POSTSCRIPT / December 16, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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A Conscience Vote, not a Catholic Vote

CONSCIENCE: What could defeat the so-called Reproductive Health bill on third reading in the House tomorrow is not a non-existent Catholic Vote, but the Conscience Vote.

Actually, the measure is more of a Death than a Health bill that President Noynoy Aquino has certified as urgent to speed up the lawmaking process.

There is already an indication that conscience is catching up on the congressmen being herded by Malacañang and motivated by a well-funded lobby to force the approval of House Bill No. 4244.

From an overwhelming Yes on its first reading, the bill passed on second reading last Thursday with a close vote of 113-104. It will not be surprising if the No conscience votes soon overwhelm the House.

Well and good, if. Anyway, even without an RH law, our fertility and population growth rates have settled down to manageable levels, according to Philippine and United Nations statistics.

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MURDER: My objection to the RH bill, poorly disguised as a health bill, is not out of religious considerations. I am not a religious man. I seldom go to Mass, although I do pray a lot for other people.

I have seen just too many of my dear friends who have developed cancer, some of them succumbing to it after a painful and costly struggle, because of their taking the pill.

My conscience tells me that for the government to misrepresent abortion (the premeditated snuffing out of a tender human life) as a basic right is utterly wrong. Murder is a choice all right, but it is not a right!

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CARCINOGENIC: Nobody can hoodwink me into believing that birth control pills are safe. They are not, whatever the merchants of death say.

It could even happen that a few of the women taking the pill and pushing for the RH bill have started to detect their own early signs of breast cancer. Let us pray for them.

The tragic fate of some of my pill-popping friends may be anecdotal, but a 2005 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, conducted by 21 scientists from eight countries, had concluded that “combined estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives and combined estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy are carcinogenic to humans.”

The same IARC study mentions also that “use of oral contraceptives increases risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer.” (In some cases that I know, the problem first manifested itself in small nodules in the breasts that developed into cancer and spread.)

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PILLS NOT FREE: Maybe some women taking the pill have been spared, but that does not mean zero risk.

Taking that risk is a personal choice that should not be encouraged and funded by the government in contravention of its duty to protect lives and safeguard public health.

The National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health, Maryland, says there is an increased risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer, while the National Health Services, UK, admits there is increased risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer, although these are small.

While institutions like NCI and NHS tend to downplay the carcinogenic risks of contraceptives, the fact that these have been acknowledged as Group 1 carcinogens should give pause to any responsible government that intends to give them away “for free.” (Actually taxpayers, including those against abortion, will foot the bill.)

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ONLINE SALE: It has been shown also that pills increase the risk of stroke, myocardial infraction (heart attack), thrombosis and diabetes.

Yet, a review of the drug catalogue in the Philippines shows that preparations with second-generation and third-generation progestogens are being sold in the Philippines.

At least one Filipino buy-and-sell website, sulit.com.ph, has a dealer that sells Yasmin, a third- generation oral contraceptive pill (OCP), for local consumption. Pills and the intra-uterine device (IUD) kill the human embryo.

Yasmin is candidly described as an OCP that prevents ovulation and causes changes in the cervical and uterine lining, making it harder for the sperm to reach the uterus, and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

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IT’S URGENT?: Starving to death the fertilized egg with OCPs is abortion. And the government wants to condone, encourage and fund it through an RH law!

That is dangerous. The “Handbook of Truths Behind the RH BilI” written by noted demographers, economists and educators had this to say:

“If an act is made legal, it will be perceived as moral, it will become a norm. If it is observed by all as a norm, then it is too late. By then, the nation’s soul will have been ruined. For the government, that is not mere recklessness. That is breach of public trust.”

Yet President Aquino certified the RH bill as urgent. Why is he in a hurry, like the mad gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, to kill helpless beings?

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RIGHT TO LIFE: RH bill proponents point to the swarms of street urchins in depressed areas, seeing them as a curse. They tell us the poor innocent kids had no right to be born as they put pressure on the nation’s resources.

Inept and lazy government officials fall for this line. Instead of attending to the education and well-being of these children, they move to simplify the problem by preventing more of them from coming into this world.

None of the sponsors want to say how much their reproductive death bill will cost. An amount being mentioned is P3 billion, principally to buy pills for 366,300 women (most of whom can buy them on their own) and condoms.

Why not use those billions to build 19,892 classrooms for 895,140 students, pay salaries of 12,500 teachers for five years, put up 107,142 dwellings for 535,710 Filipinos, pay wages for five years of 12,500 skilled birth attendants credited by the health department for helping reduce maternal deaths?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 16, 2012)

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