! Second (very important for me as a student of the Constitution and of church-state relations), I am very much aware of the fact that we live in a pluralist society where various religious groups have differing beliefs about the morality of artificial contraception. But freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. Hence, the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief. As the Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church says, Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups and 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.