Archive | August, 2012

September 1, 2012 (Saturday) Kuppa Cafe, Bonifacio Global City Meetup

Location: Kuppa Roastery and Cafe, Commerce Center, 4th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City (Google map)
Date: Saturday, September 1, 2012
Time: 2:00pm – 6:00pm

RSVP on Facebook

Discussion Topics
* Ebay bans bunk
* Atheism+
* Is OPM Dead?
* Political Sex Strikes

Commuting directions:
Take a bus or MRT to Ayala avenue MRT station, walk to the Fort bus terminal on the north bound side of EDSA. Take the Fort bus on the west route to the Net Cube bus stop and walk in the direction of the HSBC building to the Commerce Center building.

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.

Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0927 323 3532

* Newbies are welcome.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.
* Please abide by the code of conduct.

Photograph by Patrick Charles Rigonan

Posted in Meetup0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Bacolod Meetup – Friday, September 7

Location: Bascon Cafe, Lacson
Date: Friday, September 7, 2012
Time: 5:00pm – 9:00pm

RSVP on our Facebook event

 

Discussion Topics
* Should we have a second Port within Bacolod in Banago?
* Negros Aristocracy – political dynasties
* The State of Secularism in Bacolod – Where are the Bacolodnons in the picture?

Contact form to keep in touch.

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.

Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0922 870 1760. Or send us a message of facebook.

* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* Newbies are welcome.
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.
* Please abide by the code of conduct.

Posted in Bacolod, Meetup0 Comments

“Your Mother Should Have Used RH,” Says BUHAY Spokesperson

I recorded this video interview with Frank when I got home from COMELEC before writing this post. Some details might be inaccurate, which I hope this post corrects. Toward the end of the video is footage of the BUHAY spokesperson saying the titular statement.

“Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010. I’m of course referring to members of Prolife Philippines wishing out loud that we hadn’t been born as we were leaving Manila Cathedral. We were there to listen to a discernment mass on the RH Bill, but weren’t allowed to attend because of the DAMASO shirts we were wearing. Aside from wishing we weren’t alive, a public exorcism on us was also attempted by Eric Manalang, president of Prolife Philippines.

Now it’s 2012, and the Prolife greeting has been updated. It now goes, “Your mother should have used RH.” We learned this yesterday when we expressed our opposition to BUHAY’s party-list accreditation at their COMELEC review hearing. After witnessing the most absurd justification for applying to be a party-list, we had an exchange of words with BUHAY that reflects a lot of what happened in the Manila Cathedral incident of 2010.

It began with a question. The BUHAY spokesperson who had represented them during the hearing approached us and asked, “Are you pro-RH?” “Yes,” answers Kenneth Keng, who had earlier expressed at the hearing our intention to oppose BUHAY’s accreditation. “Then your mother should have used RH. So you wouldn’t be here today.”

At this point, I was approached by another BUHAY member. “Did you go to school?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Then why aren’t you using your education,” he said. He probably meant that my pro-RH position betrayed a lack of education.

I was about to explain how education actually leads to being pro-RH when I saw Ken being approached by several BUHAY members. They were trying to grab his camera away from him. I walked over and learned what was happening. The BUHAY spokesperson complained that Ken had started recording without his permission.

They had also asked whether Ken was with the media. Ken had initially said yes out of fear and confusion; their demeanor had given him the impression that they might harm him. He later clarified that he wasn’t with the media and was just a regular blogger, something that I’d clarified earlier with the BUHAY member I’d been speaking to.

At this point we were all huddled between the elevators and the COMELEC reception, where several security personnel were watching. The BUHAY member I’d been speaking to, the one who asked whether I was educated, started talking. He said that if we weren’t with the media, he doesn’t have to treat us that way, and can just treat us like kanto boys. He repeated this, removing his coat as if preparing for a fight. He told us that he would meet us at our levels as kanto boys and invited us outside.

I clarified: “Just to be clear, are you inviting us to a fist fight outside?” He replied, “Anywhere.” I was actually surprised that he was behaving like this in front of COMELEC security. When they finally got on the elevator, we decided it was probably wise that we stayed. Some members of the COMELEC security thought so, too. They advised us to stay for a bit because the BUHAY members might be waiting for us downstairs with less than good intentions.

Surely enough, they were waiting. As I was exiting the building, the BUHAY spokesperson blocked my path, holding a cameraphone to my face. “Excuse me, I need to get out,” I said. He stands aside after a few moments, keeping the cameraphone on me. He asked me for my name and organization, and I give it to him. At this point, Ken also has his cameraphone out, and we were recording each other (another member had a proper camcorder, too).

With all the cameras turned on I wished that Ken’s was on when the BUHAY spokesperson wished Ken’s mother had used RH. Luckily, he repeated his wish, and we got it on video. At first he said that he didn’t mean anything bad when he said this. After all, he says, isn’t RH a good thing? To this we agree, and I further explain that my parents used RH: after all, it includes family planning, birth spacing, etc.

Then he says that my parents used failed RH, because after all, I am here. By doing so he betrays the malice in his wish. To him failed RH means we are born, and successful RH means we aren’t, and it’s pretty clear which of the two outcomes he’d been wishing for us.

We explain that RH isn’t abortion, which is what he keeps on implying, but he disagrees. He advises us to read the Cairo conference. I explain that the RH Bill and the Cairo Conference are two different things. At this point Atty. Macalintal, who had been mostly quiet this time, left in a car with the BUHAY member who had challenged us to a fist fight.

We also headed for our car, leaving the BUHAY spokesperson alone, waiting for his. As we were leaving, I saw the Manila Cathedral and thought about how similar the event from 2010 was: the wishing we hadn’t been born, the prolifer’s fear of being caught on video, the trying to forcefully take our cameras. I sort of expected the BUHAY spokesperson to shout “Your mothers should have aborted you!” as we were leaving. But then I corrected myself: “Your mothers should have used RH.” Because “Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Secularism6 Comments

The Unborn Representatives: How BUHAY Makes a Mockery of the Party-List System

Note: Please also read how BUHAY responded to our opposition of their party-list accreditation in COMELEC.

The party-list system of representation is broken. Want proof? Consider the case of BUHAY party-list.

