I have been following the case of Carlos Celdran the past few days with great interest, even joining Facebook groups to engage everyone to a sort of debate. I have never been as passionate in defending the pro-life cause up until now when a man clad in Rizal outfit protested and rudely interrupted an ongoing ecumenical worship service inside Manila Cathedral. I believe he did it with outmost malice and premeditation in order to get some attention that he would not possibly get if he just protested outside the church. His theatrical stunt did indeed get him the media attention he was craving for especially when he was sent to prison. Some commenters on FB even touted him as the new Jose Rizal; I thought otherwise. After showing his audacious irreverence and scandalous ploy inside Manila Cathedral, he just earned the right to become the next poster boy for "Boy Bastos." And to complete his Rizalist antic, it would be nice to see him executed in Luneta Park through a firing squad by the 'guardia civil' in Intramuros. That would land him front page news in international media for sure. Okay enough of the rant. Let's get down to the real issue. The RH bill must be aborted.
Abortion and Contraception - Fruits of the Same Tree
I am posting here some statements by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life regarding this issue.
Sex is an extremely powerful force, and never a neutral one. Either it serves life, or it serves death. Its fruit can be the highest joy of earth, bringing forth new life in the embrace of self-giving, or else its fruit can be violent and destructive activity, ruining and ending the lives of others or oneself.
Society is not obsessed with sex. It is afraid of it…afraid of the total reality and power of what it represents, where it comes from, and where it leads. Sex properly understood requires that we acknowledge God who made it. More than that, sex can never be separated from its purpose: to insert us into an immense, powerful movement of life and love that started when God said "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3) and culminates when the Spirit and the Bride say "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:17).
Sex is deeply symbolic. It is a language that speaks of things beyond sight and feeling. Many think of the Church's teaching about sex as "You cannot do it except in marriage and when open to life." That is true, but the fuller understanding of why this is true comes when we can see that sexual activity means so much that it is wrong to diminish its message or deny its full reality. It belongs in the context of committed love (sealed by marriage) and openness to life precisely because this is the only context great enough to hold its message and reflect the greater reality to which the gift of sexuality directs and commits us. The teaching is not just that it is wrong to have sex in certain circumstances. The teaching is that it is wrong to run away from the full reality of sex. It is wrong to think we have the kind of control that can change that reality to suit ourselves.
The most bitter fruit of this flight from the full meaning of sex is abortion. Thousands of lives a day in our nation are deliberately killed in order to control who will be born and when. They are even destroyed in the very process of being born. If we ask why abortion happens, or how we arrived at the culture of death, we would do well to consider another question: What happens when you distort the meaning of sex?
One of the many ways in which the meaning of sex is distorted is through contraception, which is an intrinsically evil act. The links between abortion and contraception are more and more widely recognized, and not only in Catholic circles.
They are linked by a common mentality, which is that I may stifle the power of sex to produce a new life. Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical The Gospel of Life, " It is frequently asserted that contraception, if made safe and available to all, is the most effective remedy against abortion. The Catholic Church is then accused of actually promoting abortion, because she obstinately continues to teach the moral unlawfulness of contraception. When looked at carefully, this objection is clearly unfounded. It may be that many people use contraception with a view to excluding the subsequent temptation of abortion. But the negative values inherent in the "contraceptive mentality"—which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act—are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro- abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected" (n. 13).
They are linked sociologically. Every culture and subculture which has opened the doors to contraception has likewise experienced an increased practice of abortion. The Alan Guttmacher Institute indicates the following as the main reasons women offer for their abortions. Ask yourself what resemblance they bear to the reasons for birth control. " On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner" (from the website www.agi-usa.org).
They are linked in law and jurisprudence. In 1973, the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion clearly built upon the recognized privacy right behind contraception. In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe in its Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision, and explained that they could not remove the "right" to abortion from "people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail" (505 U.S. 833, 835).
They are sometimes linked by being identical. Some "contraceptives" have a backup mechanism whereby a newly-developing life may be destroyed in its microscopic stages. These drugs and devices are abortifacients, capable of causing early and usually unknown abortions. The morally relevant point here is that "it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder" (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 1974, n.12-13). If your action might kill a person, and you do it, you declare your willingness to kill a person (like shooting at what is behind the bush when you are uncertain whether it is a bear or a man).
The nature of the link between abortion and contraception needs to be accurately understood. The Pope writes, "Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion are specifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment "You shall not kill". But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree" (n. 13).
"Fruits of the same tree." Contraception, in other words, is more like the sister to abortion rather than the parent. What gives rise to them both? The Pope continues, "Such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment" (n. 13). Dr. Bernard Nathanson, when asked whether contraception was "the beginning of the downfall of the issues of reproduction in this country," said that "contraception was not the fount…that spawned all of these other horrendous technologies...it was the perversion of autonomy…If you elevate autonomy to a deification status…then people are going to make choices which are irrational…" (Presentation to 1999 Legatus National Conference).
Yes, abortion and contraception are linked. They are linked with each other because they are linked with many other evils: the disconnection of freedom from truth, a relativistic view of morality, a positivistic view of law, a culture of hedonism, and many other problems.
What lies at the solution to these problems is to rediscover the dominion of God.
It is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge that there are circumstances in which a couple should not have a child. There can be medical, social, financial, psychological, or other reasons for this. To acknowledge God’s dominion does not mean to act imprudently. Methods of natural family planning are legitimate. (We are not referring here to outdated calendar rhythm methods, but to modern methods such as those made possible by naprotechnology.) In planning one’s family, however, one may never destroy the meaning of sexual union on one’s own initiative. Natural family planning respects the body's cycles, during portions of which God closes the door to life. In contraception, we close the door. We have no authority to do so.
There are two basic truths that each person has to admit in this life: 1.) There is a God. 2.) It isn’t me. To understand these lessons is to understand why both contraception and abortion are wrong. Only God has absolute dominion over human life. "None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as His servants. Both in life and in death, we are the Lord's" (Rom.14:7-8).
You may also want to read the commentaries of fellow Pinoy bloggers like Filipino eScribbles and With One's Past.
This article by Fr. Frank summarizes the core issues surrounding the RH bill. I have read posts after posts bashing the Catholic hierarchy and the Church, making unfair accusations and throwing 'outdated' arguments circa 1898. All that people notice are the buzz, the hype, and the noise. The substance is totally neglected. I dare say that a great majority do not have at least the basic understanding of the issue from the proper perspective, hence their misguided opinions about the matter. Stop accusing the Church of meddling with politics because it could be the other way around - the government meddling with church matters. The Church will always defend what she believes is right because it is her sacred duty and she is free to do so.
I do not claim expertise on the pro-life issue, just the very basics perhaps - the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, the sacredness and purpose of the marital sexual act, abortion as a very grievous offense against life, and the intrinsic evil of contraception. These are the firm foundations on which I base my opinions. I have not even mentioned scientific studies and evidences supporting the cause of the pro-life movement in case someone is going to accuse me of being too 'religiously inclined' in my dispositions. Well, I still need to do a LOT of reading about this subject matter. In the end, the challenge to all God-fearing people is to respect life irrespective of religious beliefs and practices and for Christians specifically to give witness to the One who said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE."