Dishonest, mediocre, anti-poor
BY ISSUING a statement supporting the population-control bill, Reproductive Health (RH) Bill 5043, the 14 faculty members of the other Catholic university—Ateneo de Manila– betray the canker that may eat into any Catholic institution that, while inherently holy, has tendencies toward evil. Star Wars calls it the Dark Side, St. Thomas Aquinas calls it concupiscence. We simply call it intellectual dishonesty.
Since they teach in a Catholic institution, the 14 should either have the readiness to defend the Catholic position or at least have the sensitivity to refrain from doing something that would divide the Church. But not only do these self-proclaimed Catholic educators break away from the Catholic position and urge Catholics to do so: they twist Catholic teachings to suit their self-serving position.
Their distortions of the Catholic teachings on freedom of conscience and the centrality of the human person are shocking. If these teachers indeed have conscience, as they claim to be practicing in disagreeing with the bishops, it will be what the catechism calls as erroneous conscience. And what centrality of the human person are they talking about when RH bill 5043 seeks to make available contraceptives and abortifacients and pave the way for legalizing abortion by the use of millions of pesos that could otherwise go to direct provisions for maternal health and poverty? Population-control measures like RH bill 5043 look at the poor not as persons but as rabbits whose propagation must be checked. How could the poor have freedom of choice and conscience when the state, backed by hundreds of millions of pesos, compels them to take contraceptives and limit their children to two per couple? Were the Filipino poor neutered by the Marcos dictatorship and the Chinese families forced into complying with the one-child rule by the communists allowed freedoms of information, choice and conscience?
Even more shocking is the academic mediocrity of the professors. Their support for the population-control bill is backed by the intellectual school of doomsday social science, whose methods and claims have been questioned by more cautious, less panic-prone, and more socially responsible schools. A cursory review of the endnotes of their statement would reveal that their review of literature is narrow and shallow. It is as if social science had stopped with Malthus and Ehrlich.
They claim, for instance, that “a close association exists between our country’s chronic poverty and rapid population growth… [thus] curbing out population growth rate is a requisite of sound economic policy and effective poverty reduction strategy,” and that the bill aims to control population growth to arrive at a so-called “healthy” economy.
Their statement should at least belie Rep. Edsel Lagman’s claim that RH bill 5043 is a “healthcare” bill; it is not, it’s a population-control measure that harks back to the days of the dictator Marcos who enshrined family planning in the 1973 Constitution and made it a centerpiece of his “constitutional authoritarianism.”
But going back to the claim of the 14 doomsday pundits that there’s correlation between “chronic poverty” and population growth, it’s astonishing that a claim should be made when most recent literature have shown there’s none. Despite being in the academe, they have missed – or intentionally excluded? – important and authoritative studies on population and poverty that deny any link between the two.
The New York Times, Asiaweek, Far Eastern Economic Review, and Economist have declared overpopulation as among of the greatest hoaxes of the last century. Nobel-winning economists themselves such as Simon Kuznets have denied any negative correlation between population and economic growth. Meanwhile, Amartya Sen and Gary Becker have recommended that funds for birth control would be better used in directly addressing poverty.
But after repeating the tired litany of doomsday population economics, the 14 Horsemen of the Apocalypse just as casually turn to the alleged health benefits of a birth-control program for women, even if not a single one of them has a medical degree or any diploma remotely connected to the health sciences.
But the doctors, nurses and health professionals of UST, Human Life International-Asia, and Pro-Life Philippines know better. Pre- and post-natal care for women has nothing to do with contraceptives and abortion. Medical science can deal with pregnancy complications. If there’s high maternal and infant mortality, it is not because of unwanted pregnancy or pregnancy complications: it is because of the lack of health services. In the same manner, while many Filipinos die of TB and dengue, the public health budgets for combating these diseases are low compared to the tens of millions used for birth control, which basically looks at babies as diseases that need to be checked, contracepted, aborted.
Moreover, it does not follow that readily available contraceptives can improve the health of the people. Health experts say that pills, injectables, abortion suction, menstrual regulation machines, ligation, and vasectomy are in fact risky and could result in injuries, sickness, and even death.
It must be emphasized that “reproductive health” is not maternal health, which is the more embracing, the more medically correct concept to represent the holistic health care of women. RH bill 5043 is not a maternal health measure but a contraceptive measure: it looks at every pregnancy as “unwanted”; it looks at pregnancy as the cause and a compounding of poverty; it tries to check the fertility of women not because of any consideration for women’s health but for purposes of social engineering!
Nor is the bill “pro-youth” for providing sex education to young people, as the 14 Wolf-criers claim. It would merely increase the chances of the youth engaging in the risky and reckless behavior that safe sex engenders.