According to COMELEC, you have to be a member of the sector you claim to represent. BUHAY claims to represent “the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone, through observance of their basic right to live.” Never mind being sick and disabled and incapable of self-protection (all at the same time!). Is even a single BUHAY representative unborn?

Even if we grant for rhetorical purposes that every BUHAY representative is unborn, they would still be disqualified for one simple reason: the unborn is not a sector recognized by COMELEC. This fact was repeated several times at BUHAY’s accreditation hearing at COMELEC yesterday.

And every time the COMELEC official mentioned this, the BUHAY spokesperson would answer the same way: BUHAY representatives actually represent its own political party, which is the one marginalized and underrepresented.

Setting aside how self-serving this reasoning is, does BUHAY actually think that a political party should be considered a sector of society? Let’s humor them a little and pretend that it is. Why is BUHAY party marginalized?

According to their spokesperson, it’s because aside from their party-list seats, they haven’t won any major political positions (senator, president, etc.) in the past elections, so they aren’t a major political party. And according to BUHAY, that means they are marginalized. Poor BUHAY. Since 2004, they’ve only won 7 seats in the House of Representatives.

That’s right. Seven seats in almost as many years have been allotted to the unborn representatives of BUHAY party, each representing the unborn citizens of the Philippines, and of course, that other marginalized and underrepresented sector, the BUHAY party itself. If that can’t convince you that the party-list system is a joke, I don’t know what can.

But there’s hope. COMELEC has been reviewing the current party-list candidates, and from the way they’ve been conducting these accreditation hearings — I’ve witnessed a few — they seem to mean business. I just hope it translates to disqualification, especially in the case of BUHAY and Ang Prolife — another conservative Catholic religious group trying to disguise itself as a political organization.

When we opposed Ang Prolife’s application, I thought nothing could ever beat the absurdity of their claiming to represent OFWs and “the structure of the Filipino family.” Well played, BUHAY party. Well played.

___
Note: This post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive opposition to BUHAY’s application. We’ll leave that to our formal opposition, which we were given 3 days to file, and will post as soon as it’s available. For now, check out Kontradaya’s reasons for objecting to the accreditation of BUHAY (follow the link for other party-list groups they argue should also be disqualified):

Buhay claims to represent the following sectors: the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone, through observance of their basic right to live.

However, none of its present representatives in Congress, and nominees for 2013 elections belong to these sectors.

First representative Mariano Velarde, Jr., the son of El Shaddai’s Mike Velarde, has a personal net worth of P53.326 million for 2011. He does not belong to any of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors Buhay claims to represent. He is not unborn, sick, disabled, nor incapable of protecting himself.

So is second representative Irwin Tieng, whose net worth amounts to P20.054 and whose family owns Solar Sports. He does not belong to any of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors Buhay claims to represent. He is not unborn, sick, disabled, nor incapable of protecting himself.

Second nominee for the 2013 elections is Jose L. Atienza, more famously known as Manila Mayor Lito Atienza. Mayor Atienza served as Manila Mayor from 1998 to 2007. Previous to that, he served as Manila Vice Mayor from 1992 to 1998. He also held other high positions in government, being appointed by former President Gloria Arroyo as the Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Clearly Mayor Atienza can compete for a position in Congress through regular elections. This is in addition to the fact that he does not belong to any of the sectors that Buhay claims to represent, and neither is he marginalized and underrepresented.

Posted in Politics, Secularism2 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers-University of the Philippines Los Baños Forum

What: An Introduction to Freethinking
Where: NCAS Auditorium, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna
When: September 4 (Tuesday), 1 – 4 PM


Against all odds, Filipino Freethinkers-University of the Philippines Los Baños (FF-UPLB) has been recognized by the Office of Student Affairs-Student Organizations and Activities Division for this year!

The only organization in campus catering to atheists, agnostics, deists and progressive theists, FF-UPLB’s founding has set the grounds for the promotion of science, reason and secularism within the community, aside from being a safe haven for heathen students and teachers.

FF-UPLB is holding its first event: An Introduction to Freethinking. We’ll be discussing three topics:

  • Science and Freethinking, where we will be differentiating science from pseudoscience, and stressing the need for evidence-based  logical inquiry on discussions and decision making;
  • Secularism and Freethinking, where Filipino Freethinkers President Red Tani will discuss what secularism is, and why is it an indispensable element of governance; and
  • Non-Belief and Freethinking, where Filipino Freethinkers Affiliations Director Garrick Bercero will be relating his own experiences and journey to disbelief, while giving light on the general misconceptions about non-believers and atheism.

The event is free of charge, and everyone is welcome to attend. There is no required political ideology, philosophy, religion or IQ level.

The event is on September 4 (Tuesday), and runs from 1 – 4 PM. The Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society, BUKLOD UPLB, Movement of Students for Progressive Leadership in UP, and UP Socius are our very generous sponsors.

We’ll be glad to have you there.

RSVP on Facebook.

Posted in Meetup, UP Los Baños1 Comment

Sotto: To Pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill, Discriminate LGBT First

Update: Sotto has since denied that he is against LGBT provisions in the anti discrimination bill. The point still stands, other senators who are against these provisions are calling for discrimination to pass the bil.

Manila Bulletin reports that certain senators are opposing the Anti-Racial, Ethnic and Anti-Religious Discrimination Act of 2011 (the Anti-Discrimination bill) because they want the provisions concerning the LGBT struck down. Among these senators is our favorite bigote’d senator, the Honorable Vincente Sotto III.

“Kaya pala nadedelay sa Senate na mag-agree sa bicameral ay pinapa-negotiate ng some Senators na alisin ang provisions ng LGBTs. (The reason why the Senate failed to agree in the bicameral is that some senators wanted to exclude the LGBT provisions),” [one of the authors of the bill, Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr.] claimed.

“So baka mag-agree na ganito na lang para maipasa. What I know is that one of those opposing is Senator (Vicente) Sotto,” he claimed. Sotto was reportedly pushing for the adoption of the House version, which does not include the LGBT provisions.

What kind of legislators are the Filipino people getting when the first step these senators take to passing an anti-discrimination law is to discriminate? To make it even more disgusting, it’s a good bet that some of these senators are pushing to remove the LGBT provisions from the bill for religious reasons. An incredibly hypocritical move considering that the anti discrimination bill has provisions against religious discrimination. To these senators it’s bad to discriminate against religion but discriminating because of religion? That’s kosher!

