Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pro-choice vs pro-life

Anti-abortion groups are up in arms to criticize government officials whose negative policies on unwanted pregnancies have caused anxiety and despair among the catholic community because they fear that more and more unborn babies will be aborted. And that respect for human life will continue to be violated.

Even as this is being written, opposing forces have not reached a common ground by which to iron out their differences and beliefs in so far as acceptable birth control methods are concerned. Visible of these groups are those claiming to be affiliated or supporting the pro-life or pro-choice movements across the world. And the battle goes on and on and on. As the controversy on abortion rages, many unwanted children are born thereby adding to the already bursting number of population on earth. This means more mouths to feed, clothe, educate and raise to become productive members of society. But as the population grows, the earth's resources wouldn't be enough to absorb all our basic needs over a long period of time. What is worrisome is that in the impoverished countries, more and more children are dying of hunger each day due to malnutrition and lack of proper of health care for their survival. It is not surprising, therefore, why a group called the pro-choice movement rose up to the occasion by calling on the governments to allow responsible couples to choose what is best for them so as to limit their number of children.

What is a pro-choice, anyway? According to the Feminist Women's Health Center in its October 2007 statement, "to be pro-choice is to support self-determination to make decisions free from judgment." It adds: "Pro-Choice is the responsibility to yourself and the freedom to decide to take control of your own life process." FWCH further stated that pro-choice is not just about reproduction but the freedom to decide your life course with the support and respect of others. "It represents power and pride in self."

"We feel pro-choice is a complex process - it's not just about abortion, but about birth control, or having a child - it's about all reproductive choices. It's access to information we need, can gather and understand, and can reach our own decisions without interference. And it's about who makes the final decision, not a judge or the government, but the woman," the FWHC statement said.

In the first place, why prevent couples from deciding for themselves on what to do with having children or not? Judging from my own observations, I noticed that those couples who are much poorer are the ones who have more number of children. Based on this, can anybody just allow couples to have children even if they do not have the capability to feed their children? Notably, when a couple has more mouths to feed but has no means to sustain their children's basic needs, what happens is that some of the children are out on the streets to seek loose change and food from strangers just to fill up their empty stomachs.

Logically, why in the first place raise babies some of us cannot afford to feed? Perhaps, before the problem gets worse, acceptable birth control solutions based on the health of the mothers should be administered in order to stop unwanted pregnancies. However, there seems to be some conflicts and misinterpretations on matters related to family planning methods. According to Tom Head of About.com, where he keeps an article on the issue of civil liberties, that the pro-life movement argues that even non-viable, undeveloped human life is sacred and must be protected by the government. Abortion, according to this model, must not be legal, nor should it be widely practiced on an illegal basis. "The pro-choice movement argues that in cases where
human personhood cannot be proven, e.g. in pregnancies prior to the point of viability, the government does not have the right to impede a woman's right to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy," he continued.

On the contrary, population studies revealed that when couples have more children, the less likely they will able to provide them their basic needs. And when any society has more impoverished people in the midst, the government is left helpless to cope with the negative consequences of the problem. In poor Asian countries, like the Philippines, this social problem has become a dilemma to the government because of the growing number of street children
who eke out a living hawking different kinds of things to earn money. Worse is when they are out on the streets all day long and into the night, these poor children are vulnerable to criminal elements. Parents should be responsible enough to limit the number of children they could afford to raise so that this problem should not aggravate the burdens of any government for that matter. What good does it do when a couple has more children that parents cannot afford to feed so that most of them experience hunger in their early stage of life.

In some Asian countries like the Philippines, the issue on abortion is hotly debated between the Catholic Church and the pro-choice movements. And the government is caught in the middle, particularly the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and the Department of Health (DOH), whose hands are tied because their stand on the birth control issue failed to get support from some legislators. Of course, POPCOM has always been battling it out for Congress to deliberate on matters related to population and development policies. But nothing much had happened because some of those legislators who are supposed to support the population-related bills are afraid of the Catholic Church. This is the reason why there is not much development in so far as family planning and responsible parenthood are concerned. It is not surprising why the Philippine population has ballooned to more than 80 million already. In the absence of a firm population and development policies with a teeth, rapid population is expected to continue at the expense of the country's resources.

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