Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Things Never to Say to an RH Advocate

Warning 1: Anything you say can and will be used (against you) in my Codswallop.

Warning 2: If you dislike to be advised to read more, then better steer clear of this Codswallop, as  shall be putting in a lot of links for extra reading. I'm Hermione-ish that way. 

One of my madami-at-malanding selfies for the support of RH

I've been an outspoken advocate for the Reproductive Health Bill (now Law) since 2011. I've fought for it online and in the streets, like others of RH advocates. I've debated with Anti-RH people, converted a few of them, and continued to bust myths about the law until this day (although often I advice people to read so they can understand stuff for themselves). As such, I've heard almost everything - from the smartest arguments against the law, to the stupidest, flippant, most insignificant, stuff by religious fundies or people who open their mouths before actually having read ANYTHING about the law.

Thus, this list.

1. "The RH Law legalizes abortion."

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Section 3 of RA10354 or the Reproductive Health Law. I think this is pretty darn clear. 

2. "Konti lang naman ang namamatay." - Nursing graduate from one of the top 4 universities, talking about maternal mortality rate. 

#slashwrist moment.

Let me give you numbers, kid. In 2009, 1,599 women died due to childbirth-related complications. That's 1,599 families who lost their  "ilaw ng tahana", countless children who have lost their mother, probably more than a thousand husbands who lost their wives. That's not just a number, kid. Those are people, who had lives. The number is less than 1% of the 100 million population we currently have, but to the people who love them, they could mean the world.

Now how would you feel if your mom died because you couldn't afford maternal care and I tell you, "Ok lang yan, isa lang naman siya e."

3. "Kung gusto nila magkant*t#n, e di gumastos sila! Hindi yung pera ng tax payer ang gagamitin nila pambili ng condom." 

This one, I often hear as an argument from a LOT of antis. News flash: the RH Law is not JUST about contraceptives and family planning (which involve natural family planning, by the way.). With all due respect to the sex-obsessed dudes out there, the RH Law is not just about kant*t#n. Here are the elements of the law you might have missed because you were too busy thinking we'd teach kids how to do the doggy. 

"The elements of reproductive health care include the following:
(1) Family planning information and services which shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective cycles to make them aware of when fertilization is highly probable, as well as highly improbable;
(2) Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding;
(3) Proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;
(4) Adolescent and youth reproductive health guidance and counseling;
(5) Prevention, treatment and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs);
(6) Elimination of violence against women and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence;
(7) Education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;
(8) Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders;
(9) Male responsibility and involvement and men’s reproductive health;
(10) Prevention, treatment and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction;
(11) Reproductive health education for the adolescents; and
(12) Mental health aspect of reproductive health care."
This is Section 4, by the way. As you can see, FP is just one of 12 elements of RH. What were you saying about RH = FP again?
4. "Condoms do not prevent HIV. Attitude can."

While it is true that having a safe attitude towards sexual practices, such as abstinence and monogamy, is quite helpful in preventing the spread of HIV, it is not the only way to do so. Anti-condom propaganda, which usually comes from fundies who can't be reminded that even Pope Benedict said condoms are the lesser evil, is being intellectually dishonest when proclaiming that condoms cannot prevent HIV.

Here is what the Center for Disease Control has to say: 

 "Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, consistent and correct use of latex condoms reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including diseases transmitted by genital secretions, and to a lesser degree, genital ulcer diseases. Condom use may reduce the risk for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-associated diseases, e.g., genital warts and cervical cancer."

Here's another: 

"Laboratory studies have demonstrated that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of HIV."

 I fucking love science. 

Here is Le Factsheet.

5. "The RH Law is just another venue for corruption." 

Poster from FB.

