Why do Anti-RH advocates connect abortion and the RH Bill? Isn’t the RH Bill against abortion? One answer.Posted: May 22, 2011
Overzealous anti-RH advocates make the insensitive claim that the RH Bill is pro-abortion when, on the contrary, point nine of the bill’s guiding principles emphasizes the government’s status quo: abortion is illegal and the bill does nothing to change that.
We should admit: most RH supporters are against abortion not for any twisted reason but simply because they think it wrong. They aren’t hiding any cards. In fact, the RH lobby has taken pains to distance the movement from pro-abortion pressure groups.
Thus, staying on the abortion issue but improving their argument, those against the RH Bill proposed the abortifacient effects of certain contraceptives. An abortifacient is “a substance that causes pregnancy to end prematurely and causes an abortion” and anti-RH adherents claim that contraceptives such as the pill and the IUD destroy the fertilized egg.
Now this is not a bad argument for it is based on respectable science. However, it is not a strong argument because pro-RH lawmakers can simply prohibit the sale or stocking of contraceptives proven to be abortifacient. This will ban some chemical contraceptives, but it will certainly spare the condom which is never abortifacient.
Thus if on good research abortifacients are struck from the government’s list of contraceptives, what remains of the abortion argument? Very little in terms of directly causing abortion, but what it will do is create a culture without the moral resource needed to oppose it. The RH Bill is the sails of a ship whose final destination is a culture wherein abortion is possible and, in this vessel’s leftward movement toward that new culture, the first port of call is a redefinition of the meaning of sex.
Massive support for the RH Bill confirms a new understanding: sex solely for pleasure is licit as long as fertility is curtailed, an understanding that the RH Bill did not create but merely galvanized and will soon legitimize. Indeed, this understanding has been latent in Filipino culture for some time.
Within this new understanding of sex is a tacit approval of sexual liberty, which rests on a rejection of the natural law that determines sex and sexual pleasure for procreation. If we wish to enjoy sexual pleasure but avoid procreation, then we must curtail what our bodies naturally do. That is, we must prevent the penis and the ovaries from fulfilling their physiology. The male releases sperm that must be stopped with a condom. The female ovulates and this must be stopped with pills. By doing this, we place ourselves above the natural law written on our very members.
This revolution against the limits imposed by human nature is expressed in the idea ‘the right to choose’ or, because the Church must defend the natural law, in the slogans ‘get your rosary out of my ovary’ or ‘no bishops in the bedroom’. In the worldwide debate on sexuality, the ‘right to choose’ emphasizes contraception, the choice of a same-sex partner, and abortion. In the Philippine RH debate, the ‘right to choose’ emphasizes just contraception. However, all three rights – contraception, homosexuality, and abortion – depend on one fundamental idea: “I own my body”. That is, no church, state, or person should interfere with what I choose to do with it.
Within the women’s rights advocacy, this idea is localized on the womb. It is the womb after all that gives birth or suffers abortion and if women like men own their bodies, they too own their wombs.
Abortion is the ugly result of pushing women’s rights too far to the left. We aren’t at abortion yet but through the RH Bill’s legitimization of contraception, we already have the leftward movement of the idea ‘I own my womb’.
But can’t Filipino culture move just slightly leftward so that it accommodates contraception but remains closed to abortion? We can, easily. But our children will not find maintaining the status quo as easy.
It is possible to oppose abortion now, even with the RH Bill passed, because we have the needed cultural resource. This resource allows people to object to abortion without reading a pro-life book or attending a pro-life talk. Most Filipinos are closed to abortion not because of deep knowledge about it but because they live in a culture that rejects it.
Thus when leaders of the RH movement claim that they are against abortion, I believe them. They, including those who are not Catholic or who have no religion, are part of this culture. However, perhaps without their realizing it, the RH movement is undermining the cultural fortification needed to keep abortion outside our borders. Even today, American abortion advocacies are seeking the legalization of abortion in the Philippines. We can be certain that this attempt is not the last. There will be constant pressure, both from specific advocacies and Western pro-choice culture, that must be resisted.
There is nothing that we are doing that nations that have eventually legalized abortion did not do: sexual liberation, contraception, and a disdain for moral authority. The open contempt for the Catholic Church is particularly worrying because our anti-abortion culture is largely because of Catholicism. Without Catholicism, the last cultural bulwark against abortion will be our love for our constitution which makes abortion impossible in the Philippines. However, the constitution did not fall from the sky. It is a document made and agreed upon by a people. If the people so desire to change it, it will be changed.
Contraception is the curtailment of a natural process. Abortion is also the curtailment of a natural process. Many of the same arguments for contraception can be rehearsed for abortion: the right to choose, the right to health, the right to a quality life free from the financial burden of an unwanted child. Certainly, abortion is more odious since it is murder and a pro-choice strategy against this charge is to subordinate the moral obligations imposed on us by our bodies, by the natural law, to the owner’s right to choose.
Contraception is also the subordination of the natural law to our right to choose. Once we have taught our children that they may rule over the natural processes of their bodies with artificial means, so that they work against their bodies instead of with it, then we have laid the cornerstone upon which abortion may be built up. Barring abortifiacients, contraception is not abortion. Let me emphasize that. However, they breath the same air. Contraception is the training wheels for abortion. We are making baby steps toward it. When the time comes, the debate for abortion will be easier because all we need to do is hop on the global train.
A woman who has been raised on and educated about safe sex and contraception will believe that natural processes can be curtailed and should be curtailed. She is the owner of her womb, so when faced with a pregnancy she does not desire – whether for poverty or inconvenience – she will be facing this contradiction: Her culture and education have taught her that she may for good reasons act against her body yet, now that she is pregnant, this culture in a sudden reverse is now demanding that she respect natural processes and carry her baby to term. This contradictory culture cannot last long. Eventually, as it erodes its own anti-abortion bases, it will resolve this contradiction by allowing the full curtailment of our reproductive nature.
But it may be asked: Does not section 16 of the RH Bill require sex education that includes the proscription of and dangers of abortion? Furthermore, doesn’t Catholicism stupidly ask us, as some columnists charge, to multiply like rabbits?