My comments on Senator Sotto’s lack of information regarding Margaret Sanger (in Part 1) and eugenics sparked a reaction from a total stranger on Twitter. In it, user @szymonsylvia (who has since changed her regular name to “The Czajas”, leaving me unable to fully identify her) said:
“ah, margaret sanger, the founder of planned parenthood – the biggest pusher of abortion.”
I did not take issue with the Planned Parenthood part of the statement, since they are indeed responsible for majority of the legal and reported abortions in the United States. However, the fact that she connected Sanger’s name to the statement made me realize just how much she’d been demonized. Sanger found the notion of abortion absolutely repulsive, going so far as to say that it was a “disgrace to civilization.” She advocated contraception as a means to prevent abortions.
Pictured: Anti-abortion shield.
Now, I was ready to dismiss @szymonsylvia as either a bot or someone with far too much time on her hands, judging from her behavior on Twitter. I mean, she did say that the human gestation period lasted about three years (twice). Looking through her other tweets, though, it became apparent that she was convinced the RH Bill would lead to abortion. This was one of her biggest concerns with the bill, seeing as how she constantly brought the matter of being “pro-life” up in her diatribes. It dawned on me then that there was a chance she didn’t read the whole of the bill, which is expressly against abortion.
The word “abortion” is mentioned in the RH Bill (now Responsible Parenthood Bill) a grand total of six times. I’ll copy the content here, along with any applicable context in blue, with running commentary:
Sec. 3. Guiding Principles
This acts declares the following as guiding principles:
10. While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner;
In a nutshell, this basically says that abortion is and will remain illegal in our country. However, it also acknowledges the fact that people will continue to have abortions regardless of their legality. In many cases, hospitals refuse to care for patients suffering severe complications from abortions out of worry of being connected to the illegal act. Women have died because hospitals refused to care for their injuries, which is incredibly contradictory to the Hippocratic Oath. The RH Bill, through this provision, hopes to put an end to such situations.
Sec. 4. Definition of Terms
For the purposes of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:
“(t) Reproductive Health Care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include:
(3) proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;
Basically, what the bill is saying here is that whenever the term “reproductive health care” is mentioned, it goes with understanding that they mean the “proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications” along with it. “Proscription” is more of less the opposite of prescription – when you “proscribe” something, you’re prohibiting it. The statement as a whole therefore reinforces the guiding principle detailed earlier; when the bill talks about reproductive health care, it also means the prohibition of abortion and the care for health problems in case someone decides to get an illegal abortion. It explicitly states the banning of abortion and the management of its harmful effects as an important characteristic of reproductive health care.
Sec. 8. Maternal and Newborn Health Care in Crisis Situations
…Temporary facilities such as evacuation centers and refugee camps shall be equipped to respond to the special needs in the following situations: normal and complicated deliveries, pregnancy complications, miscarriage and post-abortion complications, spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs, and sexual and gender-based violence.
In simpler terms, any sanctioned areas people are supposed to run to in the middle of disasters should be equipped to deal with reproductive health problems. A refugee camp in the middle of a flood, for example, should have delivery tables and other related medical supplies. Here, the “post-abortion complications” provision is included in the off-chance that somebody got an illegal abortion right before World War III hit the Philippines. Even the smallest of shelters should have some measure of health care.
Sec. 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education
…Age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education shall be integrated in all relevant subjects and shall include, but not limited to, the following topics:
(j) proscription and hazards of abortion;
The sex education part will tell kids, when they’re ready, that abortion is illegal in this country and explain the many bad effects it has on the human body. Again, this is in line with everything that’s been mentioned.
To sum it all up, here’s what the RH Bill says about abortion in caveman-speak:
- Constitution say abortion bad.
- Yes, abortion bad.
- It not allowed.
- Some people not listen to us.
- If they get abortion, we fix booboo just in case.
- If big bad happen to everyone, we still fix booboo.
- When little kids not so little, we say abortion not allowed and abortion bad for body.
It’s pretty cut-and-dry that the RH Bill is the opposite of legalizing abortion. So why do a number of its opponents argue differently? Like in the case of Senator Sotto, they’re misinformed.
No kill babby, k?
It’s not hard to find people spreading lies about the RH Bill’s stance on abortion, either. You can find it in this slideshow on a site that may or may not be endorsed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which gives a slippery slope argument that contraceptive use leads to riskier behavior which results in unwanted pregnancies and subsequently, abortions, regardless of the fact that contraceptives are designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. You can also find it in statements by Bishop Teodoro Bacani, whose argument of contraceptives being abortifacient hinges on an unwinnable (by either side) debate on at which point life actually begins. These arguments, as wracked with logical fallacies as they may be, are used in such a way to convince the public that the RH Bill is pro-abortion. It doesn’t do much help, either, that they drew a line between being pro-life and pro-RH, as though it were impossible that a person can be both (it’s possible).
These authority figures don’t trust their followers to do the right thing, and would rather be blindly obeyed than agreed with after giving the matter rational thought. They dictate what people should think and do, and argue to the point where they lambast the opposition based on false pretenses. They scare their followers into believing they’re right. Even more, they don’t trust the state, insisting there’s always some hidden imperialist agenda behind everything.
Here’s something to think about: what makes people think that the CBCP doesn’t have a hidden agenda whenever it voices its support for a particular political candidate, as the organization is wont to do every election? This mindless paranoia is steering us away from any likelihood of having an intelligent, direction-oriented debate.
Hidden agenda? Of course not!
The RH Bill is, in many respects, a pro-life bill. It is far from a eugenics bill, and it is more or less the opposite of an abortion bill. Let’s keep being pro-abortion and pro-eugenics out of the discussion, because they never had a place in there to begin with. You could start by facing the facts.