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A GUIDE TO ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL

This matrix has been prepared by a group of Catholics who feel that a systematic comparison of the arguments for and against the reproductive
health (RH) bill may still serve some purpose at this juncture. It may help to bring the debate from the emotional temper which has characterized it
thus far, to a more rational temper in which both sides attempt to comprehend each others perspectives. It is hoped that this presentation will
allow each side to view the others argumentation as the legitimate offering of reasons in good faith which ought to characterize a democratic
process of deliberation. Such a process must be valued equally by all who are committed to living together in a democracy, be they Catholic or
non-Catholic, pro- or anti-contraception. Questions in the final column are provided to aid further reflection, with a view to clarifying positions and,
perhaps, to building compromises that are morally and politically acceptable to both sides.

Eleanor R. Dionisio

ISSUE ANTI-RH BILL PRO-RH BILL QUESTIONS


I. LEGISLATION OF AN RH-BILL
Necessity of RH Bill

1. Overpopulation 1. Overpopulation is not the 1. Managing population growth Are overpopulation and graft and
problem. The problems are is not the sole solution to corruption mutually exclusive
government corruption and poverty but is part of the issues? Or ought they to be
the unequal distribution of solution. addressed simultaneously?
wealth and resources.

2. Availability/Provision of 2. RH information and services 2. Access to RH information Is It legitimate for local


RH information, are already available. and services is difficult for the government units unilaterally to
resources and services poor. Local government enact laws that limit access to RH
officials can also prevent information and services in their
access through local localities?
legislation.

3. Healthcare for mothers 3. Other laws already cover many 3. Providing poor couples with Is the Church doing enough to
and children, especially healthcare issues, such as options for planning families educate poor couples about
among the poor and breastfeeding, domestic can help further to improve Natural Family Planning (NFP)?
ISSUE ANTI-RH BILL PRO-RH BILL QUESTIONS
vulnerable groups violence, HIV/AIDS the life chances of mothers
discrimination, and drug and children. Are existing health care policies
regulation. and programs adequate to the
needs of mothers and children? Is
the Church doing enough to
support and push for the provision
of health care for mothers and
children by existing policies and
programs?

Morality of RH Bill The RH Bill is not just a Catholic Because the RH Bill affects all How does one strike a balance
issue but concerns universal Filipinos, not just Catholics, it between recognizing universal
human rights and values. The Bill allows every Filipino to choose the goods that must be protected and
threatens intrinsic rights, such as method of family planning and respecting the different ways
the right to life, health, education sexual education that is consistent religious traditions interpret the
of children, and religious freedom. with ones religious beliefs and protection of these goods?
moral convictions. The Bill actually
protects human rights by providing
freedom of choice.

Separation of Church and The State should adopt the While each religious group is free What is the proper relationship
State Catholic position because the and encouraged to express its between the Catholic Church and
majority of Filipinos are Catholic. moral convictions, the State a democratic government of a
cannot favor one religious group religiously plural society?
over the others.

The constitutional guarantee of


religious freedom obligates the
State to protect religious minorities
from the legislative imposition of
the beliefs of religious majorities.

The Catholic teachings on Even the interpretation of natural How can differing religious
contraception are based on law can vary from one religious interpretations of natural law arrive
natural law which is accessible tradition to another. at common ground for the crafting
and applicable to all. of policy?

Use of Government Funds Government funds to be allocated The government, while trying to Is it productive to use taxes for
for the distribution of provide basic social services, education on reproductive health
ISSUE ANTI-RH BILL PRO-RH BILL QUESTIONS
contraceptives and the considers the implementation of and for the provision of better
implementation of other the RH Bill integral to improving access to artificial contraceptives?
components of the RH Bill can the lives of Filipinos, the poor Can better ways of using taxes be
better be used improving especially. proposed?
educational and health services,
especially for the poor.

