Tag Archive | "contraceptives"

National misogynist hero

Manny Pacquiao“I don’t want to use a condom. Using a condom means I’m just using you for sex.”

That’s what my friend’s boyfriend told her when she suggested protection. She thought it was romantic. When he found out she was on the pill, he was insulted and asked her, “Why? Are you afraid of having my baby?” After they broke up, during the requisite mourning period, I listened to her talk about the highlights of her just-ended relationship, and concluded the guy was a chauvinist ass. She had no idea, for some reason, and the fact that I could still see his douchiness despite her sugar-coating (she still liked him) meant he must’ve been more of an ass than I could determine from what she was telling me.

That was almost a decade ago. Since then, my observations of my friends’ relationships have brought me to the conclusion that there were more guys like that out there. And these friends are mostly from middle-income families, and dated men who were more or less in the same income bracket, with the same level of education. I remember when I was little, I asked our laundrywoman why she had so many kids. She told me that whenever she refused to sleep with her husband, he’d accuse her of having an affair, so she just gives in to him. She didn’t even mention contraception or family planning, and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t too aware of either their existence or that they applied to her. I’m tempted to generalize and say that my friend’s ex’s and our laundrywoman’s husband’s attitude is typical of Filipino men’s attitude towards women’s choices regarding reproduction and sexuality, but I won’t because (1) I want to be an optimist, and (2) I like to hang out with more enlightened men, and these guys make me optimistic.

And then Manny Pacquiao decided to join the Reproductive Health Bill debate.

An undisputed national hero and distinguished gentleman representative from Sarangani, Manny Pacquiao was staunchly against the RH Bill. He quoted the Bible, and said, in effect, that any attempts to curb reproduction was against the will of his god. While we’re not sure how the personal religious beliefs of this pregnancy-challenged man have to do with us uterus-carrying citizens, people pointed out that his wife Jinkee has admitted to being on the pill. Now he’s bragging that he made his wife Jinkee stop taking pills and have more kids. (I wonder if my friend would’ve found this romantic too.)

Now if Cong. Pacquiao’s constituents meant to elect someone who insists on controlling his wife’s reproductive health choices, I suppose that’s democracy for you. What puzzles me is this: Pacquiao is an international superstar. He has fans all over the globe. He’s a celebrity’s celebrity; Hollywood big shots are falling over themselves to meet him. Why oh why does he not have the sense to hire — or listen to — a public relations agent or firm who will tell him that this sort of misogynist douchbaggery isn’t going to be good for his reputation? Granted, it’s nothing close to Mike Tyson’s conviction for rape, but for us Filipinos, this is an insult to women in general, and not because Pacquiao’s a boxing superstar but because he is an elected public servant who is tasked to improve the lives of his constituents — male and female. It’s difficult to expect him to protect women’s rights and welfare when he seems unconcerned about flaunting his blatant sexism all over the place.

The Pacquiaos are luckier than most Filipino couples — they actually have the choice of buying any form of legal contraceptive there is. Hell, they can buy an entire condom factory if they want to. Not everyone has that luxury. A lot of families are so poor they can barely afford three meals a day, much less birth control pills (mine are less than PhP 50 for a whole month’s pack) or condoms. The Reproductive Health Bill is mostly to help them, to give them a choice on whether to have 1, 2 or a dozen children. Or none, if that’s what they prefer. And the Pacquiaos can afford to feed, clothe and spoil the heck out of their four children. If they have two dozen more kids, the Pacquiaos can give each of them a mansion with servants. Thousands of families in the Philippines can barely afford to feed theirs. All Cong. Pacquiao can talk about is his god’s will, not even trying to propose solutions to the problems of families having to feed more kids than they can afford. Or the problem of an average of 11 women dying every day due to birth complications. Not all those who are anti-RH Bill are opposed to artificial contraceptives in general, and they don’t have to be. Cong. Pacquiao didn’t have to flaunt his staunch opposition to pills, but he seems to be trying to show off for his church’s bishops, so much so that his wife’s reproductive choices had to get dragged into this. Jinkee Pacquiao now says she’s against the RH Bill and that she has stopped taking pills. Her husband says they fought over the issue of her taking pills, but that they’re of one mind now concerning the issue of contraception, and one wonders if Manny Pacquiao, national hero and boxing superstar, will make sure to get her pregnant soon just to prove it.