This common argument for those who oppose the use of taxes in ensuring that people are given reproductive health information and services. Here is the truth: there is no assurance that the money for the implementation of the RH Law will not be Napoletized, especially with the breed of so-called political leaders we have today. However, I believe that reproductive health is worth this risk. If the government is willing to fund bills on making adobo our national food, malunggay as our national vegetable, renaming public structures such as airports and major highways to political and religious leaders, and other asinine pursuits, I think they - and we, by extension - should be more than willing to use money to ensure that we curb the high maternal mortality rate, cases of teen pregnancy, and new cases of HIV.

If we wish to not pursue the RH Law because the money may be corrupted, then this logic is applicable to ALL kinds of policies, programs, and legislation, not just RH. Thus, if we want to ensure that no corruption will be committed, we either (1) purge the system of the likes of Tanda, Pogi, and Gwapo or (2) cease from pursuing any legislative agenda, policy, or project that would have to make use of the people's money. Which one are those, you ask?

ALL of them.

Number one is much better, I think. 

6. "Teen pregnancy is not the government's problem."

I worked in an NGO for three months, on  project that was supposed to be funded by the PDAF, and as a researcher/assistant writer for our Executive Director for our business plan. Here I am, in all my glory (or the lack thereof) slaving through several webpages and real pages of research, proving to myself that teen pregnancy IS INDEED A PROBLEM and something that the government needs to address.

Make-up-less, sleepless, and love life less. But I did learn a lot of stuff about sex.
Here are some quick facts from NSO, which was presented in the Teen Pregnancy Summit in :

1. In 2010, there were 207,898 live births by teen mothers. 

2. 168 out of 1,719 maternal deaths in 2010 were teenage mothers. 
2. In 2010, 669 out of 8,095 fetal deaths or 8.3% is by teenage mothers. 

if you aren't alarmed by these statistics, then there are others who seem to be in the right state of mind who are. Ultimate Girl Crush Mirian Defensor Santiago, for instance, filed a bill to give further support to projects addressing TP. The National Youth Commission under Commissioner Perci Cendana, is also after the improvement of TP stats. 

Why, you may ask. Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, here are some effects of TP:

1. An adolescent's body is not yet prepared for pregnancy, so carrying a child makes her and the child more at risk for complications - thus fetal and maternal deaths.
2. A teenager has very little financial capacity to raise a family. If college grads in their early twenties have to struggle every day and the pay isn't even enough to start a family, do you think it would be easier for a 14-year old, barely-out-of-high-school girl to financially survive raising a child?
3. Teenage moms who leave school to have their babies usually find it difficult to go back and finish school. A secure financial future would be difficult to achieve as of this point.
4. Because our society overlaps with the Idiot Society, teen mothers are discriminated against.

So I guess teen pregnancy should be a government priority after all. 

7. "The RH law offends my religious beliefs!"

We are a secular country, as stated in the constitution. Legislation should NOT favor your religion. Get over it.

8. "Contraceptives have side effects and risks! We should BAN them."

Safe practice is needed in order to ascertain clients' safety when using medications. Health care professionals are trained (and should be trained) to weigh the pros and the cons of an intervention. 

Reality check: ALL medications have side effects and risks. You just have to flip through MIMS to prove. Shall we ban ALL medications then?

9. "I haven't read the law but I am against it!!!"
That's the problem right there: you make decisions without actually knowing what you are making decisions about. Here is the link to RA10354. Read it, before saying stuff about something you barely have any comprehension of.

10. "The RH Law is unconstitutional."

 Last week, my boss asked me if I wanted to go to Baguio. I was there last March to help set up our company's Baguio branch  by hiring teachers and checking out our new office. It was all work and no play for me, considering that I was alone and I had no idea (and time) to explore the City of Pines. I did buy my mom brocoli and my other loved ones little pasalubong

I realized that I should have went, and maybe stayed an extra couple of days. You see, this week,advocates of the Reproductive Health Law braved the cold winds of Baguio. The Supreme Court finally made the decision that quite literally brought tears to my eyes. Just to remind everyone, here is that decision:

Yeah baby! Let's Purple party! <3 font="">