Friday, August 26, 2011

Debate over conception settled decades ago, lawmakers told

MANILA, August 27, 2011–Now the cat is out of the bag.
Pro-RH senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor Santiago have finally admitted their position on the crucial issue of conception or “when life begins,” a stance that a pro-life group said has “no constitutional and scientific basis.”
The group Filipinos For Life (F4L), in a press release, noted Cayetano and Santiago’s refusal to acknowledge that life begins at fertilization in the Senate debates over the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
“The matter of when life begins is important as oral contraceptive pills, aside from being carcinogenic, have a mechanism that prevents a fertilized ovum from implanting onto the uterine wall. Medical experts have long concluded that ‘breakthrough ovulation’ can occur while a woman is on the pill, which leaves room for fertilization,” F4L said.
F4L pointed out that the debate had been settled way back in 1986 – when the Constitutional Commission voted 32-8 on the definition of conception, which is at fertilization, or the point at which sperm and egg meet.
During the ConCom deliberations, it was asked: “When is the moment of conception?” Commissioner Bernardo Villegas replied: “…it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life.”
It should be recalled, F4L said, that the definition of conception was changed by American obstetricians and gynecologists in the 1960s to justify the use of the contraceptive pill. This erroneous definition is also suited to justify unethical practices such as in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research, F4L noted.
Abraham Daniel Campo Cruz, M.D., Pharmacology instructor at Far Eastern University, said the confusion over the term “conception” and whether it refers to fertilization or implantation is “not a result of lack of scientific data but of verbal engineering.”
“The implications of redefining conception are seen in the mechanisms of action of contraceptive pills and IUDs (intrauterine devices) and whether they act as abortifacients,” he added.
The physician said that “From the pharmacologic standpoint, hormonal contraceptives (pills and injectables) have multiple mechanisms of action.”
Cruz said it must be emphasized that pregnancy is the state of the mother, not of the unborn.
“Therefore, non-implantation does not negate the status of the fertilized ovum/zygote/embryo as a living human being.”
“The key feature of a human pattern is its organization towards the production of a mature human body. Basic embryology teaches us that the instant of fertilization (the union of the ovum and sperm) is time zero of human development,” he explained further.
“Fertilization results in the formation of a new cell that is distinct from the cells that give rise to it, because the fertilized ovum/zygote/embryo, as a stage in human development, possesses the material composition (genetic and molecular) and behavior (developmental pathway) necessary for its maturity.”
“It is therefore only logical that, if we subscribe to the scientific fact that human development begins at fertilization, the prevention of implantation terminates life. While it may be argued that the prevention of implantation is not the primary mechanism of action of these drugs and devices, fertilization can occur, as evidenced by breakthrough ovulations and contraceptive failures. A contraceptive failure is a human being. Thus, the secondary mechanism of preventing implantation constitutes the abortifacient effect of hormonal contraceptives and IUDs,” Cruz said.
“When science finds a plausible risk, social responsibility must compel us to protect the public from exposure to harm,” he asserted.
F4L said it was unfortunate that RH sponsors are relying on information from foreign and local lobbyists, some of whom are open advocates of abortion.
“Cayetano and Santiago should do their own research and not swallow the RH lobby’s talking points hook, line, and sinker,” the group said.
“For RH proponents to hold that a fertilized egg can be dispensable to convince Filipino women to take taxpayer-funded chemical pills is contrary to the Philippine Constitution. Anything that frustrates life from fertilization until birth is abortive,” F4L stated.
“If RH backers want informed consent, conscientious Filipinos should be informed of the abortive effects of contraceptives such as the pill and even the IUD,” it added. (CBCP for Life)

Santiago resorts to ‘cheap shots’ in attack vs. Church

MANILA, August 27, 2011―As the Senate began tackling the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, top RH proponent Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago herself was not above making what she had described as “cheap shots.”
In an apparent attempt to undermine Church authority on the moral aspects of family and life, Santiago – a self-proclaimed theologian who studied at an ultra-liberal theology school in Quezon City – resurrected old charges long refuted by Catholic apologetics.
Taking the road already traveled by vicious anti-Catholic groups, Santiago lectured the Church hierarchy to learn the “lesson from the Catholic past” in her sponsorship speech on the RH bill, and proceeded to dig up old hats like those involving the astronomers Copernicus and Galileo.
Ignoring history herself, however, Santiago merely said Copernicus was “denounced” for proposing a “new cosmology,” without noting that Pope Clement VII himself and other ecclesiastics encouraged Copernicus on his heliocentric theory. In fact, Copernicus’ book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was dedicated to Pope Paul III.
Moreover, Copernicus’ associates were fearful of backlash from Protestant theologians, who had adopted Martin Luther’s vehement objection to heliocentrism.
Galileo, meanwhile, was never tortured, as writers and historians have long argued. He was tried not because of his belief on heliocentricism but because he had encroached on biblical interpretation and theology.
Galileo, who was buried at a Franciscan basilica in Florence, Italy, was also wrong as he believed the sun was the center of the whole universe.
Pro-life advocates were quick to point out Santiago’s flawed theology and RH stance, now ironically supported by Protestant pastors.
“Miriam classifies theology as either traditional or progressive. That labeling is political. In theology as elsewhere, the errors are many, the truth is but one. Theology is either good or bad; sound or unsound,” said former senator Francisco Tatad.
Addressing Santiago’s criticism of the 1968 landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI which prohibited artificial contraception, Tatad said “Humanae Vitae did not initiate a new teaching.”
“It merely reiterated an old one with greater clarity and depth. In his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI already condemned contraception as a violation of natural law. Long before that, some Fathers and Doctors of the Church had taught that certain acts preventing procreation are gravely sinful. Among them, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Alphonsus Liguori,” he said.
Tatad also corrected his former colleague on conscience, saying true conscience should not run in conflict with the Church.
“Miriam is right: conscience. But with some qualification. First of all, conscience must be properly formed in the truth; it must be a certain conscience, not an erroneous one. Conscience cannot have its own individual truth, otherwise there will be a riot of consciences, and no one will know what the real truth is,” he said. (Dominic Francisco)

