After debating the RH Bill for about four years now, I think I can honestly say that I have probably heard every single argument, both good and bad, that exist for and against the bill. I’ve heard arguments that rely on principle, and arguments that rely on pragmatic effects. Both sides have their points. Both sides have their fair share of great arguments and terrible ones. It doesn’t matter if we Catholics are on the opposing side; our religious affiliation does not make our stand any less valid. But what all this has taught me, above all else, is that in the end, the side you choose boils down to a matter of principle.
I’d like to think that while reason does play a significant role in the crafting of good arguments, when you’ve heard them all, it really doesn’t matter. What matters more, I have learned, is what principles you hold to be in higher value–whether those be the ones upheld by the proponents or the opponents of the bill. Ultimately, that is what decides which side you take. An argument can be flawlessly constructed; but if you don’t buy the principle that it attempts to forward, then it really won’t matter.
People often ask me what the single strongest argument against the RH Bill is. I don’t really know what to tell them. The reason I think that is so because I doubt there is even such thing as a “strongest argument”. There are only arguments that make sense to you, and arguments that don’t. Recently, however, as I was contemplating the principle of principles, it occurred me that the strongest argument to me wasn’t so much an argument, but rather a personal principle.
I believe that it is fundamentally wrong for the State to blame the poor for having too many children as the cause of poverty to cover up for their own failures as a government to respond to those needs. Simply put, if a family of six can’t afford to feed themselves because the parents were not able to get a job, I don’t think it’s the fault of the parents for having too many kids, but rather the fault of the government for not being able to give the proper opportunities to them. I’m not saying that governments must be perfect; but when you consider the endemic corruption in the Philippines, I think we would be letting the government off too easy by letting them point their fingers at the poor.
The RH Bill is no longer a debate about just facts or arguments. It has evolved into a clash of principles. What do you hold to be more important– economic growth or demographic stabilization? Band-aid solution or sustainable development? Are you willing to risk risk compensation with contraceptive use? Are you amenable to offering dangerous substances as solutions? Are you willing to go through an economic high if it means that someday we’ll be begging for people to have children? When women die of birth complications, is preventing them from getting pregnant the real solution? Is choice an end in itself?
Ultimately, it’s no longer about the arguments. It’s become a matter of principle.