Note from the Editor: Christine Sicwaten is one of UniPro's interns for the summer. At our recent staff meeting, she delivered a speech on the "UniIssue" of Abortion in the Philippines. Read on to see her thoughtful take on the controversial topic. by Christine Sicwaten
Choices. I don’t know about you but I love having the ability to choose. From the having the choice of what profession I want to work in to something as simple as wearing what I want to wear. Choices.
Without choices our freedoms are limited. Living in the United States gives us liberties that we often take for granted. Within the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights alone we have the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Although we live in the 21st century there are still several countries who do not protect even half of the rights that I have previously stated.
For 14 years the Catholic Church has been fighting “The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act” otherwise known as the RH Bill. The RH Bill requires that not only sex education be taught but that public health workers receive training in family planning and that post abortion medical care is legalized.
Contraception, family planning, and sex education in general are not widely discussed in schools or the public. In the Philippines it is not as if using contraceptives is banned, it is merely unaffordable to many. With 30% of the population living below the poverty line and a 100 million people living on 62 cents a day, pesos go to buying the necessities such as food and clothing, not condoms.
The Church has centered this bill around religion when in reality it is about human rights, health and sustainable human development. The Philippines has one of the fastest growing populations in the world. National statistics state that Philippines is growing at 1.89% and could reach 105 million by 2016. Even without considering the problem of overpopulation the fact that sex education is not available in schools greatly affects the lives of young people.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, 7 out of 10 births in the Philippines are by women of 19 years or younger. Where were you at 19? What were you doing? At 19 I was in my sophomore year at Stony. The only baby I was worried about nurturing was my cultural dance team within PUSO.
Choices are limited for Filipinos because of economic, political and social factors. However, if President Aquino and the Philippine government want to implement changes that can create more opportunities for a healthier and more economical lifestyle then the Church should not stand in its way. There are a several things that need to change about the Philippines but I believe it all starts with education. They say that knowledge is power. The Catholic Church can think negatively and say that handing out free condoms and educating students on sex will lead to more sex and relaxed moral standings. However, I believe that a more optimistic mindset needs to be implemented. More individuals need to have faith that young people will make good choices, ones that will lead to a brighter future. The Philippine government is so why not the rest?