Even if the senator’s reasons for removing the provisions aren’t religious, any reason at all for the removal of LGBT provisions would be disingenuous to the spirit of the bill. They are trying to pass a law against discrimination that would, if the LGBT provisions are excised, be discriminatory in the first place.

The legislators who authored the anti-discrimination bill have done good work writing the bill in the first place. Now they need to ensure that their good work will not be brought down by the politicking of bigots and bishops.

Image from Show Patikim

Posted in Gender Rights, Politics, Society9 Comments

An Atenean’s Reflections on the CBCP and the Catholic Church

I remember our discussion on Berdyaev in class. Nikolai Berdyaev wrote the book “The Destiny of Man,” wherein he discussed about the sin of the Pharisees. Berdyaev explained that the sin of the Pharisees was their legalistic religion. The Pharisees are concerned more about the “legal technicalities” of their religion rather than the true meaning of its teachings. I quote from a letter written by Berdyaev in reply to V. Lossk:

“But to put the Sabbath higher than man is a betrayal of the commands of Christ. Christians have often become suchlike betrayers. Everyone for whom an ortodoks teaching stands higher than man and his human fate betrays the Gospel commands. The legalism within Christianity is a distortion of Christianity, a victory of non-Christian principles. There is nothing higher than the humanness, which likewise is the Divine, the testimony of the God of love and sacrifice.”

I cannot help but see that the same is happening in present-time Philippines. Our church leaders are too obsessed with the legalistic aspects of their religion that they fail to see the true face of their faith. They are committing the very same crimes Christ condemned. In a way, the CBCP is our present-day Pharisees. They would place their “rule of law” above humanness and risk the suffering and death of many people. And they would do so clinging to their “authority,” fueled by their “lust for power”.

But why should “authority” be such a heavy crime? After all, without a central figure or institution of authority, society would simply be a mess. But an adherence to order and community is different from obeying authority. Authority is built on fear, violence and dictatorship, while harmony is built on trust, communal understanding, and cooperation. Following rules because you fear the consequences is different from following rules because you believe in, respect, and understand the spirit of the law.

Authority begets blind conformity, hypocrisy, and false allegiance. And we can only liberate ourselves from this sin through questioning. Questioning, not in the sense of attacking, destroying or throwing away our values, but as an affirmation of our values, to evaluate and reevaluate our principles so that we avoid inflicting harm on others as well as on ourselves. We question to break away from blind conformity, and to unlock the possibilities, to transcend our current situatedness.

I champion the kind of hope built on a basic, intrinsic human quality, and as a Catholic would say, “God’s design”: the ability of human questioning, to liberate us from the chains of blind faith, to bring about change and improvements to our lives, to seek new and better ways of doing things, to open ourselves to “God’s Grace,” to unlock possibilities and accept truths may they be palatable or not, to evaluate and reevaluate our values so that they may be strengthened.

Quoting from my previous essay: “I wish to espouse hope, the kind that is found in human inquiry, learning and our ability to solve problems—the kind that speaks the human language and promotes understanding and connection. My only aspiration is to be proven wrong time and time again so that new and liberating paradigms may triumph over old and oppressive ones. And hopefully through our sincere discernment, may we find true salvation.”

The Catholic Church that I once hated but have grown fond of was one that stood for freedom. The Catholic Church that the Jesuits introduced me to is one built on questioning, on sound discernment, on possibilities, on hope. The Catholic Church I know is a community that I respect, love, and one I will staunchly defend to my death, despite being an atheist.

Based on the CBCP’s attitude and behavior so far, theirs is a Catholic Church I do not know.

But despite my frustrations, anger and disappointment, I still have hope. And hope is found when you learn to trust. Trust in the human desire and ability to question. Trust in our collective wisdom, in our ability to learn from our past mistakes, and our ability to move forward. Aspire to be “proven wrong time and time again so that new and liberating paradigms may triumph over old and oppressive ones.” It is alright to be wrong.

In letting go of our ego, of our authority, of our need to be right—in emptying our cups, we invite greater things into us. And as we continue to discern, to question, to invoke change, we open ourselves to a greater future, a future that a Catholic would say “we created, through our own actions, inspired by His Grace” and may “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.”

I invite you to read some of the works I mentioned/used in the discussion above

The Philosophical Enterprise by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J

The Destiny of Man by Nikolai Berdyaev

http://www.berdyaev.com/berdiaev/berd_lib/1936_409.html

Image from lossofsoul.com

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Religion6 Comments

How Senator Tito Sotto Misused Barbara Seaman’s Book

Senator Tito Sotto: Dishonest, Deceptive, and Intellectually Lazy (Part 2)

In Part 1, we have learned how the theme of The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth1, as well as Barbara Seaman’s political position, cannot be deemed as supportive of Sotto’s claim. Here, we will examine how exactly Sotto used the book to support his claims, and see whether he is right in doing so.

Sotto said that “The Greatest Experiment… stated that those who take pills but still got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower I.Q.” In order for us to believe him, we should verify whether or not this was really stated in Seaman’s book; and if yes, determine whether Sotto used it in the right context.

It wasn’t easy to find this supposed statement because Sotto, or whoever wrote his speech, didn’t offer the exact quotation. It was a summary of some sorts. (Perhaps next time, speech writers should learn how to footnote references: it’s good practice, it’s part of their job, and it wouldn’t take so much of their time.)

In order for us to verify the truthfulness behind Sotto’s words, we have to dissect his statement into three parts, and see whether we can find textual support from The Greatest Experiment.

A. There are women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills;

B. These women have more abnormal children; and

C. These women have children of lower IQ.

There are women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills…

I cannot find anything in Seaman’s book that supports this assertion. As I’m using the ePub version of the book, it is easy to find references to “pregnant women”. According to my search, these are the instances The Greatest Experiment used the word “pregnant” in relation to hormone products (NB: For obvious reasons, I’ve removed references to pregnant non-human animals such as mice and rabbits):

In Chapter 2:

“It is estimated that in the years from 1941 to 1971, over four million pregnant women in the United States were treated with nonsteroidal synthetic estrogen on the contention that it would prevent miscarriages and ensure their babies’ health.”

