Last week’s passage on second reading of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill in Congress may be considered miraculous by some, what with it being consigned to the dustbin by lawmakers fearful of incurring the wrath of the Catholic Church.
Though the label miraculous may be blasphemous to those who say and believe that the RH bill is the work of sinful humanity, the fact is that the measure has hurdled the so-called equivalent of “development hell” in the halls of Congress, where proposed legislation is debated endlessly through five or six decades before it is even revived by some eager beaver lawmaker out to make his or her mark in the Batasang Pambansa.
Today or even in the days to come, legislators supporting and opposing the bill will either finalize the bill for submission and reconciliation with the Senate or consign it yet again to the back burner where it will gather dust until some enterprising lawmaker salvages the measure and maybe improve on it.
But one thing’s for sure, the Palace has now taken notice of the RH bill debate and has played its hand with its top occupant saying that the bill should be certified “urgent” by Congress.
President Benigno Aquino III’s move has drawn flak from ardent RH opponents like Sen. Tito Sotto III who questioned why the divisive RH bill is being prioritized by the administration over some other pertinent legislation like the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
Sotto’s comment was no less laughable considering that he assumed the onus of public outrage for his underhanded inclusion of the online libel provision and the takedown clause in the anti-cybercrime law.
Yet another condemnation came from Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, who equated last Saturday’s massacre of 20 children in the US state of Connecticut with the “Herodian gift” that is the RH bill which he claimed would be tantamount to killing 20 million “unborn babies” with a stroke of a pen should President Aquino sign it into law.
The analogy between King Herod’s order to massacre the children of Israel, the Connecticut killing spree and the RH bill signing may be too far out for those RH bill proponents and even those outside of the Catholic Church who believe the bill doesn’t institutionalize abortion as a family planning method but rather provides women and couples with the means to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
But the Church thought it important enough as evidenced by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal’s homily to kick off the nine-day Misa de Gallo to speak out against the looming approval of the RH bill and how they will not let it stand.
At the end of the day, it is the Filipino people themselves and not the Church who will decide whether or not the law is good for them.