POSTSCRIPT / May 15, 2011 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Key RH issue: When does human life begin?

WHAT TO DO: Judging from the ferocity of the debate raging over the Reproductive Health bills (plural), it is becoming clearer that the more prudent steps to take are:

1. For President Noynoy Aquino to prevent the deeper division of the country by not openly endorsing the RH measures and to just leave lawmaking to the legislature.

2. For the Congress to call back the bills for closer study, clarify the vague provisions, and amend the more contentious parts. There is no urgency to rush the measures before the arrival of the Three Kings.

3. For the Congress to publish the text of the RH bills. Many of those drawn into the debate have not even read the text of SB 2378 and HB 4244.

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INQUIRY SOUGHT: The Senate should heed a citizens’ petition for it to look deeper into SB 2378 (The Reproductive Health Act) and HB 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011).

Citizens Ma. Andrea S. Mandigo, Eric B. Manalang and Norman V. Cabrera have asked for an inquiry on (1) the abortifacient action of family planning methods and contraceptives, and (2) the side effects on women who use them.

The Petitioners cited discussions of the 1987 Constitutional Commission describing the moment of “conception” as synonymous to fertilization – when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm.

Among the questions in the current debate is whether human life begins at fertilization (conception), or implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb, or some days/weeks after implantation.

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WHEN LIFE BEGINS: The Constitution (Section 12, Article II) says: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

The discussion in the 1987 Constitutional Commission indicates a consensus that conception is synonymous to fertilization, and is therefore the moment “when human life begins.”

Still, it will be best for the RH law to define that moment as clearly as possible. There should not be any dark area in or around this pivotal point.

If human life begins upon conception or fertilization, the killing of the unborn human being, such as by preventing its implantation in the womb, is legally and morally wrong.

More so if the unborn child already developing in the womb is destroyed deliberately, as in abortion.

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SIDE EFFECTS: Against this background and other medical facts, the artificial methods of “contraception” sought to be promoted under RH 4244 bill using taxpayers’ money are put in question.

The petitioners presented documented medical findings of serious side effects associated with the use of certain contraceptives, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, hardening of the arteries, heart disease/stroke, among other problems.

The Department of Health should have data on this. It cannot feign ignorance of the negative side effects. And if it is aware of them, how can it justify its endorsement of artificial contraceptives?

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ABORTIFACIENT: Many readers, some of them doctors, most of them women (some of whom admitted having used some of the contraceptives being promoted), said:

* Most, if not all, oral and injectable contraceptives are abortifacient (inducing abortion) or have abortifacient properties. During the times when they do not prevent ovulation, their abortifacient properties take effect.

* Oral and injectable contraceptives thin out the inner lining of the uterus. This makes the uterus unable to support a fertilized egg — who is already a human being enjoying protection under the Constitution.

The fertilized egg is prevented from implanting on the interior lining of the uterus, and is therefore killed through lack of nutrition. This is abortion, which is a crime.

Even “Depo Provera” or other similar substances, which are injected every three months, have the same abortifacient properties.

* There are also many pills, such as mifepristone (also known as RU 486), which are outright abortifacient. They do not even try to prevent conception. They can kill even a two-month-old child in the womb.

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EASY, LAZY PATH: These pills with abortifacient effects are widely distributed by the government!

The RH bills being supported by President Aquino SEEK TO GIVE LEGAL BASIS for this mass killing of unborn Filipinos.

It seems the President is taking this easy and lazy – not necessarily straight (tuwid) — path, because his administration is unable to do its job of upgrading food production, education, public health and livelihood.

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LUCENA MAYORSHIP: Hearing colleague Neal Cruz say that if one loses an election at the polls, he can still win it at the Commission on Elections, I looked at the Lucena City mayoralty case he was citing and gathered that:

Three-term Mayor Ramon Talaga filed his certificate of candidacy for the May 2010 election believing that he was still eligible since his term was interrupted by suspensions arising from cases filed against him. The Comelec disqualified him, so his wife, Barbara, replaced him as candidate. She won.

The loser, Philip Castillo, protested, insisting that the ‘Talaga’ votes were for Ramon and not Barbara even as the substitution was given due course by the Comelec. Another petition was filed by elected Vice Mayor Roderick Alcala to declare the post of mayor vacant and for him to be installed as the chief executive.

When the poll body’s Second Division dismissed both petitions, the petitioners went to the Comelec en banc. A ruling is now going the rounds for signature declaring the ‘Talaga’ votes invalid and declaring the mayor’s position vacant — thus installing Alcala as mayor.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 15, 2011)

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