In Chapter 5:

“But there was this Texas fellow, Karl John Karnaky, a wealthy man who ran his own clinic, with no trustees or review board to question his methods of injecting stilbestrol directly into the wombs of pregnant women to prevent miscarriages.”

In Chapter 8:

“We were swamped with questions and comments on Enovid, the first oral contraceptive. Some viewers were disappointed that it ruined their sex lives, making them feel toujours pregnant.”

“Much less recognized in the 1960s, but nonetheless a part of our lives and of the Greatest Experiment, was Charlie Dodds’s misbegotten diethylstilbestrol, which held a larger share of the market than any other hormone. It was still prescribed for pregnant women, although the Karnaky/Smith claims that it would prevent miscarriage were never proved.”

In Chapter 10:

“If you miss two periods, see your doctor even though you have been taking the pill as directed. When you stop taking the pill, your periods may be irregular for some time. During this time, you may have trouble becoming pregnant.”

In Appendix: Over the Menopausal Rainbow:

“Pregnant women should avoid skin contact with testosterone topical gel application site in men.”

In Note 39:

“DES (diethylstilbestrol) is a synthetic estrogen drug that was given to millions of pregnant women primarily from 1938-1971.”

“Cancer: All DES daughters (women whose mothers took DES while pregnant with them) have a risk of about 1 in 1,000 for a rare cancer of the vagina or cervix called clear cell adenocarcinoma.”

In Note 64:

“In 1936 and 1937, Dr. White treated pregnant diabetics experimentally with Butenandt’s products prolutun and progynon , but no sooner did Doods publish his formula than she switched to stilbestrol.”

The Chapter 8 of the book actually has a passage very fatal to Sotto’s contention that Seaman’s book state that “there are women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills.” In this chapter Seaman quoted Dr. Elizabeth Siegel Watkins’ On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives (1998), a book that Seaman called “authoritative.” It was a long quote that ended in this sentence: “The pill offered easy, reliable effective protection against pregnancy, which empowered women to plan when to have children and how many to have.”  Is Sotto, or his staff, aware of this? Not, if they haven’t actually read the entire book.

The women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills have more abnormal children…

There is no reference to this in Seaman’s book. However, in Note 203 of the book, there is a reference to a study entitled “Limb Malformation and Abnormal Sex Hormone Concentration in Frogs.” Is Sotto referring to this one?

Perhaps Sotto is referring to this passage in Chapter 2 of the book:

“The Shimkin-Grady paper was far from the only warning about DES. Dr. Charles Geschicter of Johns Hopkins reported in Radiology magazine that he produced mammary cancer in Wistar rats by injecting them with DES and other estrogens. Probably more shocking was the much later discovery by Dr. Karnaky of Houston and Drs. George and Olive Smith of Harvard and others who followed their lead of the abnormalities in the reproductive organs of children of mother given DES in pregnancy.” (emphasis mine)

However, this doesn’t support Sotto’s claim at all. First, nothing in this passage refer to women taking contraceptive pills. The passage clearly refers to pregnant women who were given DES, which, according to Note 39 of the book, is a synthetic estrogen drug used from 1938-1971 to prevent miscarriages. Second, DES is not a contraceptive pill. And third, the abnormalities of the reproductive organs of the children were linked not to the contraceptive pills taken by women before they got pregnant BUT to the DES pill women took when they were pregnant.  How is this related to the RH Bill can only be explained by the bizarre workings of the mind of Sotto and his staff.

It is also worth noting that women who are pregnant should never take any drugs that have hormones in them. Even the product information of Diane, the contraceptive pill that, according to Sotto, Helen Gamboa used, clearly says this: “This medication should not be taken by pregnant women as it can cause harm to the developing baby. If you become or suspect that you may be pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately. After stopping treatment, you should wait until at least one normal menstrual cycle has occurred before trying to get pregnant.” If Gamboa was really taking Diane during that time, perhaps the reason their first born son died of heart complications was that she kept on ingesting Diane even though she was pregnant.

Nothing in Seaman’s book provides evidence to Sotto’s claim that taking contraceptive pills when you are not pregnant can cause harm to your future babies. What the book says is that taking estrogen products while you are pregnant can cause harm to your baby.

The women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills have children with lower IQ

IQ is only mentioned twice in Seaman’s book. These two instances can be found in two related paragraphs in Chapter 2:

“In the mid-1950’s, numerous Auschwitz survivors told Dr. Jean Jofen, a psychologist at City University in New York, that they were fed daily doses of liquid estrogen in their rutabaga soup. The women stopped menstruating and the men lost their sex drive, just as the Nazis expected. But these refugees were not left permanently sterile. Indeed, Dr. Jojen, herself born in Vienna, had occasion to question these Auschwitz survivors because she was testing the IQs of their five-year-old children at a Hebrew parochial school.” (emphasis mine)

“When I interviewed Dr. Jofen in 1976, she recalled that ‘the synthetic estrogens were similar to those found in the current pill. They just poured it in the soup. There was no dosage.’ She later said the contraceptive pill was called salitrum. There were long-term repercussions to this fortified soup. In a paper presented at the fifth World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Jofen reported that after testing hundreds of children of holocaust survivors, the Auschwitz contingent had the lowest IQ range. Jofen wondered if the hormone experiments did some permanent harm to the ova of these mothers. The comparison group, mothers who’d been interned at other concentration camps, also endured dreadful conditions, but they received no estrogen and their children’s IQs were higher.” (emphasis mine)

Hurray! We now have passages that might actually support Sotto’s claims! But not so fast. These two passages need to be analyzed.

First, this passage is referring to “liquid estrogen,” called salitrum, fed by the Nazi’s to the Jewish men and women interned in Auschwitz. Although Dr. Jofen said that this is similar to the contraceptive pill used in the 70’s, this cannot support current circumstances. In order for Sotto to be able to use this passage to support his claim, he needs to prove that the current contraceptive pills are similar to salitrum. And second, this passage only refers to children born of mothers who were fed liquid estrogen in Auschwitz, the findings of Dr. Jofen cannot be used outside this context.

In order for Sotto to effectively use these passages as a valid support for his claim he needs to:

1) provide robust arguments that the conditions in Auschwitz are similar to the Philippines;

2) the RH Bill is going to feed women liquid estrogen; and

3) the contraceptive pills that the government will be distributing for free is similar to salitrum.