Admittedly, information is the right of everyone. But could we expect quality and correct information and instruction from a government whose public education system are a shambles and whose health services are a disaster—and information and instruction for young people during their formative years? Moreover, since the paradigm and ideology of the bill itself are suspect, the course content of any instruction it seeks to provide is also suspect.
Leave sex education to the parents. They may not do a good job at it, but that’s all right since the state can’t seem to get anything right at all!
Ah, but RH bill 5043 insists it promotes contraception to stop abortion. This is a bald-faced lie when one considers that most of the backers and their funders are pro-choice (read: pro-abortion). One of the signatories of the statement, Mary Racelis, claims in one article that “educated Catholics” should support the bill because it would curb abortions. She cites the “473,000” induced abortions allegedly performed in 2000 without even questioning the veracity of the figure. Worse, she cites the World Health Organization estimate that the abortions could have been double that figure—800,000 abortions!–without questioning how the UN body could have made such an extrapolation.
Any social scientist worth his salt or any Filipino with a modicum of education would easily make educated questions about such figures, considering that previous demographic estimates made in the name of birth control and safe sex have been widely off the mark, such as Thomas Malthus’s doomsday scenario in the 19th century of an overpopulated earth in the next century (“a libel inflicted on the human race,” said Karl Marx); Paul Ehrlich’s similar scenario in 1980 at the turn of the 21st century (he lost the wager with Julian Simon 10 years later, remember?); the projection by UN agencies and Philippine public health authorities in the early 1990’s that the Philippines would have some 10,000 HIV-Aids cases in 10 years because of low condom use (the country has only 3,000 now); the claim of gays they easily comprise 10% of the population (a projection exposed as limp); and the fantastic claim of the UN Fund for Population Assistance and the 1994 Cairo Conference that the “costed population package” to implement so-called reproductive health care services in developing countries by 2015 would total $77.7 billion with domestic contributions from the poor countries themselves who are supposedly beneficiaries of such services funding two-thirds of the cost!
Racelis and her fellow Ateneo divination experts should ask whether or not the same alarmist situation conjured by the UNFPA and Cairo is being used by the WHO, UNFPA and backers (or true authors?) of the Lagman bill to justify the initial tab to implement the RH bill—some P1.2 billion!
The 14 themselves belong to an institution that has no apprehensions in getting funding from organizations that promote abortion. Together with the Packard Foundation, which promotes “safe and legal abortion” in other countries, Ateneo has put up the Health Unit—Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Leadership Innovations in Population Management. One wonders how Ateneo’s partnership with an abortion foundation dovetails with its setting up a medical school where students are supposed to make the Hippocratic Oath and uphold Catholic bioethics.
And the Ateneo Institute of Church and Social Studies has published a monograph with articles by social scientists from Ateneo and birth-control demographers from UP and other secular institutes (whose studies are cited by the Ateneo 14) that basically back the Lagman bill. The publication and the discussions were funded by a pro-choice organization.
In all of these cozy and cash-rich sleeping-with-the-enemy arrangements, Ateneo’s jesuitic nature seems to be showing indeed.
In any case, by equating women’s health with birth control, the 14 Grim Reapers betray their enslavement to the population ideology of the UN and its agencies and the population-control industry. They betray at least their academic mediocrity—perhaps ingrained by their arrogance—for not considering very relevant and trenchant studies that question the blurring between development and population funding.
The Ateneo professors should at least stop calling themselves “Catholic educators” or “educated Catholics.” For a truly educated Catholic view on population control, here’s the view of Cecilia Hadley and Maria Sophia Aguirre of the Department of Business and Economics of the Catholic University of America as published in the International Journal of Social Economics (2005 Vol. 32, Issue 9):
“During the last decade increasingly large amounts of money have been spent on limiting population growth of underdeveloped countries. Population control is seen as the corner-stone of development and population activities. Thus, population control has become ‘population assistance,’ and birth control has become ‘reproductive health services.’ Population control is pursued at the expense of women’s rights and to the detriment of real economic growth and social improvement.”
“Rather than helping countries and peoples, the continual focus on population assistance has left them desperate for other forms of aid. This focus has actually infringed upon human rights especially upon many women who do not understand the contraceptives they are being given. The large amounts of funds that developing countries are now exhorted to provide for support population measures drain resources better spent elsewhere on such things as reducing malaria and educating women. In short, ‘population assistance’ has usurped a great deal of the energy and funds of the international community without even empirical justification for such an approach to development issues and has resulted in a neglect for other areas of real need.”
We enjoin Thomasians, Ateneans, and all Catholics to be truly themselves—discerning and critical of issues, always seeking the light amid the darkness foisted on them by shadowy figures that include those who call themselves Catholics, educated, and educators. Let us all fight the grand deception of the population-control complex and reject RH bill 5043.