RH hurrahs! and a boo

the first HURRAH! is for dr. sylvia claudio, director of the u.p. center for women’s studies, who spoke up in congress at the 2nd deliberation of the house committee of population and family relations on the critical question of when life begins, and fearlessly unequivocally contradicted the notion that life begins at fertilization.

I have a prepared statement today but let me respond to the questions posed to the medical doctors by Representatives Biazon and (Anthony) Golez on the issue of when life begins.

I note that the Chair called upon me because Rep. Biazon also asked who does not believe life begins at fertilization. I do not, for two reasons. The first reason is that as an agnostic I do not subscribe to the beliefs of the Catholic Church. In this regard I would like to remind everyone that the Constitutional provision on religious freedom protects not just the right to belief but also the right to non-belief. …

The second reason I do not believe that life begins at fertilization has to do with my expertise as a medical doctor. . . . I would like to note that “conception” is not a medical term. The terms fertilization and implantation are medical terms and we can describe and explain these processes to lay people. Any scientific discussion requires the precise use of terms. The Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecological Society is correct when it states that the mainstream medical and scientific community agrees that pregnancy begins at implantation.

the second HURRAH! is for dr. marita v.t. reyes, chair of the women’s health care foundation, who recently gave a talk on “Biomedical Ethics and RH” in a u.p. forum. reyes points out that only upon implantation does the woman’s urine test positive for the hormone that signals a pregnancy.

Conception is usually equated with fertilization described as the union of sperm and egg. Clinically, however,conception is synonymous with pregnancy and is established by a pregnancy test based on the presence of the human chorionic gonadotrophin in the blood and the urine. This hormone is secreted by the chorionic villi after implantation of the embryo.

… Implantation is completed 14 days (2 weeks) after fertilization. Studies have shown that 45-70 percent of fertilized ova do not successfully implant. It is after implantation that individuation may be said to occur since twinning and fusion no longer take place. Some books refer to the fertilized ovum prior to implantation as a ‘pre-embryo.’ After implantation, it is referred to as ‘an embryo.’ Sometimes, debates are unresolved because of differences in terminologies! It is at implantation that the hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin mentioned earlier, is secreted and is used as an indicator of pregnancy.

so there.   as far as these lady scientists are concerned, human life begins with implantation, which doesn’t happen until more than a week after fertilization, if at all there is an egg that is fertilized after unprotected (uncontracepted?) sex.   so what’s the harm of emergency contraception, or the morning-after pill, when one is not pregnant and just wants to make sure one does not get pregnant?

of course the anti-RH folks will insist that life begins with fertilization and any intervention in the reproductive process is morally wrong.   i say again, it’s for the woman to decide who to believe and what to do with her own body.

of course it would help if mainstream media would level-up the information-gathering, yes?   and lead discussions that would help women understand that they have options, and that would make the golezes and sottos in congress see that millions of impoverished men and women who may want to practice contraception (instead of having to resort to abortion) just can’t afford to buy condoms and pills when they can barely feed their families three meals a day.

this brings me to the BIG BOO! which goes to anc‘s the brew that guested paranaque representative roilo golez the other thursday but instead of truly grilling him on his anti-RH stance, the brewhas just let him go on and on — high population is good, contraceptives are already available, maternal deaths should be blamed on lack of doctors and midwives, at kung ano-ano pang kamachohan.   they should have posted a disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are not those of the brewhas, or the network’s, unless of course anti-RH din pala sila.

sure they tried, pitifully unsuccessfully, to bring the talk to the level of the impoverished family, but golez was just too “good” — poor din daw siya noon but his parents had the right values, sent him to school, blah blah blah.   hay naku.   so the brewhas changed the subject na lang:  how daw kaya to produce more pacquiaos.

like i posted in facebook, the girls didn’t help the RH cause any.   they should stick to trivial issues for which knee-jerk reactions are good enough if they can’t be bothered to do their homework.   if they had bothered to check out golez’s website they could have at least maybe prepared an intelligent counter-attack.   or maybe not?