Unfortunately, he has not demonstrated this in his speech, so we have no reason to be persuaded by him, unless of course we don’t care about the truthtfulness of Sotto’s claim.

Conclusion

In sum, assuming that Sotto and I are referring to the same book, Barbara Seaman’s The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth does not in anyway support Senator Tito Sotto’s claims. More importantly, after learning who Barbara Seaman is, there is no reason to believe that Seaman herself will support Sotto’s position on the RH Bill. Seaman must be rolling in her grave right now.

Lastly, we have to ask whether Sotto and whoever is responsible for his speech have actually read Barbara Seaman’s book. Did they really research? If they have read it, they have either “accidentally” misinterpreted the book or deliberately twisted Seaman’s arguments in order to support Sotto’s position regarding the RH Bill. If they haven’t read it, why on earth are  they using it as their evidence? That is a very irresponsible and deceptive act.

The Philippine constitution says that ability to read and write is one of the requirements of being a senator. Ability to read must be interpreted to include the ability to comprehend what you are reading. Sotto may be able to read, but does he have the ability to comprehend what he is reading? Based on this instance, he doesn’t. Senator Tito Sotto’s turno en contra speech is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Ordinary students are routinely punished for dishonesty, deception, and intellectual laziness, why would a senator get away with it?

1 In this article, I’m using the ePub version of Barbara Seaman’s The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth being sold at Kobo books.

Posted in Politics, RH Bill4 Comments

How an RH Law Will Change the Dynamics of Reproductive Health Rights

Image Credit: ANC Video

Whether or not the RH bill is made into law, Filipinos have the right to use contraception. More precisely, they have the Hohfeldian privilege-right, which means they have no duty not to use contraception because there is no law prohibiting them from doing so. According to the Hohfeldian system for describing the form of rights, to say that one has a privilege to do something is to say that one has no duty not to do it.

This is what some of the opponents of the RH bill, including Sen. Tito Sotto, are saying. They also point out that free contraceptives are already being distributed by the government so there is really no need for an RH law.

But such distribution is only happening because the current administration supports it. Moreover, as Karen Davila said in an interview with Sen. Sotto last August 16, in many cities where the mayor or governor is a member of the Opus Dei or Pro-Life, they impose their religious beliefs on their constituents by pulling out all the contraceptives from the barangay hall.

To which Sotto replied, “That’s looking at it on the other side of the fence, Karen. Look at it on the other side…you are removing the freedom of choice of the mayor and the governor and the next president.” He argued that if the next president is against contraception, you will remove his freedom of choice if RH is already made into law.

Which is precisely the point of the RH bill not only as far as contraceptives are concerned, but also in providing for age-appropriate sex education, reproductive health information, midwives, emergency obstetric care, and maternal and newborn health care in crisis situations. For now, all of these are merely privileges or privilege-rights in the sense that there is no law prohibiting people from using contraception, and there is no law prohibiting the national and local governments from giving everything that the RH bill seeks to provide.

An RH law, however, will add to this privilege a claim by imposing on the government a duty to provide qualified people access to free contraceptives, information, emergency obstetric care, etc. To say that one has a Hohfeldian claim-right means that another has a duty to satisfy that claim. In other words, an RH law will take away a mayor’s right to be a douchebag by depriving citizens of RH services in the name of his religion.

And this is one of Sotto’s major objections to the RH bill. It seems that he is more concerned that the mayors, governors, and the next president will have the “freedom of choice” to withhold lifesaving information and assistance, than to grant the claim-right to the thousands of Filipino women who badly need them and whose lives could be saved by an RH law.

Which makes us wonder, is Sen. Sotto really pro-life? He sounds more like pro-choice ― not choice for women, but choice for the public officials.

Posted in RH Bill6 Comments

Bad Father or Evil Politician: Did Sotto lie about his son’s death?

Despite his patent lies and his staff’s excuses, Sotto’s plagiarism  is now an established fact. They have even changed their defense to plagiarism being an acceptable practice for Senators. I’d first thought that Sotto was alone in his stupidity, but it appears even Sen. Santiago thinks the Senate is exempted from academic standards of honesty.

But all this talk about plagiarism has overshadowed the most controversial part of Sotto’s recent speech: his claim that oral contraceptives killed his son. Some critics have hesitated to attack this claim, and those who haven’t, such as former health secretary Esperanza Cabral and Rep. Janet Garin, have taken flack for even entertaining the idea that Sotto would lie about something as serious as his own son’s death.

But since Sotto, a public official, has entered his personal tragedy into public record, it is fair game to consider the possibility that Sotto is lying. And I believe this is precisely what he did. Sotto is lying about the death of his son to further his fight against the RH Bill. Many of his statements and actions — these past weeks and even during his entire career — point to this conclusion.

1. Sotto lied about the pill his wife was on.

Sotto said his wife was taking Diane in 1975. Diane was introduced in 1978. This is the kind of detail you never forget. Rather than an honest mistake, he is probably lying.

Back in high school I got contact dermatitis (eczema). Today, almost two decades later, I still remember the name of the ointment I was prescribed by my dermatologist: dermovate. It came in a small green tube, and you could also get it in a more expensive cream version.

Sure, Sotto’s tragedy happened much earlier. But all I got was a bad summer; his son died. You’d think that such tragedies etch every minor detail into memory, especially the name of his son’s killer. Could Sotto have forgetten this? I don’t think so.

2. Sotto lied about his medical sources.

The first time Sotto defended himself from plagiarism allegations, he denied it. He asked, “Why should I quote a blogger?” He explained that he and Sarah Pope were reading the same author, and that’s who he’s citing. This defense was echoed by his chief-of-staff, Atty. Hector Villacorta.

Again, Sotto and Villacorta were lying. They have already admitted to not even having a copy of the book, using Pope’s blog to indirectly (but incorrectly) cite McBride.

Yet even if Sotto had a copy of McBride’s book somewhere, it couldn’t have been his source for long because Gut and Psychology Syndrome was first published in 2004. Sotto’s other source, The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed On Women — a source he misrepresents just as much as Sarah’s post — was first published in 2003.

So as far as we know, all those years blaming contraception for his son’s death was because of his physician, Dr. Carmen Envarga-Santos, who has passed away and can no longer confirm or deny Sotto’s claim.

