Monday, January 16, 2012

Coercion and the RH Bill :The State and RH Indoctrination

You have probably heard the RH supporters’ claims that the RH bill will give “informed choice” to the public, that it is for “women’s health” and for “obstetric care”. However behind this benign rhetoric is the heavy hand of the State in RH indoctrination. Section 16 is all about mandatory sex education for ALL students (both private or public schools, regardless of religious affiliation) – from grade 5 to 4th year high school.  Section 24 ensures a nationwide  RH “mass indoctrination” by “a heightened nationwide multi-media campaign to raise the level of public awareness of the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights including family planning and population and development.” Far from offering the public informed choice, it actually sets up an RH indoctrination platform, where no one is allowed to express disagreement nor speak their opinions on the intent of the bill under pain of imprisonment.

You see, the RH bill is coercive. Why is it coercive? It punishes those who object to its provisions. It punishes those who will teach something different from its provisions.

How can it be coercive? Look at Section 28, “Prohibited Acts”

1.       The RH bill punishes local government officials, regardless of their religious beliefs, budgets, and provinces’ health needs, if they do not implement the RH bill in their local government unit.
2.       The RH bill punishes health professionals who withhold information on RH services, and it especially targets those who will do so because of religious convictions. If a pro-life, Catholic nurse or obstetrician chooses to only teach natural family planning to a patient, it is her right to do so and no law should force her to recommend artificial contraception.
3.       The RH bill punishes health professionals who refuse to give RH services. And the religious objectors are required to refer. Why should someone who is objecting be forced to refer , against his own conscience, by a law?
4.       The RH bill punishes anyone who “will engage in malicious disinformation”  about the intents and provisions of the bill. The RH bill dissenters who have different opinions than those who crafted the RH bill are the targets here. Obviously, it will not apply to RH supporters and advocates.

Besides, who determines what it the  “correct” information and what is “incorrect” (to determine what is“disinformation”)? The RH sponsors, lobbyists, advocates and their resource persons. YET, in the present RH bill debates in Congress and the social media, RH bill advocates, lobbyists, supporters are ALREADY denying RECENT(dated May 2011) unbiased evidence-based scientific information (from the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer , no less) that states that “combined oral contraceptives are group 1 CARCINOGENS” and that “there is SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE on the carcinogenicity of combined oral contraceptives”. If these people who wrote the RH bill and are lobbying for it are denying medical facts NOW, how can they be trusted to determine correct information?  Medical science is ever-changing, and new researches reveal causes, effects and correlations that were not known before. In this example, carcinogenicity of combined oral contraceptives is established by new findings. How can a proposed law punish “disinformation”, in the ever-changing  field of medical science?

Moreover, RH advocates are also denying basic scientific facts like the beginning of life. From high school we are taught that a new human life begins at fertilization, at the moment of zygote formation. We have RH advocates who call the unborn as “not human” or “not persons”  and those who arbitrarily, but absurdly, move the beginning of life from the moment of fertilization to implantation. With these absurd unscientific assertions of RH advocates, how can the RH bill determine what is “incorrect” or what is “disinformation” when they themselves deny plain-as-day scientific facts and findings?
To be truly fair, RH advocates denying scientific facts and downplaying cancer risks from oral contraceptives must also be punished because these are all medical disinformation. But if it is ONLY these RH consultants/advocates who will determine what is “correct”, then ONLY pro-life advocates will be punished. This is highly discriminatory and truly biased.

The RH bill is like a giant indoctrination and coercion machine. It violates the principles of free speech, and the freedom to practice one’s religion. These are just more reasons to say NO to the RH bill.