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Ateneo School of Medicine’s Self-Immolating, Self-destructive Letter in Support of the RH Bill

March 16, 2011

Here’s a good example of altruism or an act of self-destruction at work. More than 200 students of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health expressed their blind support to the fascist Reproductive Health bill, now euphemistically named Responsible Parenthood bill. These young students are truly men and women for others.

In their letter of support, they quoted a constitutional provision, which provides that the “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.” They should have asked: At whose expense? At the expense of productive employers, health-care providers and taxpayers.

I stated in a previous blog the following:

[The RH bill is EVIL because it seeks to] institutionalize and legalize government control of the entire industry, medical profession, and education sector. First, the RH bill seeks to control the entire business industry. Section 17 of the bill details this horrible scheme. So once the fascist bill is approved, any potential or aspiring employer would be covered by it, which means that he/she would be legally treated as an indirect government employee. The employers or companies who have the capacity (with more than 200 employees) would be mandated by law to “provide reproductive health services to all employees in their own respective health facilities.” This provision means that those employers and companies with more than 200 employees need to have their own “health facilities”, and this means additional expenses on the part of job-creators. On the other hand, employers with less than 200 employees shall enter into “partnerships with hospitals, health facilities, and/or health professionals in their areas for the delivery of reproductive health services.” Logic tells us that since employers and companies would be legally required to shoulder additional expenses, then this means they are justified to increase the prices of their products and/or services. Does anyone think of PRICE CONTROL?

They also quoted Article XIII Section 11, which provides that “the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost.” This is probably what former Associate Justice Isagani Cruz calls “fantastic.”

So we are now a socialist state! Yepeeyyy! Why not ask this question: health development, etc. AT WHOSE EXPENSE?!

It is widely considered that the so-called government’s ministrant functions (those welfarist functions taken out to allegedly advance “the general interest of society) are merely optional (see Social Security System Employees Association vs. The Hon. Judge E. Soriano, et al.).

In this case, the Court states:

“The ministrant functions, are those that are undertaken only by way of advancing the general interest of society which are merely optional, such as, public works, public charity, health and safety regulations, and other functions of similar nature. The ministrant functions are exercised by organization, like the Social Security System and other government-owned and controlled corporations, created to promote certain aspects of the economic and social life of our people.”

A good example of a ministrant function is the aforementioned constitutional provision. This concept (state’s ministrant function) grew out of the statist, welfarist legal doctrines of Anglo-American jurisprudence. It is a by-product of America’s liberal, progressive magistrates’ distortion or perversion of the general welfare clause. The American Constitution from which we partly based our own charter does not carry any provision that would somehow legitimize the concept of state’s ministrant functions. The American charter, which made America the greatest nation on earth, simply states that the only proper role of government is to protect individual rights, not to provide public services to the people.

Based on the Philippine jurisprudence, the delivery of the alleged government’s ministrant functions is merely “optional” because the Supreme Court, in some good cases, realized that public services require government spending. Some of our past justices understood that government spending justifies the levying of more taxes, the borrowing of money from both domestic and foreign sources, the printing of paper money out of thin air, and the imposition of economic regulations. There are unintended consequences of more government spending, and these are what some of our visionary justices sought to avoid.

However, we now have a former chief justice, Reynato S. Puno, who believes that the alleged rights to education, health care, and other public services should be made mandatory. This means that the people can sue the state for the provision of free education, health care, transport, etc. Is this not a fantastic proposal from a former magistrate?

Further, they state that it is their “mission to be outstanding clinicians, dynamic leaders and social catalysts will not be achieved if we idly sit by and watch our fellow Filipinos be denied of their right to health, education, and economic development.” This is very much commendable, however, this is not what the bill is all about. They can be outstanding clinicians, dynamic leaders and social catalysts without a legislative proposal that seeks to control the entire industry, medical profession, and education sector. However, I believe they can be more responsible clinicians and more responsive to the needs of their future patients under a free-market system, that is, a system without government control or regulation.

They also aspire to be “social catalysts”, as they realize that “the cost of inaccessibility to good reproductive health practices is also a burden to public health. ” If they really read the bill, they can indeed become “social catalysts” of BIG GOVERNMENT. And if they’re sincerely bothered by “the cost of inaccessibility to good reproductive health practices”, then the proper solution is not to support the fascist bill, but to offer quality health care services in the market at a lower price.

Free market competition in the medical sector works. Those who offer quality health care  services get more clients, but those who offer quality yet affordable services get even more clients. But if they want to provide free RH care services to those in need, they always have the right and freedom to form a charitable organization whose members are doctors or health-care providers. There are health organizations and doctors willing to provide competent health care services to poor people free of charge.

