The Reproductive Health Bill

This is the story of the controversial bill, which provides for universal access to information to empower women to take charge of their reproductive health. It covers provisions to arm women with information on family planning, sexual health, and providing sex education for teens, among other things.

This bill is being opposed by the Catholic Church with the presupposition that providing universal information to people will further encourage church-prohibited acts, i.e. pre-marital sex. And heaven forbid, sex (among married couples) for pleasure rather than procreation.

This (to me) is just another indication of how outdated the Catholic Church is on their policies and restrictions. While their role is to supposedly safeguard the spiritual growth of its constituents, they do so in context of old beliefs and a time long ago when the world was simpler.

The world today is so different from the world as it used to be.

This is not to say that the Church should relax its standards on morals and personal values. But would it be such a bad thing to adjust their principles and beliefs on the basis of what is more real to the world today?

To put it plainly and simply…

Teens today are having pre-marital sex. They will keep having pre-marital sex, whether we like it or not. Teens today, compared to teens during my time (I was born in the mid-70s), engage not only in pre-marital sex… but even casual sex.

Personally, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the emerging lifestyle of the generations after mine.

Nowadays, I see the younger girls in my office going on a night out with skirts shorter than my shortest pair of shorts… matched with 4-inch heels and heavy make-up (and these are girls in their 20s, they aren’t 14). I jokingly tell them “if I were your mother, I wouldn’t let you out of the house dressed in that.” — and coming from me, that’s a lot. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a prude. I used to wear skimpy clothes too in my younger years… but compared to my standards of “skimpy” back then, my outfits in my younger years were still conservative compared to today’s standards.

A few weeks ago, I watched a feature on TV about this. It was an investigative show that studied the behavior and attitude of teens regarding sex today.

In the show, a young teen couple was featured. They were both 14 years old and had been dating for just a few months. At 14 years old and just a few months into their “steady relationship”, they were already sexually active.

The show also featured anonymous interviews with teen girls and boys who had multiple sex partners. And if that’s not enough, casual sex is something they don’t hesitate to engage in as well. Their motivation? Because it’s “what’s in today”. It’s what “most of my friends do”. Most of them don’t take precautions because they don’t think they need it.

It’s a far cry from my teenage years.

In fact, I remember being 21 years old, a fresh grad from College in genuine shock when I found out some my closest girl friends lost their virginity when they were still in College. At that age, the thought was unthinkable for me to even think about risking having sex when I was still a student. At the very least, I knew enough to wait until I was old enough to support myself if a bundle of joy and diapers suddenly emerged from an intimate encounter.

If the thought of boys and girls whom I knew engaging in sex at 18, 19 years old already shocked me… imagine my greater shock contemplating the thought of 14-year old girls just casually having casual sex!

So yes, I too am affected by the drastic change in society today.

And that’s why (it’s no shock)…. I am fully supportive of the Reproductive Health Bill.

Frankly, I think most kids are not aware of the repercussions of their actions. Some kids still think having sex just once can’t get a girl pregnant. Some kids don’t even think about sexually transmitted diseases, nor consider the possibility that it could happen to them.

So providing universal information, while it would not encourage complete abstinence, would at least arm them with the information to take precautions. The best thing we can even hope for… is that a handful of kids are actually brought to their senses and decide to stop whatever they’re doing (or planning to do), being mindful now of the repercussions of their actions.

And then, there are also those adult couples who have no current access to information. The married ones who don’t exercise family planning, so they end up with 5, 10 kids to feed. Sadly, most of them live within the poverty line who can’t even feed themselves three full meals a day. A little information and access to counseling and family planning methods would greatly them.

Now, with all of this… here’s what I’m wondering.

While I know that they have an obligation to safeguard the country’s spiritual growth… doesn’t the Church also have the obligation to confront and address the world in context of what it is today, and to provide moral and spiritual guidance in context of all of this?

To stop the Reproductive Health Bill will not stop young people or married couples from having sex. If  parents can’t even stop their own kids, how can the Catholic Church expect to stop millions of young people from doing what they want to do simply because they say so?

Perhaps they are hoping that by overtly opposing  this bill they are able to take a solid moral stand… but in context of this bill, that’s just like… well, it’s like doing nothing.

Its almost like just letting teen pregnancies continue. Allowing poor families to keep having more and more kids, more kids whom parents can’t even feed nor send to school properly. Allowing young men and women to acquire sexually transmitted diseases… sometimes potentially fatal diseases.

It’s mind-boggling.

This is just another one of the many reasons why I’ve felt so disconnected to this same religion that was instilled in me since I was a little girl. As an adult, going to Church would always remind me that there’s a vengeful, judgmental God who frowns down on me and all my sins and imperfections. The priests in homilies made sure we always kept that in mind. They talk down on their parishioners and preach endlessly about dogmatic issues that we must strictly follow, or else suffer the fires of hell.

This works in a black and white world. But we all exist, all of us, in shades of gray where morality is ambiguous at best. So tell me. In a world of gray, where does the Reproductive Health Bill stand?

Oh, by the way, there are also a lot of civil rights and church-activist groups opposing this bill. The only thing I can say there is — if you can propose a better solution to protect people from the repercussions of irresponsible sex (when you all know deep in your hearts that this will keep happening no matter what anyone says or does), then by all means, do share.

Reproductive Health Bill Resources: The Reproductive Health Bill, Wiki’s simplified definition.