Abortion always manages to find its way into the RH Bill debate, and for the life of me, I could not understand why some pro-life advocates argue that the bill permits the procedure. The operative word here is could. A brief encounter with a stranger on Twitter helped enlighten things for me.
It started when Vicente “Tito” Sotto, a former-actor now-senator in my celebrity-loving country, went on a debate with Miriam Defensor-Santiago, another senator, regarding the RH Bill. Sotto was very much against the bill, while Santiago is a proponent of its passage. I skipped on watching the debate because, quite honestly, I entrust very few politicians in my country to be able to carry out enlightening discourse.
The honorable senator (in blue).
A local news organization, however, highlighted a portion of the debate that caught my eye. In it, he expressed his concern with the bill because a number of its advocates are connected to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which was founded by Margaret Sanger who, according to Sotto, is the “inventor of this scientific term called eugenics.” He went on to define eugenics as a method of eliminating “the poor, the weak, the useless, and the uneducated.”
Now, I don’t support eugenics – in fact, I find the notion appalling – but I was quite frustrated with the misinformation tactics Sotto was using to win favor in the debate. He touched upon two cheap shots with his argument: one, creating a pariah by naming the inventor of a strange, scary-sounding scientific term; and two, insinuating that this strange term involved the killing of what makes up a vast majority of the Filipino people.
I may not have found any issue with this tactic if the facts he were saying were true; after all, people are entitled to their own opinions regarding the truth. Unfortunately, Sotto was either intentionally or unintentionally spouting out falsehoods to drive his point across. First of all, his claim that eugenics was created by Margaret Sanger is entirely untrue, because the very first recorded notion of eugenics was in Plato’s Republic, written over a thousand years before Sanger was even conceived. In it, he discussed how the government should regulate the population’s reproductive behavior through a form of stratification; gold people should mate with gold people, silvers with silvers, and bronzes with bronzes. By Plato’s logic, this form of control would yield predictable results in births, allowing a population to maximize the number of “gold souls” among them. Plato’s principles would later be distilled through scientific progress by Thomas Galton, Charles Davenport, and other minds, then horribly interpreted by the Nazis, and later condemned and revised before ever reaching Sanger. So no, Margaret Sanger did not “invent” eugenics. It wasn’t even very scientific to begin with.
Margaret Sanger, according to Senator Sotto.
Second, eugenics was never meant as a method of eliminating the existing poor and uneducated. It’s a philosophy for improving the human gene pool so that future generations may benefit from better genetic stock. The Nazis, of course, bastardized this notion by killing off whoever they found to be inferior, fully destroying which was, in Plato’s mind at least, a noble intention. By the time the idea reached Sanger’s mind, it had been modified to simply reduce the number of births formed through weak genetic stock. In fact, she argued against proponents of eugenics who supported the “euthanasia of the unfit.” We won’t kill you, but do try to avoid having babies. Another major difference between Sanger’s and Plato’s eugenics was that Sanger asserted that the decision on whether or not to reproduce was placed wholly on the individual, meaning the government had no right to intervene. The government could use propaganda and provide incentives to achieve these goals, but could not mandate the cessation of reproduction. The choice remained with the individuals, not like Plato’s citizens, who were subject to a secretly-fixed lottery.
Again, I’m not in agreement with this philosophy, but it is quite different from Sotto’s brutish definition. The funny thing is, if Sotto had merely checked Wikipedia for a simplified crash course on the term, he might’ve known what he was talking about. I expressed this point on my Twitter account, which now brings us to the second matter: abortion.