For those in the medical field and medical schools who BLINDLY support the bill, here’s a good advice from Dr. Hendricks:

“I quit when medicine was placed under State control some years ago. Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything—except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the ‘welfare’ of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, but ‘to serve.’ That a man who’s willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards—never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness at which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind—yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.”

Now here’s the Ateneo medical student’s Declaration of Support for the Immediate Passage of the Consolidated Reproductive Health Bill into law:

We, the undersigned students of Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH), express our support for the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011. As doctors of the future, we cannot ignore the plight of our own countrymen who are suffering – especially women who die while giving birth. Our mission to be outstanding clinicians, dynamic leaders and social catalysts will not be achieved if we idly sit by and watch our fellow Filipinos be denied of their right to health, education, and economic development.

Health is vital to any country serving as the lifeline of every nation. That is why the Philippine constitution guarantees that the right to health is protected. As affirmed by Article II Section 15, “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”

The constitution also ensures that health services would be available and accessible to all. Article XIII Section 11 states that “the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost.”

We believe that the RH Bill aims to protect and ensure the right of the people to reproductive health services at affordable cost. It also supports the commitment of the country to reproductive rights as stipulated in the 1994 Cairo Consensus and 1995 Beijing Conference (UNFPA, 2008).

We join the Filipino people in their clamour for freedom of choice. In the recent survey by Pulse Asia (2010), 69% of Filipinos support the RH Bill in contrast to only 7% who are in disagreement. Different surveys have repeatedly shown that Filipinos want and need reproductive health services. Lawmakers and the government should heed the call of the people and make it a priority.

Outstanding Clinicians. We are concerned that the country will not be able to achieve several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The RH Bill directly addresses the Fifth Goal which aims to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

The current estimated maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 162 per 100,000 is unacceptably high. The myriad of problems causing this will be addressed by the RH Bill. This includes increasing skilled birth attendants, better obstetric care, access to family planning and treatment of life-threatening reproductive health conditions.

As outstanding clinicians, we value patient autonomy and support giving a full range of safe options to couples who are willing to plan their families. These include natural and artificial methods of family planning.

Artificial contraceptives are proven to be safe and reliable methods of family planning. Its importance cannot be overemphasized that the World Health Organization declared oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives, condoms, diaphragms and implantable contraceptives asessential medicines (WHO, 2010).

We agree with the expert opinion of the Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecology Society that oral contraceptive pills do not cause abortion and cancer (POGS, 2010).

We advocate that physicians treat post-abortive complications with utmost care and without prejudice.

Dynamic Leaders. While we acknowledge that a large population does not directly cause poverty, we believe that better maternal health and family planning will help in alleviating poverty in our country.

Low fertility rates and decreased maternal deaths contribute to higher female labor supply for the country. Moreover, our country and its individual families would be given the chance to allocate more resources for education and health if couples could properly space the birth of their children (Canning, 2010). Investing in reproductive health services is substantial in fighting poverty in the long run (UNFPA, 2005).

As managers, we believe that the direct and indirect benefits from facilitating reproductive health services to employees outweigh its costs. A company with a healthier workforce is always more productive.

Social Catalysts. The cost of inaccessibility to good reproductive health practices is also a burden to public health. MDG 6, which is to combat Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and other diseases, is also in peril. The Philippines is one of the few countries registering an alarming increase of HIV cases.

The youth (15 to 24 years old) is one of the hardest hit age groups in the ongoing HIV epidemic in the country. They represent 31% of the cases detected in 2010, while young adults (25 to 29 years old) come second at 30% (National Epidemiology Center, 2010).

Another problem of the youth is early and unwanted pregnancy. Early pregnancy happens to one in every ten 15 to 19-year-old Filipino girls (NDHS, 2008). Contributing to this is the fact that there is a significant proportion of the youth with various misconceptions about sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy (POPCOM, 2003).

These are problems that could be remedied by age-appropriate reproductive health education. It will help instill better sexual behaviors resulting in better health outcomes. Education, we believe, is a means to empower individuals to make wise and well-discerned choices according to their personal contexts, preferences and beliefs. The RH Bill does not only stress the involvement of women in reproductive health but also men, the youth and their parents.

We therefore affirm that the Reproductive Health Bill responds to the challenge of nation building.

To our President, lawmakers, and government officials; the overwhelming support to the Reproductive Health Bill by various local and international bodies is an affirmation that this is a pressing need. We earnestly hope that you will listen to the voice of countless Filipino couples who want to plan their families, the youth who need to be informed, and the poor who have limited access to quality reproductive health care.

We ask our fellow medical students and health care professionals to declare their support for the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill into law. It is our primary duty to ensure the right to health and improve health outcomes through evidence-based interventions.

Lastly, we call on our fellow Ateneans to be men and women for others and embody the essence of Cura Personalis by supporting the RH Bill.

We sign this position paper as individual medical students of the Ateneo de Manila University;speaking only for ourselves and not for the University.

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