The Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) is one hell of a beast. The Philippines’ Roman Catholic Church literally sees it as such — a beast straight out of hell that will undermine everything that it stands for. It has, today, come down to the vote: Will Philippine Congress approve or reject the bill? It is therefore ultimately (as with most things of consequence for that matter) political.
As with most things political, the epicentre of the politicking needs to be politically correct in order for the right personalities to be on board. The RH Bill has now been made politically-correct beyond recognition. The Bill is now, supposedly about “about health, rights, [and] choices.”
But is it really?
Back in the old days, there was really just one overarching issue that ready-access to artificial contraception really sought to address: population. The short of it is quite simple, really:
The Philippines is over-populated.
We have committed to supporting a 100-million-strong portfolio of humanity despite an inherent inability to generate enough economic output to sustain these numbers in a manner that meets established global standards of human development. This simple reality ties back to my definition of poverty:
Our poverty stems from an inherent inability to honour commitments we have locked ourselves into.
Every child born is a commitment we need to honour. Our commitment to every child born is to raise her so that she develops into a productive adult that can contribute to the economy. People who are not prepared to honour that commitment should not have children lest the children they bear become mere burdens to the lot already crowding and laying waste to this wretched nation.
So whilst ready-access to contraception (which made direct sense in the context of national poverty) has since been re-branded to “reproductive health” (which muddles the whole point), the true essence of the much-needed social re-engineering effort has gone from the real — stemming the increase in numbers of a people renowned for their inability to feed themselves — to the nebulous — “health, rights, and choices” — after all the emo activists and legislators took it all over and articulated it in their peachy slogans, taglines, and now its ultimate form: the flawed construct we call the “RH Bill”.
And we wonder why Da Pinoy story never gets told — because we are a people who never fail to exhibit our talent for losing the plot.
The whole “debate” around “reproductive health” now misses the point — that we are all personally responsible for our future fortunes. Unfortunately, Filipinos are a people not exactly renowned for a strong ethic of personal responsibility.
It is only when we understand that we are all ultimately personally responsible for our own fortunes that we begin to become aware of how many aspects of our culture contribute to propagating a culture of poverty. We are a society imprisoned in a mindset that is grounded on the notions that we cannot influence our own destinies, that employment is owed to us by Government, and that those who have more have in some way deprived us of opportunity simply by being “more fortunate”. We think that good fortune is granted to us by “God’s graces” and that bad fortune is “God’s will”.
Before there can be “health, rights, and choices” there needs to be enough wealth to underpin all of those. In order to have enough wealth to get around you have to both (1) live within your means and (2) create more wealth to sustain increased consumption. Filipinos have demonstrated a consistent inability to do the latter: create wealth indigenously even in the best of circumstances. Therefore, the choice is clear: Filipinos must live within their means. In the context of population it means that our numbers need to be controlled so that we don’t outstrip our naturally-stunted abilities to feed and employ our lot.
Is it really about “reproductive health”? Think again. History has shown that well-meaning activist rhetoric and, more so, agenda-driven politics does not necessarily equate to the right thinking.