Bill co-sponsor admits RH is a population control measure

MANILA, August 26, 2011―The plenary debates at the House of Representatives on August 24 was an unexpected demonstration in unparliamentary behavior by a neophyte solon, but outshining the condescension exemplified was the equally unexpected admission that House Bill 4244, or the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, targets population control.
Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco, co-sponsor of the bill, at times responded with arrogance to Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay’ interpellation, over points in which she apparently was not well-versed but swiftly making an admission that surprised even her co-RH proponents.
“Is [the RH bill] a population measure?” Magsaysay asked.
“Of course,” Cojuangco asserted.
“Of course? It’s a population measure? To curb poverty, do you need to curb population? In your eyes?” Magsaysay further asked.
“Definitely,” came the sure reply.
“In other words, you are contradicting the position of all your other co-sponsors there who said that this is not a population measure, that this is not a poverty alleviation measure.”
The Pangasinan congresswoman paused for a few seconds before saying, “Well, it’s not a population… ay, it is a population measure but it’s not population control.”
After a few more moments of silence in the hall, Cojuangco insisted, “It’s a population measure but it’s not population control.”
Misunderstanding the IRR
Prior to the population control measure admission was a lengthy discussion on the Magna Carta of Women (MCW), which Magsaysay repeatedly pointed out was an existing law that already addresses the concerns Cojuangco mentioned as reasons why an RH law in her opinion was necessary, such as the need for more birthing facilities, maternal health services, to name a few.
To the Pangasinan solon’s insistence that the MCW’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) did not carry the weight of the law and were mere guidelines, Magsaysay explained, “When we have a law in the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and there is the IRR on how to implement the law, the IRR is the one being used by the BIR to implement the law that we passed through Congress. So you cannot say that an IRR cannot be implemented, because it is in fact a law.”
Magsaysay then mentioned other departments such as the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Health (DOH) tasked with law implementation and how the IRR for each law determines how this is to be done.
“So I beg to disagree with the Madame Sponsor when she said that the IRR is not a law and that the IRR does not carry the weight of the law.”
Magsaysay continued to enumerate the agencies tasked with implementing the MCW, which is specified in the law’s IRR. According to her, the National Commission on Women (NCW) takes charge of overseeing the proper implementation of the Magna Carta’s provisions by the different agencies–the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Education (DepEd), Commisision on Higher Education (CHEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
“Now if there are no funds being allocated by the national government through the budget of the Department of Health, then you can question the national government for not providing these things in the budget, “she added.
Apparently, Magsaysay’s pointing out the government’s failure to implement the law signed in 2009 upset Cojuangco, resulting in a manner uncharacteristic of legislators in plenary discussions.
“You’re saying that the national government failed. And as a member of the 14th and 12th Congress, where were you? Where were you when the budget allocation was being talked about with regard to the Magna Carta? What happened? Why was nothing asked? Why did you not raise your hand and say we need an allocation for this?” Cojuangco asserted.
After repeating the necessity of a reproductive health law and insisting that the Magna Carta IRR was useless, she got a quiet response from the Zambales lawmaker.
“Madame Sponsor, I would just like to inform you, in case you don’t know, that the lady behind you seated at the table was a member of the group that crafted the IRR of the Magna Carta of Women. How can you say now that nobody… why don’t you ask her?”
Magsaysay was referring to Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), a prominent RH supporter.
The need to implement the Magna Carta of Women
After several more exchanges that tackled the MCW’s provisions on maternal and child health, and the redundancy of the RH bill due to the MCW, the Pangasinan solon again allowed the obvious difference in perspectives and her probable dissatisfaction over the law’s non-implementation to get the better of her.
“Maybe we can agree, do you agree with me? Something is wrong because nothing has happened. Am I not right? Nothing has happened. Tell me, has anything happened?” she said in clipped tones.
“All the beautiful things you talked about, just answer me ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Has anything happened?”
“That’s precisely my point…”
“Exactly! Has anything happened?”
A new law is what is needed, Cojuangco stressed, to which Magsaysay replied, “We can make laws here, we can even pass that RH bill if you want to. But that does not ensure that the national government will provide you with what is necessary to implement it. Why don’t you compel the government to provide what is necessary to ensure maternal health care as mandated by the Magna Carta of Women?”
“There is an existing law, so compel the national government to provide the funds to ensure that there are birthing facilities in all rural [clinics], that these are equipped with medicines and vitamins as far as pregnant women are concerned, that they also have doctors, nurses and midwives in rural clinics, and that they can also provide free medical services in case the mother has no money to deliver her baby safely,” Magsaysay added.
“You do not need to pass your RH bill to ensure that there are doctors, nurses and midwives because [these are] already provided by law,” she continued.
“All we have to do is to compel the present government to provide proper maternal health care to all the mothers, to provide the proper neonatal care to all the mothers and babies, to provide the proper gynecological care to all women… just to make sure that the mothers do not die, that children do not die. But we don’t need to pass the RH bill; we need to compel the national government to implement the provisions of the MCW,” Magsaysay said.
Plenary sessions at the House of Representatives continue on September 5. (Diana Uichanco)


Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".

Should the Philippine government legalize same-sex marriage?