Tania writes about stuff at The Entropy Blog.

Jinkee Pacquiao says Pacman didn’t know she took birth control pills before – Spot.PH
Pacquiao: Jinkee and I fought over RH bill – Yahoo! news
Pacquiao slips RH advocates’ jab on Jinkee’s pill use – Inquirer.NET
Pacquiao opposes RH bill while Jinkee pops birth control pills – Philippine News
Jinkee stopped taking birth control pills, Pacquiao says – GMA News

Posted in Featured, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (111)

Lying for a Cause (part 2)

Cherry pciking image from http://outofthestormnews.com/2010/07/22/louisiana-continues-to-improve-punts-cherry-picking-restrictions/The article “Lying for a Cause” generated a response from the creator of the anti-RH video, the core paragraphs of which are as follows:

In the said article, they accused us of purposely lying because in the video was a picture of a small kid being vaccinated. The video subtitle said it was sterilization and they point out that the picture was taken from another article regarding swine flu (?) and they go on ranting about this mistake, and how sterilizations are about vasectomy and ligations. They therefore concluded that we lied.

First of all, it is a given that I used pictures from all over the internet. Is this how Freethinkers are supposed to think? Cherry-pick on a small issue that is virtually a non-issue? That’s just shows the intellectual void between your ears. By focusing on that small point, they missed the larger point of the video. You miss the forest for the trees. But hey, let’s not stop them from doing their thing. They’re freethinkers after all. That is how they think.

Lastly, the article pointed out vasectomies and ligations as ways of sterilizations. Haven’t they heard of vaccines that were deliberately sterilized people? Try visiting this and read up: http://www.whale.to/m/sterile.html

Anti-RH groups have consistently hammered on artificial contraception as their main issue against reproductive health. Female sterilization is the most popular method of artificial contraception worldwide (20% use) and ranks second here in the Philippines (10% use). Opponents of RH should know what they are opposing. Sterilization, tubal ligation and vasectomy are not esoteric procedures. If the video’s creator thinks that not knowing what he is opposing is “virtually a non-issue”, I do hope responsible members of his group will tell him otherwise.

Besides the cherry-picking defense, the video’s creator came up with a bolder counterpoint: that there are vaccines that deliberately sterilize people. This claim is dangerous to infants and mothers and deserves a longer response.

First let’s tackle the source. Whale.to is a conspiracy theory site. It gave rise to Scopie’s Law which states: “In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses the argument immediately, and gets you laughed out of the room.” Others have written extensively on the website which you can read here and here, or you can simply browse www.whale.to and judge for yourself the general credibility of the site. This article’s point is more on the anti-RH video, specifically these two contradictory claims:

Anti-RH video says: “In 1916, Margaret Sanger formed Planned Parenthood. She believed in racial purity and targeted Black People. Adolf Hitler eventually adopted Sanger’s Eugenics… and killed more than 4 million Jews.”

Whale.to says: “There isn’t any evidence for homicidal gas chambers, only gas shelters or disinfection chambers to kill lice that spread Typhus (hence the use of Zyklon B), a major cause of death at the time and the reason for all the bodies seen in the mass graves at Belsen, that were used to convince people of Nazi ‘death camps.’ The gas chamber myth can easily be seen in the absurdity of the morgues that are passed off as gas chambers at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II, and in the actual mechanics of using gas to kill humans (see Mechanics of Gassing Gas chambers). There also isn’t any written evidence for a policy of genocide known as the ‘Final Solution’.”

If the video’s creator thinks whale.to is credible enough to support his bold claim on vaccines that sterilize people, will he also believe the site’s extensive denial of Nazi death camps and drop his Sanger-Hitler-genocide argument? Or will he just admit his mistake on the sterilization-vaccination link? (Before answering, he may also want to examine first articles in the site that touch on Catholicism such as this one The Homosexual Colonization of The Catholic Church and this page Popes.)