Thankfully, her family is still around and has said that if Dr. Envarga-Santos were alive, she would be pro-RH. And I don’t doubt that she’d be furious that Sotto is using her reputation to argue against contraception.

3. Sotto hasn’t attacked his son’s killer for almost 4 decades.

Sotto learned 37 years ago that oral contraceptives killed his son. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that his wife was on the pill (some pill that actually existed back then) and that he was really told that the pill killed his son by his doctor (who was pro-RH but rather incompetent, at least in this story). If that were true, Sotto has done nothing for almost 4 decades to fight his son’s killer.

And it’s not like he didn’t have the opportunity. He was already a TV host in 1975. He could have used his celebrity status to raise awareness about the dangers of oral contraception. But he didn’t.

He became vice mayor of Quezon City in 1988. He could’ve restricted access to oral contraception (the way it was done in Manila). But he didn’t.

He became senator in 1992. He could’ve proposed a bill to ban oral contraceptives (or at least add “birth defects of future children” to the list of complications found in every box of pills). But he didn’t.

He led the Dangerous Drugs board in 2008, and he could’ve included oral contraceptives on that list. But he didn’t.

What kind of man is Tito Sotto?

Sotto has done nothing for 37 years, waiting for the very moment the RH Bill is on the verge of passing, to reveal one of the most damaging details about oral contraceptives that even those on the anti-RH side has failed to discover. The way I see it we can interpret this in one of two ways:

Either Sotto is a bad father, who has realized just now that he owes it to his son, his family, and his constituents to reveal the truth about his son’s killer so that they could avoid a similar fate.

Or Sotto is an evil politician, willing to do anything to block the RH bill, which includes plagiarizing and twisting the words of writers, tarnishing the reputation of physicians who can’t defend themselves, and lying about the death of his own son.

Whatever Sotto is — a bad father or an evil politician — he does not deserve to be a senator.

Posted in Personal, Politics, Religion7 Comments

Senator Tito Sotto: Dishonest, Deceptive, and Intellectually Lazy (Part 1)

According to one of the greatest senators of our republic, the “Filipino people are worth dying for”, aren’t they worth properly citing, reliably researching, and thoroughly analysing for?

Introduction

Senator Tito Sotto, his staff, and his fans club should not confuse his other profession as an actor with his being a senator. Sotto, as an actor, is not responsible for what he is saying or even doing when he plays a character in a film, sitcom, or teleserye. If Sotto plays the character of a dishonest, deceptive, and intellectually lazy senator in a film, only those who cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction will seek to either correct or condemn him. But when Sotto delivered his turno en contra speech, he is not playing the character role of a senator: He is Senator Tito Sotto, a public servant of the Republic of the Philippines, and his speech writer/researchers are not scriptwriters. All of them are paid by the Filipino people not to entertain but to provide the highest standard of public service. If Sotto’s listeners find out that he is dishonest, deceptive, and intellectually lazy, they have all the right to point it out; they are, after all, not paying him to be that kind of senator. Even if he is presenting an argument that we don’t agree with, he still has to deliver those arguments with the highest standard of research and reading comprehension.

After his first speech, it was found out that he plagiarized – not just once but several times in the same speech. To be fair, Sotto is not the only one in world history that has committed this lapse in judgment. In 1991, the New York Times reported that after a thorough investigation of the committee formed by Boston University, it was verified that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “plagiarized passages in his dissertation for a doctoral degree.”  Although they didn’t ask for the revocation of Rev. King’s doctoral degree, the committee recommended “that a letter stating its finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King’s dissertation in the university’s library.” This demonstrates that plagiarism, even if committed by a Nobel Laureate or a world hero, is still plagiarism.

Plagiarism does not automatically diminish the value of your arguments. What it does is tarnish your character and betrays your thinking style: Are plagiarists thoughtful thinkers or are they ungrateful parrots who only repeat what they have heard and read?  In Writing with Sources: A Guide for Students, a guide developed for Harvard University’s Expository Writing Program, Gordon Harvey defines plagiarism as “the act of passing off information, ideas, or words of another as your own, by failing to acknowledge their source-an act of lying, cheating, and stealing.” Sotto claimed that he graduated from “the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.” If so, then he must be aware of the strict rules against plagiarism of his alma mater, as stated in the Harvard Guide to Using Sources. Harvard Guide provides two reasons why their students should properly cite their sources:

 First, citing sources allows scholars to give credit to other scholars for their hard work and their ideas. Second, by citing sources, scholars provide a roadmap for readers who are interested in learning more about a topic and joining the ongoing conversation about that topic. (emphasis mine)

The first reason is about basic respect and humility. It takes so much time and energy to think, research, and craft a thoughtful argument. Using someone else’s hard work as your source is of course allowed, that’s just how knowledge develops. Even if your source is a blog, you have to properly cite it. All citations styles – such as MLA, APA, and Chicago – agree that blogs, even blog comments, should be properly cited. Even if you are citing a citation made in another person’s work, you still have to inform your listeners about it. With Sotto’s Harvard education, as well as his staffs’ educational attainment, there is no way they don’t know this. Moreover, there are a lot of free resources online that can guide them how to cite properly. One website even does the citing for you (see: EasyBib.com)! And no, this is not just about complying with the legal rules of copyright as what Atty. Hector Villacorta, the chief of staff of Sen. Sotto, would like to make it appear. This is just plain gratitude and honesty. Citing your sources is respecting the hard work of the author/s of your sources. With this respect comes the humility to accept that your ideas are not original, they came from other people. And with humility, comes gratitude, or in our culture, “utang na loob.” Respect, humility, honesty, and gratitude are values prior to legal ones.

Harvard Guide’s second reason points us to something more practical. Citing your sources allows your listeners to know the richer context of your arguments. Thoughtful speakers and writer make thoughtful listeners and readers – but they cannot be thoughtful listeners and readers if they cannot thoroughly examine the content and context of your arguments. You cannot just tell your listeners or readers that this is the truth; they need to know the basis of your truth-claims so they can decide for themselves whether or not your arguments are persuasive enough. This point is wonderfully summed up by Charles Lipson in Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles – MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More. Besides upholding important social values, properly citing your sources “show[s] readers the materials on which you base your analysis, your narrative, your conclusions…[and] guide readers to the materials you have used so they can examine it for themselves. Their interest might be to confirm your work, to challenge it, or simply to explore it further.” How can the Filipino people verify the veracity of Sotto’s arguments if he doesn’t properly cite them? But in fairness to Sotto, he did cite some of his sources, allowing us to look more deeply into his arguments.

