Monday, August 18, 2008


Economics, “the dismal science,” may be getting even more dismal still, as some 26 economists from the University of the Philippines attempt to tackle the complex and complicated question of procreation and population.

The economists are urging Congress to pass the highly questionable Reproductive Health bill proposing that the State actively promote and provide contraception (to women) and sterilization (to both men and women) to bring down further the country’s population growth, now 2.04 % according to the National Statistics Office, or 1.72% according to the CIA World Factbook, 2008.

Under this bill, the State will be made to provide contraceptives and abortifacients, free of charge as “essential medicines,” to an otherwise healthy population. These would include oral contraceptives which the World Health Organization’s International Research Agency on Cancer has determined to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans.

The economists worry that if the population continues to grow, the poor will only multiply. They want it checked via a state-funded program of contraception and sterilization. To them (as it is to the authors of the bill) it is not enough that there be free and unlimited market access to contraception and sterilization, as there is right now --- the State must use the taxpayers’ money to provide the harmful agents to the population.

Against all existing evidence of a steadily declining family size with an average of three children, the economists reportedly claim that 57% of poor Filipino families have nine children or more. The statistic reads like one of those manufactured electoral counts in one of our notoriously crooked elections. It smells.

These economists have been known to espouse “liberalization, privatization and deregulation.” Although there is no attempt at full disclosure, many of them identify with international institutions and agencies that swear by the same principles but are simultaneously engaged in funding population control in the Philippines.

Now, what they want done to the population is nothing short of “central economy planning,” which they purportedly abhor in principle. The subject of their central planning is not the economy though, but the private lives and social behavior of people. Quite a promotion.

Economics, by definition, concerns itself with the equitable allocation of finite resources among recipients with competing needs. But what our economics professors want to do is to allocate the human being --- or the human family --- according to the finite resources available. And they want to put the State in charge of the allocating. That is no longer economics but population engineering. You do not find that in a well-ordered liberal democratic state; you find it in a totalitarian system.

We have a pro-life Constitution, but we have no penal law barring anyone from using contraceptives, abortifacients or sterilization devices or agents. The Church continues to teach these things are wrong and harmful, just as it continues to teach that killing, stealing, adultery and fornication are gravely sinful. But just as the Church does not have the means to prevent anyone from violating any of God’s commandments, it does not have the means to prevent anyone from using contraceptives and abortifacients, from getting sterilized, or even from contracting abortion.

The actual situation then is that no one is prohibited by law from practicing contraception. In fact, across the nation, the contraception prevalence is reported at 50%. The real issue behind the RH bill, therefore, is not whether everyone should have free access to RH information and services, which they already have, but whether the State should now enter the bedroom, supervise the conjugal intercourse of married couples, and spend taxpayers’ money to try to cure pregnancy, which is not a disease, even though it sees no need to provide free medicines and medical care to men and women dying from killer-diseases.

This is not an economic question at all. The issue is primarily moral and constitutional. Morality --- the rightness or wrongness of an act ---is the basis of law; the Constitution is the fundamental law of the land. No enactment of Congress may disregard or dispense with either. But we don’t have the space for a thorough discussion here.

The first question to resolve is whether the State has the right or the authority, as distinguished from naked and unlawful power, to redefine the fundamental rights of man as man, such as his right to embrace his wife and to father her children. These rights precede the rights of the State and are not subject to its consent, concurrence or modification.

Our Constitution correctly recognizes the primacy of such rights. Section 12 of Article II recognizes “the sanctity” of family life, and the family as the “foundation of the nation.” It binds the State to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” This constitutes an outright ban on abortion, which is a punishable crime. It does not prohibit any individual from practicing contraception, but it necessarily prohibits the State from funding its own program of contraception or permitting any foreign-funded program of contraception to be incorporated into its own education and health delivery systems.

Why the distinction? Simply because if it is the constitutional duty of the State to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception, it cannot be its right or duty at the same time to prevent women from conceiving.

If as a result of couples contracepting on their own, no pregnancies occur, then the State would have no one to answer to, and nothing to answer for. But if as a result of the State’s program of contraception no pregnancies occur, then the State has made a mockery of the Constitution. We would have perverted our laws and human reason itself.

So many sophisms have been thrown in to muddle this point. But you don’t need a PhD in economics or a master’s degree in law from an Ivy League University to understand it. A short home schooling in basic logic will do.

17 August 2008


Ernesto said...

Dear Senator Tatad,

I've been following the "population debate" keenly. Let me say at the outset that I'm one of the unreconstructed conservatives who well into the 21st centry still cannot see the humanity and great wisdom in science-based secular and liberal thinking, especially in matters like the management of population.

All the things I would like to say about artificial contraception as a means to control population are expressed so clearly in the wonderful esssay of Mary Eberstadt entitled "The Vindication of Humanae Vitae" which is in the current issue of the premier Catholic journal "First Things" (your blog's namesake!). If you have not read the said essay, kindly take some time to visit this link:

More power to you.


wimbam said...

its not the number of child... its the effort of the parents and the opportunity for income that matters most..