This photo was used in the anti-RH video with the caption “…and killed more than 4 million Jews.” On the other hand, whale.to claims in the photo caption that these are victims of typhus and starvation.

Caption of the anti-RH video: “The rest of the world have adopted an RH bill in one form or another. These countries eventually embraced abortion and the culture of death.” At the whale.to site where this photo is also posted, the topmost part of the page says: “Belsen photographs … Typhus victims were stripped after death in order to burn the clothing and destroy the typhus-bearing lice.”

Now on to the video’s message that contraception leads to genocide or is genocide. One test of this claim is to look at the Jewish people—the victims of Hitler’s genocide—and their current handling of contraception.

Genocide is punishable with death in Israel. Similar to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Israel defines the crime as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious (hereinafter referred to as ‘group’), as such:

(1)   killing members of the group;

(2)   causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(3)   inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part;

(4)   imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(5)   forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Yet, despite Act number 4 above being defined as genocide, contraception is legal and practiced in Israel, with 30% using IUDs, 13% pills, 4% condoms and 5% other modern methods. The key word in Act number 4 is “imposing”—making people use birth control against their will. Contraception based on free choice is legal and accepted.

Another test of the contraception-leads-to-genocide claim is to look at disparities in the use of modern methods in the Philippines. If less powerful groups are being targeted for destruction through contraception as part of a eugenics agenda, then we should see higher rates of contraceptive use among these groups. But the opposite trend is quite apparent—more powerful groups use more contraceptives (see table below). Instead of evidence of genocide, what we have are signs that marginalized people do not have equitable access to contraception.

Percentage Current Use of Modern Contraceptives
Richest region (NCR) – 32% Poorest region (ARMM) – 10%
With college education – 36% With no education – 9%
Highest wealth quintile – 33% Lowest wealth quintile – 26%
Highest wealth quintile
using female sterilization – 12%
Lowest wealth quintile
using female sterilization – 4%
Source: 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey, p. 56


Forcible sex is rape. Forcing others to follow your sexual practices violates a host of civil rights. Sex between consenting adults is accepted by society. Similar norms are applicable to contraception. Imposing birth control is genocide. Imposing Vatican-approved methods—as was done in Manila by ex-mayor Lito Atienza of Pro-Life Philippinesis a violation of human rights. The freedom to choose a family planning method and government services to realize the choice is a fine policy, and is at the core of the current Reproductive Health bill.

(Next: Erroneous claims on vaccines and abortion/sterilization and the deadly consequences for infants and women)

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FF Podcast (Audio) 005: Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance vs. RH

In this episode we recap what happened at the public hearing on the Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance that, among other things, required prescriptions for contraceptives — even condoms.

We talk about how the ordinance was created, what the anti-ordinance advocates are doing to stop it, and what we’re going to do next, given recent developments and all that’s happened at today’s hearing.

Joining us is Kevin Punzalan, one of the organizers of the anti-ordinance advocates and admin of the We Oppose the Ayala Alabang Ordinance 01 of 2011 Facebook group. Enjoy!

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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Fr. Freethinker, the Secular Priest

It’s not everyday that a Catholic priest impresses me with his pragmatism and honesty when speaking about controversial issues like contraception and especially with his guts in defining the limits of the moral authority of his superiors, the bishops. I am talking about Fr. Ranhilio “Rannie” C. Aquino, who also happens to be dean of San Beda Graduate School of Law and whom I would like to call Fr. Freethinker, the secular priest.

And before anyone says, “Oxymoron!”, let’s try to put ‘secular’ into proper connotation:

Obviously, I am using the second definition in the case of “secular priest”. Fr. Rannie could profess allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church and yet carry no illusions that its dogmas are to be presumed infallible in public discourse. Let’s take for example these bits from the beginning paragraph of his Manila Standard Today article titled Keeping in sync:
As a Catholic priest, I firmly believe that the Church has a sacred mandate and that…it is, and should be, “an expert on humanity”. And so it is troubling that many, if not most, church documents and pronouncements today…go unnoticed… Often, churchmen have only themselves to blame… Their pronouncements exhibit predictable patterns of thought couched in ecclesiastical language that is as tedious and as boring as the National Internal Revenue Code!  This is true of the Philippine bishops’ comments on the reproductive health bill.  The bishops’ theoretical framework is just out of sync with academic thinking today.
Now if you think there is some sort of hypocrisy here because how could a priest criticize the bishops’ statements and not resign from the Church, let’s take a look at what ‘hypocrisy’ means:
The first definition roughly says that hypocrisy means not believing what you preach while in the second it’s not practicing what you preach. In both cases, Fr. Rannie is not a hypocrite. Take note that the “preaching” being referred to here is his op-ed in Manila Standard Today and not necessarily his sermons in church (which I have yet to hear). He “preaches” about the need for the Church’s hierarchy to keep up with the sophistication with which society views morality today, and though he remains with the institution that stubbornly and arrogantly insists on an outdated moral standard on human sexuality, he calls on the same institution to come up with a non-sectarian, philosophically tenable answer on what makes contraception morally objectionable. Clearly this is not hypocrisy but integrity in its most concrete manifestation.
Going back to secularism, our legislators, who are given the constitutional command that no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, can do a better job in representing their constituents if only they would heed Fr. Rannie’s words:
But alas, the influential bishops, who probably spend much more time reading Papal encyclicals inside their spacious, well-furnished residences than looking into the privation of Filipino families living in overcrowded slum areas, seem unable to distinguish between the Church and the Republic as far as the authority of their dogmas is concerned. And while our Fr. Freethinker may never become bishop because of his secular views, here’s to hoping that his voice, which is actually the voice of Reason, be heard by our politicians and echoed into our laws for the sake of our democracy.

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Talking to Death

A fictional face-off between Aquino and bishops

A fictional face-off between Aquino and bishops

The common sexist notion is that women talk too much. But on the issue of reproductive health, a bachelors’ club and a bachelor president may well be gearing up to talk each other to death.

I’m talking of course about the CBCP bishops and President Aquino. Listen to the palace’s spokesman and pray tell if you can detect any sense of urgency: “As you know we still have a dialogue with the bishops on the end of February. We committed to propose a responsible parenthood bill with inputs from the dialogue. … The President will limit his power to certify measures as urgent based on what is stated in the Constitution. It refers only to emergency cases. So most likely, [the RP bill] will not be certified as urgent.”

But really, what can these bachelors with palaces talk and agree about?

The bishops are sworn to obey the pope and Humanae Vitae—they can’t agree to any law that includes artificial contraception as a choice, even if it’s called “The Most Sacred, Blessed and Responsible Parenthood Within Holy Matrimony Act.”

The president has sworn to a Constitution where human rights and Church-and-State separation are fundamental principles. His idea that informed choice must be central to family planning is a mere reiteration of constitutional tenets. He cannot endorse the bishops’ NFP-only doctrine without junking his “daang matuwid” (honourable path) and following his predecessor’s hobby of trashing our basic law.

And so we had mighty men glaring at each other the last few months. A tense deadlock, dramatically broken when the most powerful of them all decided… to talk some more.

Poor mothers and infants die each day, half from pregnancies unplanned, others due to simple RH services unavailable. Will bachelors with palaces notice or care?

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“Contraception Doesn’t Decrease Abortions” – Busted!

“Nations that have adopted contraception have not seen a drop in abortions,” fulminated a recent post in an anti-RH Facebook page. “That’s a patent lie.” This is such a common anti-choice trope, that anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson can repeat it without supporting data, and without fear of rebuttal.

Too bad the data doesn’t support their claims. More widespread contraceptive use correlates strongly with lower abortions. Diehard opponents of the pending Reproductive Health Bill will find this statement difficult to parse, much less accept: after all, aren’t abortions and contraceptives just two cogs in the same anti-life mechanism? Don’t abortion rates go up with rates of contraceptive use?

Actually, no – many studies show that abortion rates recede if decision makers are provided enough information and a wider range of contraceptive choices.

The states comprising the former Soviet Union are the perfect place to test this – a large population for whom “abortion was legal and widely available, whereas contraceptives were in limited supply” (Marston & Cleland). The data supports the conclusion that as more contraceptive methods were introduced, the rate of abortions began to drop precipitously. Read the full story

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