In this article, we will analyze whether one of the sources Sotto mentioned in Part 2 of his turno en contra speech actually supports his claims. I am referring to Barbara Seaman’s The Greatest Experiement Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth. It is one of the evidences he presented to support his claim that contraceptive pills have bad effects to children born of mothers using them (“…mga pag-aaral na makakapagpatunay na mayroong masamang epekto ang contraceptives sa kalusugan ng mga bata na pinanganak ng mga ina na gumagamit ng contraceptives”).

The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth

This is exactly how Sotto used  Barbara Seaman’s book:

In the book entitled ‘The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth’ by Barbara Seaman, it was stated that those who take pills but still got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower I.Q. (Hindi naman po siguro kelangan pa na maging doctor ang isang tao para lamang malaman ang maaaring maging kumplikasyon ng pag-gamit ng pills ngunit nagbuntis pa din di ba?).

This is actually an iteration of the statement Sotto made in the media when former Department of Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral challenged the claim he made in the Part 1 of his turno en contra speech that his first son died because his wife Helen Gamboa used contraceptive pills. Sotto said:

Based on [s]tudies yes those on pills who got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower IQ. From the book ‘Greatest experiment ever performed on women’ by Barbara Seaman. Tell them to read it. [It’s] available on line or order from amazon.com.

In order for us to determine whether Seaman’s book supports Sotto’s claims, we have to answer several questions:

  1. What is the book about?
  2. Who is Barbara Seaman?
  3. What is the exact quotation from Seaman’s book?
  4. What is the context of the passage?

We will answer 1 and 2 in this article, while 3 and 4 will be explored in Part 2.

What is the book about? Who is Barbara Seaman?

In a eulogy in The New York Times, Barbara Seaman (1935-2008) is described as “a writer and patients’ rights advocate who was one of the first people to bring the issue of women’s reproductive health to wide public attention.” She is one of the founders of National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). According to their website, NWHN “aspires to a health care system that is guided by social justice, in which all women have access to excellent health care that meets [the diverse needs of women].” Their goals include the following:

(1)    “…ensure that every woman can make her own decisions about her reproductive and sexual health;”

(2)    “…advocates for comprehensive, accessible contraceptive and abortion care, accurate information about sexuality and reproduction, and tools women can use to protect against HIV and sexually transmitted infection;”

(3)    “…promote access to safe and effective reproductive health products and services, with complete information and without ideological restrictions;” and

(4)    “…ensure that women have complete and accurate information about products and services marketed to them, and strengthens public protections against such threats.”

Given Seaman’s political position, how on earth Sotto – or whoever is responsible for his speech – used Seaman’s work to aid his arguments is baffling.  But let’s still give Sotto (and his speech writer/researcher) the benefit of the doubt…

What brought Seaman to fame (or notoriety) is her 1969 book The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill, which exposed the risks of high-dose estrogen birth control pills. In the foreword of the 25th Anniversary Edition of the book (1995), Claudia Dreifus writes how The Doctor’s Case led to a US Senate hearing about the concerns raised by Seaman: “The result [of the hearing] was a mandate that patient package inserts be included in all birth control pill packages.” According to NWHN’s profile of Seaman, this was the “first on any prescription drug,” leading the way for other prescription drugs to have their own package inserts that will inform people of their potential risks and adverse effects. Sotto could have used The Doctor’s Case as his textual support for his arguments, but we all know he didn’t. Instead, he used Seaman’s The Greatest Experiment. But using The Doctor’s Case wouldn’t also benefit Sotto because the facts and circumstances in that book are radically different from what we have today; and these radical changes are actually caused by Seaman’s exposition in the The Doctor’s Case.  However, The Greatest Experiment is a more bewildering and unfortunate choice of textual support for Sotto. And here’s why…

Published in 2003, The Greatest Experiment is a continuation of Seaman’s investigation on synthetic sex hormones. The Doctor’s Case, Seaman focuses on contraceptive pills taken by women who would like to prevent pregnancy while The Greatest Experiment is about hormone replacement therapy pills taken by women who would like to arrest the effects of menopause.  The Greatest Experiment exposes the risks of hormones being given to women going through their menopause. Nonetheless, even though Seaman is aware of those risks, she didn’t go on advocating for women not to use them at all. She is calling for greater caution in the use of estrogen products and for people to be more informed about them. This she expressed in the introduction of her book. After giving a background story about the meaning of the title of her book, Seaman writes, “estrogen products won’t go away, and they shouldn’t. One can only wish, as I do, that they will be used now with caution, based on evidence and facts, not illusion. My aim is to consider whether hormone supplements are necessary and for whom. Specifically, I hope this book will help women navigate the estrogen issue…But the larger hope is that we can make informed decisions about other drugs as well.”

More importantly,The Greatest Experiment is a fatal choice of textual support for Sotto because in Chapter 10, Seaman reproduced the leaflet FDA Commissioner Dr. Charles Edwards presented during the US Senate hearing about the concerns raised by Seaman in The Doctor’s Case. Seaman praised that leaflet calling “the wording [of the leaflet] helpful and clear,” but she lamented that “it was derailed, in a scandalous manner, by that unholy trio of organized medicine, drug manufacturers, and extremist population controllers.” And here’s what we can find in the leaflet Seaman praised:

All of the oral contraceptive pills are highly effective for preventing pregnancy when taken according to the approved directions. Your doctor has taken your medical history and has given you a careful physical examination. He has discussed with you the risks of oral contraceptives and has decided that you can take this drug safely.

If The Greatest Experiment is to be used at all in the RH Bill debate, the position that this book can support is not whether or not contraceptive pills should be used but whether or not the RH Bill has provisions to: 1) examine the medical history and give a careful physical examination of women before they are given the pill; 2) determine the responsibility of the government for those who will experience adverse reactions to contraceptive pills; and 3) If 1 & 2 are not present in the RH Bill, shouldn’t we include them there?

