CEBU City, Nov. 17, 2011—Legislation that promotes reproductive health (RH) is not about recognizing the rights of women and of couples but about giving the State powers beyond its jurisdiction, said former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad at the National “Philippines for Life” Congress in Cebu City.
“It was never the purpose to give women and men [the right to use contraception and avail of sterilization,] a ‘right’ they already have. The real purpose of the [RH] bill has always been what is written in the bill now, namely, to give the State a power, a right, and a duty it does not have – namely, to require married couples to practice birth control as a necessary precondition and an essential component of marriage,” Tatad asserted, starting off the three-day event with a rousing message on the most vital issue about the pro-life crusade.
Tatad pointed out that intimate matters between spouses cannot be made the subject of legislation, as “the right and duty to procreate is not conferred by law or local ordinance upon the citizens of a town, a city or a state. It belongs to our nature, bestowed upon us by God. It belongs to every man as man, even before he becomes a citizen, or even if he does not get to become a citizen at all.”
“It precedes the existence of the State, and is not subject to the approval or disapproval of the local Sanggunian, Congress or the President. It is not and cannot be made the subject of any statute passed by even all of the members of Congress,” Tatad further explained, adding that it is “the most important point that must be very clear to us, so we can communicate it to [the people on] the other side.”
He enjoined the more than 200 attendees at the event organized by Human Life International (HLI) Pilipinas to help make “our pro-RH friends in Congress” understand that there are “certain areas of human activity where the State may not intrude. The intimate union between man and wife is one such activity, and everything else that naturally flows from it.”
“This is so clear to anyone who knows the distinction between man and God, between the creature and his Creator, that no responsible government has found it necessary to put this down in any legal or constitutional document. It is a meta legal right, something written in our very nature as men and women, as fundamental and inviolable as our right to breathe,” he said.
‘Illusion of choice’
While the RH bill’s proponents have been claiming that their aim in crafting the measure is to give women and couples the chance to make their own choices as regards family planning, Tatad revealed how the bill gives the illusion that it gives people the power to choose what family planning methods to use.
While the bill mentions natural family planning as an option, “nothing is said about how the government will promote natural family planning, and make sure those who need it would get it. In contrast, the bill is a virtual manual on how contraceptives and sterilization agents are to be distributed by clinics and hospitals as essential medicines.”
“It’s not just you are given a bogus choice,” the former senator continued. “The graver offense is that while you are given the illusion of choosing what contraceptives to use, the decision that you must use contraceptives in one form or another has already been made for you by the authors of the bill, claiming to speak for the State, but in violation of the Constitutional duties of the State.”
The “Philippines for Life” congress, focused on the theme “Surrender is not an option, compromise is not the solution,” aptly described what ought to be the mindset of every pro-life crusader, according to Tatad.
“It is the only correct position to take. That is to say, if we truly believe the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family is worth fighting for; or even dying for,” he stressed.
The HLI event on its first day also featured Msgr. Cris E. Garcia, SAP, H.P., Chair of the Cebu Archdiocesan Committee on Liturgy and Worship and Rev. Fr. Ervy Davy Lajarra, HLI-Asia & Oceania Spiritual Director.
Capping the afternoon of thought-provoking talks was a Holy Mass celebrated by Cebu Archbishop and incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, DD. (CBCP for Life)