Saturday, October 18, 2008

Babies & battlecries

Cleaning out the study room yielded a stack of old magazines, among which was an old issue of Love Life, a publication of Pro-Life Philippines which I helped produce. The issue I found came out in 2006, and as I pored over the pages, I came across this piece I wrote around the latter part of the previous year --

Babies & battlecries

Time: 10 pm. People involved: around 15 chatters, mostly Americans. Place: The Abortion Debate room.

"I don't know why I have to be a life-support system for some baby!"

Those are the words of an American woman--thirty-something, I believe, though her exact age escapes me now. A few people are engaged in a conversation about the issue of abortion, which is the usual topic in this chatroom. I stay for about half an hour, then leave when I've had enough of lines that betray an ignorance of medical procedures ("...oh c'mon, an abortion is perfectly safe...") and a scornful sentiment towards unborn babies ("would you let another person get the nutrients from your body if you didn't want him in the first place?").

Seeing how other people think about such a delicate matter gives me a jolt. What's even more disenchanting is that it won't be long before such ideas are vehemently expressed by fellows on our shores. And why not? It's always like that -- be they trends in music, fashion, television programming... you name it. Very little filtering takes place as far as things coming from the U S of A are concerned, and the underlying dictum seems to be "if it's from the States, it must be good."

Well, Americans did introduce us to some pretty good things. They brought in the concept of democracy after the locals saw the end of 300 years under Spanish rule. A democratic form of administration was a welcome change, considering the slave-like existence of indios that three centuries of subjugation by the Spanish government had led to.

We also have the Yankees to thank for changes in the realm of education, yet another development in our society. They basically established formal education as we know it today. Then they provided opportunities that enabled Filipinos then to enjoy the benefits of books, blackboards and classroom discussions without having to go abroad.

Clearly, good things have come from the West, and the "Land of the free" will continue to churn out new inventions, be they material products of technology or intangible signs of authentic human development. But as in any society where progress is constantly being pursued from all directions, detrimental consequences of this pursuit have emerged in the West as well. Then, in recent decades, someone came up with the saying that when the US sneezes, the whole world catches a cold. To a certain extent, that may be true, but there is such a thing as building up resistance. And based on what's been happening in our society in recent years, some people are welcoming the germs with open arms -- and many of them don't even know it.

Take the case of ideas. A fervent "I don't know why I have to be a life-support system for some baby!" may sound too extreme for our sensibilities for now, but then so did the idea of divorce several years ago. "Oh, divorce will never be approved here," I recall a neighbor casually dismissing the growing concern over the issue. That was in 1999 when I told her about the proposed bill that some congressmen had come up with. The notion of divorce being legalized in our country came as a shock to many, but it seems that time (and subtle brainwashing) has a way of softening the shock value of anything abhorrent. The folly of divorce eventually came to the fore, though, prompting the proposed bill to be shelved.

Then there was the idea of making abortion legal in cases of "defective" babies. By the way, I did not choose that word myself; it was yet another congressman -- the author of a bill proposing the legalization of abortion -- who referred to mentally and physically handicapped babies as "defective." (Makes a baby sound like an appliance, doesn't it? Besides, who among us is without defects?) What rationale provided the basis of the bill? The fact that all children deserve to be loved, and the assertion that "defective" babies are better off dead than raised by a presumably "unloving" mother. Of course, the author didn't state it that way. The ideas were the same, but the language was diplomatic, more pleasing due to gentle words blanketed with a tone of compassion.

Then here comes another proposed measure, a bill trumpeted by some sectors as precisely what women need, the answer to our woes. It supposedly gives women the power of self-determination (now who wouldn't want that?), the freedom to decide what they want to do with their body, and -- even for girls as young as 13 years -- easy access to all reproductive health care services.

The better-informed individuals and groups know why any program or policy that endorses "reproductive health care" (which is receiving much support in the United States) actually spells disaster for women. They also understand why this whole campaign for "reproductive health care" ought to be opposed with everything short of fire and brimstone. No, those calling for a more responsive and responsible health care program for women aren't being paranoid or emotional; they are simply aware of some things such as: first, "reproductive health care services" covers all birth control devices and services including abortion; and second, woemn are kept in the dark by the government about the damaging effects (and sometimes fatal consequences) of using contraceptives. How then is this to be called a health care program for women when it endangers precisely the health of women?

"The right to decide" and "it's my body, it's my choice" may sound liberating, even brilliant. And such phrases have been made battlecries too often on the streets of America -- battlecries demanding not the right to vote, not the freedom to obtain an education, but the license to kill growing babies. Are these the ideas that we allow to enter our society, our homes, our minds?

These days, most of the crucial choices lie in selecting which ideas from the West to accept, which to modify and wihch to reject outright. Enough of that "if it's from the States, it must be good!" mentality. The moment "I don't know why I have to be a life-support system for some baby!" begins to sound a little acceptable to you, you've just caught a cold after a mighty sneeze from the West.

Okay, now who wants to be infected next?


petrufied said...

it's so easy to say that times are changing. But the change is really in us, when we don't make standards and seek what will really be good for us. it's easy to say that (for example) smoking is good when a close friend smokes. but it's not necessarily healthy for you.

the lowering of standards is gradual, and it comes from constant bombardment of concepts from tv and print media. when they (in the media) lose their standards, little by little so do we. D:

sunnyday said...

Yes, but it's a good thing we aren't mindless zombies who blindly follow (and believe) every message bombarded to us by media ;-)

Anonymous said...

hi diana,

i would just like to know where i could buy your baby magazine. please email me the info at



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