DUCKY PAREDES: OUR CHILDREN AND THE POPULATION

MANILA,
AUGUST 16, 2012 (MALAYA) Written by DUCKY PAREDES (‘Drug companies now have superior, improved pharmacology resulting in a safer, more effective pill since half a century ago.’ )

I HAVE four children. The first was Oona, our only girl; three years later came Andy and 13 months after, Mikey. Danny arrived seven years later.

Of course, the perceptive reader will surmise that we used contraceptive pills, but, unlike what is being played up in our Senate (from the experiences of blue babies occurring for Senators Tito Sotto and Lito Lapid), we never had blue babies or any other child-bearing problems.

As Senator Pia Cayetano has decided for herself in judging medical histories, I would also go with scientific fact and explanations rather than blaming pills or other devices for childbearing misfortunes. This is not to say that the drug companies are totally blameless.

The time that we had our children was also when the world was shocked with the discovery that certain chemicals thought to be safe gave the world the Thalidomide babies born with no feet or arms and sometimes even without both essential appendages. Thalidomide, by the way, is not a contraceptive, but a sleeping pill, and was dispensed with a warning that pregnant mothers should not use it.

Thus, while pills in the time that our babies were conceived may not have had zero defects, one also clearly remembers that these had warnings and caveats on their packaging. Thus, even if the doctors prescribing them did not give ample warnings, reading the literature listing health conditions and practices that made these pills toxic was enough to stop a careful user from taking them. These were explicit warnings against using these pills with other specific drugs, alcohol and other substances.

But that was years ago; and, one presumes that the drug companies (having experimented on our generation the earlier pills for contraception) now have superior, improved pharmacology resulting in a safer, more effective pill since half a century ago.

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Health Secretary Enrique Ona (a member of my Rotary club -- RC Pasig. District 3800) says that the enactment of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill is a precursor to the universal health care program of the Aquino administration. Health Secretary Enrique Ona in effect passed the ball to Congress on whether or not Filipinos are provided with basic health services.

Dr. Ona identified the RH bill as one of five needed to complete the government’s healthcare services for all by the end of 2016. The others include: sin taxes (upgraded taxes for tobacco and alcohol), amendments to the National Health Insurance Act, laws for corporate governance of hospitals, amendments to midwife and nursing laws.

Dr. Ona said: “I believe that these legislations should be a priority for the universal healthcare program.”

What House Bill 4244 or the “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011” mandates is that the government provide natural and artificial methods of family planning including condoms, intrauterine devices and pills.

This provision for the state providing condoms, intrauterine devices and pills is the one that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) objects to on grounds that the use of these devices and pills is not acceptable to their religion.

This, despite the clear provision in our Constitution (Article II, Section 6) that states: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

In the ongoing debate on whether or not to pass the proposed legislation, the debate is not whether one is pro or anti-choice. In our country, where most of the unplanned and even unwanted pregnancies occur among the very poor, if government does not provide these means of legal contraception, then, they are not available to most of our population who are mostly poor.

They do not even know that these safe pills and devices even exist and these would be affordable to them only if these were available for free from government clinics and hospitals. Having these available also gives our doctors the means to assure that mothers can space their children for healthier pregnancies, child-bearing and actual births.

Our present statistics on the number of women who die from childbirth are unacceptable. This would improve if these mothers were given the means and the knowledge necessary to space their children.

We also have the problem of unplanned and even unwanted children even among very young women who are not given the knowledge about their bodies that they need to understand how children are created and are born.

I am for the RH Bill and feel that I have to be. After all, we did use the pill to space our four children. If this was good enough for us, why should I now shift to the side of the moralists who would deprive our poor women who, from being poor (and being kept ignorant), do not have the means or the knowledge needed to take control over their own bodies?

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“Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is solu­ble by means we have discovered and with resources we posses. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but uni­versal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victim.” -- Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader and Nobel laureate

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“Once it was necessary that the people should multiply and be fruitful if the race was to survive. But now to preserve the race it is necessary that people hold back the power of propagation.” – Helen Keller, world-renowned deaf and blind author and lecturer

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“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?” -- Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, Emeritus Pro­fessor of Physics, University of Colorado; World Population Bal­ance Board of Advisors

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“Which is the greater danger - nuclear warfare or the popula­tion explosion? The latter abso­lutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to DO something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by over­crowding, mass starvation, anar­chy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes natu­rally - and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing.” -- Dr. Isaac Asimov, biochemist and science writer (in this 1966 interview he predicted that world population would reach 6 billion around 2000. Most leaders dismissed his prediction as outrageous. Popula­tion passed 6 billion in 1999.)


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