Taxes paid by the majority Taxes, once paid to the In what other ways are taxes used
Catholic Filipinos should not be government, have no religious which violate Catholic teaching?
spent on contraceptives, the identity and are to be used for the Do Catholics claim the right to
usage of which is deemed common good. contest all those uses and if not,
immoral by the Catholic Church. what criteria are used to decide
which of such uses to contest?

II. CONTENTS OF THE RH-BILL


Abortion

1. Abortifacients 1. The Bill will allow 1. The Constitution prohibits Is the BFAD effectively doing its
contraceptiveswith abortion and the RH Bill job of implementing existing laws
abortifacient effectsto be recognizes that abortion is that protect the sanctity of life and
sold and accessed legally, illegal. The Bureau of Food health of Filipinos?
thus potentially contributing to and Drugs (BFAD) can
the rise of abortions. prevent the sale and
distribution of drugs or
devices that have harmful
effects to human life or health.

2. Start of Human Life 2. Human life starts at the 3. The RH Bill is silent on this Should there be specific
moment of fertilization. matter, but indirectly refers to legislation clearly to define the
the Constitution which upholds start of human life at the moment
protection of the unborn at the of fertilization, in order to aid the
moment of conception. interpretation of the constitutional
prohibition against abortion?

Contraception

1. Morality 1. Contraception violates the 1. Catholics are not forced by How should a Church in the
integrity and sacredness of the bill to use contraception; modern world, with commitment to
ISSUE ANTI-RH BILL PRO-RH BILL QUESTIONS
the marital act, the purpose of they can use NFP if they wish. ecumenism and interreligious
which is unitive (uniting the However, other religious dialogue, engage in public
couple in love and fidelity) and groups do not find discourse over matters about
procreative (producing contraception immoral for which moral norms differ along
offspring). married couples. religious lines?

2. Effectiveness 2. Contraceptives are not always 3. NFP can fail also and lead to Who has the authority and
reliable and effective in abortion decisions. Abortion competence to speak on the
preventing conception. decisions can also be made effectiveness of family planning
when people who do not use methods: the Church, the scientific
They can fail and such failures any form of contraception are community, or the end users?
can lead to abortion decisions. unable to abstain.
What is the real relationship
Contraceptives can prevent between contraception and
abortion because they can abortion based on empirical
prevent unwanted evidence?
pregnancies.

3. Consequences

a. Sexual Behavior 3a. The availability of 3a. Contraceptives, with proper What are authoritative and reliable
contraceptives can encourage information and guidance, can data on the relationship between
risky and irresponsible sexual prevent the worst access to contraceptives and
behavior, especially among consequences of irresponsible increases in rates of pre-
the youth. This consequent sexual acts, such as marital/extra marital sex, STDs,
contraceptive mentality unplanned pregnancies, and teenage pregnancies?
reduces sexuality to its abortions, and the spread of
physical component, fosters sexually transmitted diseases
sexual promiscuity, and can (STDs).
undermine marriages.

b. Health 3b. Contraceptives can cause 3b. Contraceptives like other What contraceptives available in
cancer and other health available drugs or food can the Philippines have medically
problems. have health-related side- proven dangerous side effects?
effects, whether used Is the BFAD properly doing its job
properly or improperly. What of preventing the sale of
is important is regulation and contraceptives that have
proper information for users. dangerous side-effects?
Are users properly informed
ISSUE ANTI-RH BILL PRO-RH BILL QUESTIONS
before they are prescribed, given,
or sold such contraceptives?

Sex Education

1. By Parents 1. Parents have the 1. Parents can opt not to send How does the Church prepare
responsibility for the sexual their children to the sex parents to teach their children
education of their children. education courses provided by about the values and virtues
the Bill. related to sexuality?

2. By Schools 2. The mandatory nature of the 2. School-based sex education is Is it acceptable to provide for
sex education curriculum of necessary as a support to sectarian schools to have their
the Bill will force Catholic parent-administered sex own curriculum for sexuality
schools to teach matters that education. education that conforms to their
go against Catholic teachings. religious traditions?