(In this article, I’m using the ePub version of Barbara Seaman’s The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth being sold at www.kobobooks.com)

In Part 2, we will examine how Sotto used The Greatest Experiment to support his claims, and see whether he is right in doing so.

 

Posted in Politics, RH Bill7 Comments

Schools Add New Course for Political Aides

The Balagtas University of Local Legislation, along with its sister-school, the Santiago-Hernando Institute of Technology, have announced a new course offering aimed at those with ambitions of serving as political aides to legislators, called Plagiarism 101.

“Contrary to popular opinion, plagiarism is not an absolute evil,” says school dean, Nympha Luz Otana. “We have discussed this matter with top political aides and even they say that copying is a common practice among them. They do it for their bosses’ speeches as well as the bills they pass. Therefore, it is a necessary skill for these aspiring aides. Our aim as an educational provider is to give our students the best training and technological competence possible in the art of copying.”

“For example,” she elaborates, “One of the course modules is entitled Keyboard Shortcuts. 80% of people who use computers copy and paste text by right-clicking on the selected text, choosing ‘Copy’ then moving to the destination, right-clicking and choosing ‘Paste’, but this is very slow and tedious especially if you are copying large amounts of text. The more efficient way would be to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-C for copy and Ctrl-V for paste. This simple tip can save countless hours for a legislative researcher who has to scour hundreds of blogs to put together his boss’ privilege speech. Oh, and if you want to copy the full text, you don’t have to use your mouse to select and then drag the selection all the way down. You can just press Ctrl-A. You understand, of course, that I am talking about Windows shortcuts which are more common. We have a separate module that deals with Mac shortcuts for Mac users. And as with the Mac, it comes at a premium price suited for their discerning tastes.”

Although the course primarily deals with skills, it also allocates several hours to philosophy and psychology. “Students need to get rid of the impression that they are doing something wrong and all the mental baggage that comes along with that,” explains Professor Giacobo Bolarte, a veteran teacher in the university. “They have to unlearn all the conditioning that other teachers have impressed upon them — that it is wrong to simply copy other people’s works without proper attribution. You know, politics is a whole different arena with a different set of rules. We cannot expect our lawmakers to keep citing their sources or to verify their information. Why do that when you can simply copy from a blog and assume that it is correct? Besides, how can a senator sound credible if he keeps saying ‘according to such and such a blog who cited Dr. so-and-so?’ Don’t you see how ridiculous and long-winded that would be?”

When asked how the other teachers and parents thought of this, Professor Bolarte replied, “Well, there are naturally a number of them that protested. But I think they are hypocrites. There is no new idea in the world. We are all just copying from past ideas and past discoveries. Look at the Bible. We would not have the Bible if the monks did not copy them from older documents. And even we humans are just copied from the image of God. See? There is nothing wrong with copying. Even God did it. So who are we to go against God?”

Image credit: http://blog.sagoma.com/il-download-e-il-mio-pastore-non-manco-di-nulla/i-love-ctrl-c-ctrl-v_t/

Posted in Satire0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Bacolod MeetUp, August 26, Sunday – Punta Taytay

Location: Punta Taytay Viewing Deck, Bacolod City
Google map: http://goo.gl/maps/I1rqS
Date: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Time: 2:00pm – 6:00pm
Discussion Topics
* Irresponsible Volunteerism – How is charity unethical
* ethics of brain artificial brain enhancement
http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/science_blog/brainboosting.html
* gluttonous science – is there such a thing as too much science?fill-in your contact details here http://goo.gl/z4e4w

RSVP in the Facebook event.

commuting directions: to follow

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.

Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0922 870 1760. Or send us a message of facebook.

* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* Newbies are welcome.
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.
* Please abide by the code of conduct.

Posted in Meetup0 Comments

Senator Enrile, Pregnancy is Not a Disease

The anti RH Senator Juan Ponce Enrile recently came out to defend Senator Tito Sotto from the allegations of plagiarism. In his defense of Sotto, Enrile questions the use of contraception for preventing pregnancy, putting forward the question: “Is pregnancy a disease that needs to be cured?”

“What disease does an IUD or a condom cure or prevent? I challenge the proponents to explain that to the public. Is not the purpose of these methods to reduce the population of the country,” Enrile asked. “In the case of a contraceptive pill, is pregnancy a disease that needs to be cured? Why do we need to prevent it?”

While Enrile prefaces his question with the case of birth control pills I think its fair to extend his question to other forms of birth control as well. Why should some women need to prevent pregnancy if its not a disease?

Perhaps he would find the answer to this question easily if he just asked his fellow anti RH legislator in congress, Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay.

No Senator Enrile, pregnancy is not a disease but pregnancy always carries a risk to women’s lives. With medical advancements that risk has been mitigated but for some the risk still runs too high. For some mothers, becoming pregnant means risking leaving their families motherless. For some women, contraception is what they need to have a healthy sexual relationship with their husband while ensuring their own lives aren’t put in jeopardy by a pregnancy.

Beyond contraception, the RH bill has other measures to mitigate the risk of childbirth. It provides for more midwives to attend to births. The RH bill would give sex education and access to reproductive health services to the poor. If it survives the period of ammendments, the RH bill could provide mobile hospitals that can attend to the maternal needs of women further away from hospitals. All these measures can help lower the risk of childbirth.

Evidence also matters in legislation.

Enrile, you asked if pregnancy is a disease. No it isn’t. Yet pregnancy carries with it risks to the life of the mother. Sometimes a significant risk, as attested to by Mitos Magsaysay’s own ligation. We need to do better by the mothers of the Philippines. Look at how our maternal mortality statistics compares to countries around us in Asia. We’re doing very poorly in lowering our maternal mortality rate and according to the latest statistics from the Department of Health, our maternal mortality rate is on the rise again.

I find it hard to believe Senator Enrile isn’t aware of the risks to maternal health. Has he been ignoring the debates all this time? Has Senator Pia Cayetano’s level headed presentation of facts on the RH bill fallen on his deaf ears while he raptly pays attention to Senator Sotto’s crying and presentation of old data from the 70s? To Sotto’s presentation of questionable sources? And I find it astounding that Enrile can question some women’s need to prevent pregnancy while someone from the anti RH camp has done that very thing.

Image captured from ANC’s coverage of Enrile’s opening statements during the Chief Justice trial

Posted in RH Bill1 Comment

Facebook.com/Freethinkers