One afternoon, many years ago, I was walking along the beach in one of the poorest barangays in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, my attention was caught by a young girl carrying a baby. The baby was crying and I assumed she went out of the tattered hut beside the beach to calm the baby. Then as if on cue, several youngsters went out running followed by a haggard woman and a man. They looked happy if you did not hear the shouts of the woman, reprimanding them or something. But what I remember most, the children are enough to form a basketball team with complete substitutes. Yes, they are family, I learned later. One mother, one father and several children living in a tattered hut beside the beach.
During our pre-Cana seminar when we were about to get a Catholic Church wedding, several couples discussed methods on natural family planning. An elderly couple who have 10 children discussed the rhythm method. I looked at my husband (we were already married at a civil ceremony). The reason why she has 10 children. I wanted to ask if she enjoyed giving birth to 10 babies. Then, a young couple, who have one child. Then another elderly couple, all talking about the evils of pills, condoms and other artificial contraceptives. Then, a few years ago, some of the lecturers, the elderly and the young couples separated. I do not want to know the reasons.
In my experience during the Church sponsored seminars, not one doctor spoke about family planning. And the couples were not given time to ask questions.
We have been using contraceptives throughout the course of our married life.It is our choice. The choice we made affect our family positively. We are able to give them quality time and we are able to improve our careers, and most of all our sex lives. Condoms and pills dd not push us to be promiscuous, instead it enhance our capabilities to enjoy each other in such gratifying manners without fear of getting pregnant. Isn’t it that love is the best gift that G*d bestowed upon the humankind? And sex is the sum total of showing that man and woman become one?
The debate on Reproductive Health Bill and the rise of HIV-AIDS and the threat of the hierarchy of the Church to withdraw support from candidates who are openly supporting the Reproductive Health Rights in the Philippines is alarming. For me, it clearly draws the line on the priorities of the Church. Is it the preservation of the family or its degradation due to extreme poverty exacerbated by the unplanned pregnancy?
The stance of the Church against the Reproductive Health Rights does not affect the middle class and educated women. Women from the marginalized sectors are affected mostly because they do not have access to better health care. They do not know anything about family planning or the wide range of choices when it comes to reproductive health.
Recently, I had two shots of anti-cervical cancer vaccine. Two shots cost P5,000. My ob-gyne and I discussed the reproductive health issues. And among this, is the access to vaccines. We both wondered how an ordinary working woman could avail such services when the food on the table is the primary concern. She told me that poor women are the most susceptible to cancers and other reproductive health disorders; like giving birth frequently!
The argument of some pro-life is like this: responsibility of the couple; mutual respect. But can you say that to a husband with all his macho image imbibe since the day he was born? Are we as apostles of Christ really went out and speak about gender equality to the bowels of the cities and rural areas?
The theology of suffering, specifically targets women because we as women are molded in the image of a suffering mother. But women do not want to suffer anymore. A part of this suffering is the endless bearing of children. The G*d I know does not encourage suffering. G*d wants me to speak of my rights; that I own my body, and not even the Vatican can have anything to do with this wonderful body created by G*d. And because I have the right to my body, I have choices.