TURNING POINT: Population Management: A Government Imperative

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 06 April) — To have and raise a child, while primarily a family responsibility, is a social concern.

Wherever located, in urban or rural setting, any new child that is added to the country’s bourgeoning population requires space, learning facilities and materials, teacher’s attention, protection, transport, health and other social services. Moreover, every additional mouth would take a bite on available food and other produced goods in the country, exerting pressures thereby on the resources and the environment.

Any social concern, that is, anything that affects the interest and welfare of the citizens becomes a government responsibility. It is therefore the role, duty and obligation of government to institute a sound, universally acceptable population management program in tandem with education and jobs creation programs.

The RH Bill is a policy move in this direction. The bill is for quality life, not against life. It does by empowering the people, especially the poor sector of society, to make informed choices through easy access to information, knowledge and services on reproductive health.

The bill does not force people to limit the number of their children; they are shown the advantages of well-spaced and lesser number of children. The State does not arrogate to itself the moral and economic choice to have a child; the decision remains with the parents.

The use of condom, IUD, pills and other forms of contraceptives are not forced on the people; these are made available to those who want them with attendant proper guidance. The people are not likewise stopped from adopting natural methods to space their children but shall in fact be encouraged to do so if such is the choice.

Contrary to claims, contraceptives do not lead to promiscuity and other immoral sexual relationships. Promiscuity is a moral choice and resides in the person regardless of the presence or absence of contraceptives. Promiscuous persons may or may not use contraceptives in consuming their desires.

There is risk in everything we do or option we make in this world. Even the things that we enjoy – food, drinks, cars, plane rides, and activities that we adore – swimming, diving, tennis, running, and cycling carry with them certain amount of risk or expose us to certain degree of danger.

Nothing is risk-free. No medical technology or its product is ever “100 percent” perfect. There would always be caveat for side effects, contra-indications, interactions and the like. That using family planning tools, methods and drugs would cause cancer or lead to abortion is no different from claims that smoking and cola, coffee, and alcohol drinking would result to the same end. Yet many people continue smoking, drinking cola, coffee and alcohol.

People are not appalled or diminished by the imperfections, the hazards and the dangers that lurk around them. They would always take calculated risks in pursuit of a perceived higher good. Meanwhile, the risk in making decisions may be reduced if people have access to information, are knowledgeable of what they intend to do, and understand the possible consequences of their acts.

Providing access to information and knowledge is the function of government. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., was a research and extension worker, professor and the first chancellor of the Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental.  He was a British Council fellow and trained in 1994 at Sheffield University, United Kingdom, on Participatory Planning and Environmentally Responsible Development. Upon retirement, he served as national consultant to the ADB-DENR project on integrated coastal resource management. He is the immediate past president of the MSU Alumni Association)