in last thursday’s episode the brewhas reacted to criticisms lightly, patawa effect — kesyo they didn’t wanna “mess with golez”…  he will “stoop to nothing”…   kesyo  it wasn’t supposed to be a debate, nothing wrong with letting the “charming” golez have his say…  maiba naman from “shrewish zealots” with “magical reasoning”…   ganoon?   ewww

so what do we make of one brewha’s  rant vs. tibaks and the suc budget protests.   i guess matapang lang sila vs. the left at pag di nila kaharap?   ‘yan ba ang girl power, anc style?   BOO!


  1. “so what’s the harm of emergency contraception, or the morning-after pill, when one is not pregnant and just wants to make sure one does not get pregnant?”-angela

    easy. the harm is killing a fertilized egg who has the potential of someday becoming the future president of the Philippines who can lift us up out of this rut we are in.

    anybody please, don’t get any ideas in your head. I am in full support of the RH Bill.

  2. I also watched the hot-seat grilling of Rep. Golez by the Brewhas and he was not objecting to the RH bill on moral,ethical and religious ground but was worried on the practical economic impact and effective public service since we are allocating a huge budget to shoulder a corrupt-prone “freebees” of health-care facilities and supplies which favored multi-nationals and pharmaceutical industries who will skim dry the govt of funds without a down-stream benefit to the marginalized poor. I agree with him on this point and also I do not believe that providing condoms and contraceptives are medical tools to effect “abortions” since they only prevent conception and fertilization of “potential being” before they are medically defined human life as opined by the above referred women medical experts.

  3. btw, this scientific period of fertilization of human ovum has also been mentioned and defined in the Islamic Koran as the same period medically defined by Western doctors which is quite miraculously surprising since this was written even before the advent of Western civilization.

  4. UP nn grad

    Bert: look at the past Philippine presidents and you’d notice that none of them were from the classes C-D-E, the classes that need help with spacing their children and managing the size of the family.

    Think again of the past Philippine presidents’ families and without a doubt, they had practiced family-planning techniques that used the pill and condoms. Of course, we don’t what PresNoynoy does for family planning and spacing of children. Maybe he uses condoms, maybe he does not.

  5. …mainstream medical and scientific community agrees that pregnancy begins at implantation.

    Apparently, the mainstream and scientific community does not agree. This is a masterful sidestepping of the question “When does human life begin?” by turning it into “When does pregnancy begin?” Granting that pregnancy begins at implantation, the obvious fact is that the embryo already has the full set of genetic information that identifies it as a human, that is, the human is already alive before implantation. Appeals to consensus, I always find weak. One resorts to it if the facts that support one’s position arent all that compelling.

    But yes, it is for the woman to decide whether or not to kill the human within her. (Just like it is for me to decide whether or not to bash my seatmate over the head with my laptop. Nya-ha!) It is a matter of conscience. If a woman believes what is in her is just a glob of protoplasm, then it shouldnt be a problem for her. So far she hasnt asked me to foot the bill for her abortion yet the way she is asking me to foot the bill for her condom, pill, or IUD.

  6. UP n: You’re right, I agree with what you said, though if you’re implying that angela was thinking only of the classes c-d-e with that question of hers I don’t so.

    As for Pres. Noynoy, since he’s for the RHB and he has no children, maybe he’s for zero population growth therefore his preference could be the that what you called tubal ligation, :).

  7. UP nn grad

    bert: tubal ligation after 4 or 5 children will still result in a steady upward population growth. [Just think of China : China used to have 5 births per woman in the ’70s. At 4.0 births per woman, China still had a soaring population growth rate, and the Communist Party instituted the “One Child Policy”. The TFR (total fertility rate) for China now is about 1.8 to 1.9 births per woman.]

