In the continued battle over Obama’s contraception mandate (aka: whiny celibate men complaining about women possibly having sex), it’s easy to forget that we in the States live in a world of implicit permission to have as much protected sex as we’d like.
Yes, the Catholic Church and their lawyers are doing their very best to shoot a select few in the foot over their supposed religious freedom to deny preventative healthcare to others because it’s icky, but with each dismissed court case it becomes apparent that they’re on the losing side of a cultural fight decided without their say (Though one court case has squeaked through for the time being). The tides, they are changing, and they’re bringing in universal contraception for every American citizen. That’s not so much the case for everyone else abroad though.
Via the Wall Street Journal:
Philippines President Benigno Aquino III is facing a test of his policy agenda as lawmakers weigh a controversial reproductive-health bill fiercely opposed by the country’s influential Roman Catholic hierarchy.
Faced with one of the highest birth rates in Asia, a rising maternal death rate and a population boom that threatens to swallow whole the economic goodwill generated by the developing nation’s steady financial growth in recent years, it’s frankly heartening to see a country’s leader so adamant about safeguarding the future of his citizens, especially considering it’s those poorer and less educated who suffer the most from inadequate family planning methods.
Without moral judgment or endorsement, Aqunio’s proposal to increase nationwide access to reproductive health care and comprehensive sex education is one of the more efficient methods to prosperity that a government can offer its citizens. Time and time again, the broken record shows us that people in charge of their reproductive future end up creating a better thought-out one for themselves and their children. A future where, coupled with proper health care and financial opportunities, their lives aren’t entirely at the whim of chance and systemic oppression. Is it the magic bullet for poverty? Not even close, but it is an important step in liberating people from a vicious cycle of social stagnation. And that’s even leaving aside the dozen or so Filipino women a day who might not need to die on a operating table giving birth.
Which I’m guessing is exactly why the Catholic Church sees fit to step in and shut down that idea, champions of the people that they are. Rounding up 10, 000 of his fellow citizens to act against their self-interest in a rally last Saturday to discourage would-be proponents of the bill from passing it through their House of Representatives, the Catholic Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Socrates Villegas, prepared this statement to be read to his parishioners, most of them younger:
My dear youth, contraception is corruption. The use of government and taxpayers’ money to give out contraceptive pills is corruption,
And why is it corruption?
Artificial contraception could open the door for moral infidelity and a general lowering of standard. We your elders do not want you to follow the path to moral corruption,
Hey there Villegas, don’t forget to throw in some blatant lies and medical misinformation.
If a contraceptive pill is to be considered an essential medicine, what sickness is it curing? Is pregnancy a sickness? Why is it that women get sick with cancer after taking the contraceptive pill? My dear youth, contraception, makes healthy people sick,
But don’t you worry kids, old Archie’s got your back.
My dear youth, your birth is not a mistake, your birth was God’s gift to us your elders. You are not the problem, you are our blessing. The problem is the corruption of your elders, your elders must change for your future can be brighter.
Well, bonus points for the hypocrisy of a hardly ever taxed organization explicitly barred from unduly influencing the government (Yes, there’s a separation of church and state over there too,) trying to tell said government what to do with its resources at least.
What really gets my goat though about the position of Villegas and the Church is just how incredibly self-mutilating it ultimately is. Let’s be honest, these are men and women who understand the pain of their poorer parishioners (80% of the country is Catholic), understand the importance of education, healthcare and, most importantly, of hope in the lives of those they claim to be the shepherds of. They’re meant to be the moral guardians of their nation. They’re meant to provide that brighter future to the youth. That’s their damn job. But when faced with a moral imperative from up on high, a moral imperative that interestingly enough never seems to stay the same for all too long, they buckle under pressure and choose the words of a book over the needs of their flock. Because the million different translations of God(s) know best, don’t ya know?
My biggest, biggest, problem with religion, bar none, is the joyful willfulness of pious believers to pick the illusion of morality over the reality of people suffering. Sure, there are dying women in maternity wards, but hey, no corruption pills! Sure, our islands’ resources are only getting stretched thinner and thinner as we struggle to accommodate 6-children families, but at least they’re not doing something unnatural like building stable homes that have children who are wanted and anticipated. Sure, the proliferation of HIV among the youth of our country shows no sign of stopping, but who needs to protect the “blessing” of our nation when GOD? It’s that sort of blinding moral absolution that spurns compromise (Agunio’s RH bill would teach the Church’s natural family planning methods alongside medically sound ones) and throws out the baby with the bath water.
Again, it’s not that our fine bishop here doesn’t care about the people he’s playing moral police to. He absolutely does, but in trying to secure their heavenly salvation, he can’t help but abandon them to the earthly risks of living. And his followers, at least 10,000 strong, can’t help but jump right over the cliff of poverty with him. Faith: Forever turning good men and women into intolerant and fearful keepers of the status quo.
And while religion isn’t the only way people learn to play three blind mice to reality (read: being a GOP supporter or a member of the Ayn Rand book club), it’s sure as hell the most revered and respected of those ways. There’s a timid hesitance to call out the 19th century ideas of the faithful, at the risk of offense or disrespect. But when those ideas actively hurt everyone else around them, when they hold us back, criticism is the very least anyone should be willing to offer.
Whether you’re American or Filipino.