  8. bakit kasi hindi pa pumayag na life begins at fertilization para matapos na ang debate para maging batas na ang RH Bill na ito. kapiraso na lang ang hahakbangan hindi pa alisin ang hadlang. totoo namang life begins at fertilization, ‘di ba?

    iyon namang sabi noong aleng doctora na “life begins at sperm production” ay pang iinis. nang-iinis pa kasi kaya lalong tumatagal.

    “pro-birth” siguro ang aleng doctorang iyon, :).

  9. kaya nga me debate kasi nag-i-insist kayo na life begins at fertilization. at kami naman, nag-i-insist na life begins at implantation, when the woman’s urine test signals a definite pregnancy. bakit kasi hindi kayo pumayag na life-begins-at-implantation, para maging batas na ang RH bill.

  10. pero, angela, hindi ba maliwanag na ang buhay ng bata sa loob ng katawan ng babae (sa loob ng katawan ng babae, ha?) ay nagsisimula sa ‘ovium’ o’ sa fertilized egg? Mali ba ang ‘statement’ na ito?

    ito ang statement: “Ang buhay ng bata sa loob ng katawan ng babae ay nagsisimula sa ‘ovium’ ‘o fertilized egg.”

    mali ba ang statement na iyan?

  11. para sa akin, mali. basahin mo ang blog ko. maliwanag naman na ang paniniwala ko ay, human life begins at implantation. and you can’t convince me otherwise. and maybe i cant convince you otherwise either, so let’s agree to disagree na lang.

  12. ” human life begins at implantation. and you can’t convince me otherwise”

    i’m curious about WHY you believe it. this is especially curious coz there is no real evidence, and lack of info makes u want to be more cautious, not less…

  13. Scientists definitely will say pregnancy begins after implantation (according to the blah-blah-blah above). However, scientists will also determine that pregnancy begins before implantation (according to this blah-blah-blah on Early Pregnancy Factor http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/dup/dup_01earlypregfacts.html ).

    As far as the Constitution is concerned, the unborn is protected by the State from conception. The framers discussed “conception” meaning fertilization (or before implantation):

    [Commissioner Bernardo Villegas, who was the principal sponsor of the provision, answered that the conception took place with fertilization since “it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life.” When Commissioner Fely Aquino observed that at that point there would only be biological life, Bishop Teodoro Bacani did not contradict her but said that there would already be biological human life even if there was as yet no “person.”]

    (The reference of the quotation was already given here: http://www.stuartsantiago.com/media-priests-abortion/ )

  14. I can’t understand the purpose of this objection to the logical proposition that ‘human life starts during the fertilization period’ when the sperm cell fertilized an egg in the woman’s body.

    If the purpose of the objection is to have a law like the RH Bill that would allow the use of artificial methods of contraception then the best and fastest option to have that is to let go of that objection and agree that life begins at fertilization. Then we will have a law that would allow the use of artificial methods of birth control.

    Insisting on that objection will not help any in convincing proponents of the RH Bill like me. It will only delay the approval, or kill it, because this objection is providing the Catholic Church more ammunition to fight against the bill.

  15. After the law has been passed, then that will be the proper time to have a debate again on the issue of “personhood” of the ovum/fertilized egg so artificial contraceptives presently considered abortifacient might be accommodated into the law. One step at a time.

  16. Lagman should know better to insist that the word “conception” in the Constitution means “implantation”:

    “it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life. Just to repeat: first, there is obviously life because it starts to nourish itself, it starts to grow as any living being, and it is human because at the moment of fertilization, the chromosomes that combined in the fertilized ovum are the chromosomes that are uniquely found in human beings and are not found in any other living being”
    (Record of the Constitutional Commission, Volume 4, p. 668).

    “The intention is to protect life from its beginning, and the assumption is that human life begins at conception, that conception takes place at fertilization”

    (Record of the Constitutional Commission 799, cited in Bernas, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Manila: 1996 ed., p. 78)