Friday, June 17, 2011

The major cause of maternal deaths, really (Part 2)

(or why getting pregnant is like getting hit by a car) huh?

I came across an article which that annotates the problem with data and illustrations, and it helps understand the issue of maternal health. The article concentrates on showing data as a comparison of maternal deaths with our neighboring countries, and shows the 4 points where the RH bill aims to address the issue.

I like the analogy of pedestrians crossing the street - there are bound to be accidents. I think one of the obvious solutions is to reduce or minimize the number of people crossing the street. It's just the same as students taking exams where there is a high failure rate. You just reduce the number of examinees and ergo - you reduce the number of failures! I thought this was the magical solution of the RH bill in addressing maternal deaths. Reduce pregnancies via provision of free contraceptives and therefore reduce maternal deaths. So why don't we go a step further and eliminate pregnancies altogether by legislation and then presto: ZERO maternal deaths. I am just kidding, of course :-)

The overall picture in the article indeed shows that as far as maternal mortality is concerned, we are woefully behind in comparison with our neighboring countries.It would be better if we can further distill the attributes of the data. In cases like this, it is good to apply the principle behind the Pareto analysis. An applicable principle here maybe is that 80% of the problem is caused by 20% of the attributes. The most recent study I can get hold of that can be helpful here is one made by NSO statisticians, in a presentation made at a 2004 convention. It should be good enough for establishing the trend.

On page 7, the table shows that the areas of ARMM, Regions 12 and 9, account for the lowest utilization of prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care. The dismal 20.6% utilization of delivery care in the ARMM region is illustrative. If we go through the rest of the regions, we clearly see a strong correlation between low maternal care percentages and poverty by region. This is punctuated by the fact that the most populated (and by the way - the richest by per capita income) region in the country, NCR, has the highest percentage of prenatal and delivery care in the entire country: 96.6%. It is indeed ironic that among the regions that need more support in terms of health care, the poorest regions get the least attention. We must bear in mind with this observation that with the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991, delivery of health care services was devolved to the LGUs. And as we all know, the classification of regional areas directly corresponds to the budget of LGUs, leaving the needy LGUs with less resources than it actually needs. The RH bill aims to be objective in that it proposes maternal health care in terms of population and number of deliveries. However, this approach fails to take into consideration the demographics of the picture. The data shows that highly populated areas happen to be the high-income, high healthcare penetration areas, and if straight headcount data is used, this approach will only manage to perpetrate the imbalance of support that has become typical in the government approach to the delivery of basic services. The RH bill should have said the poor should be provided MORE instead of the SAME level of access. The poor, rural areas always happen to be the most neglected, in contrast with the developed cities where its residents can generally afford health care.

Talking about Region 12 and ARMM, these areas also happen to be perpetually saddled with conflict. It is a given that conflict-ridden areas suffer the most in terms of basic services: food, water, sanitation, electricity, education, and yes - basic health care. It is not any secret that these areas are also the poorest in the entire Philippines. Recurring and recent events also show they are also the most deprived of fair play and JUSTICE. As in healthcare, those who have less in life should have more of justice. Indeed, regional conflict that has historical roots is very complicated to solve. One solution proposed is to bombard these areas with free condoms to finally solve the problem. On this last sentence, I am again just kidding. :-)
Well, maybe not.

I agree with the four points raised in the article (in reference to the intents of the RH bill) in addressing maternal health. Hopefully, the actual methodology used in implementing any solution will be adjusted to take into consideration the concern I raise about demographics, and seamlessly integrated with existing DOH systems addressing the same needs. Also, I would like to point out further that the Pareto principle of 80-20 also has to assume a much more fundamental concept. It is called root-cause analysis.
Part 1 here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Senator Pia Cayetano: REDUNDANT times 5

Earlier today, Senator Pia Cayetano delivered her sponsorship speech of the Senate version of the RH bill. In essence, she spells out 5 supposedly earth-shaking points up front of what the Senate version of the RH bill is all about. To cut it to the chaste, the 5 points she enumerated are as follows: 1) REDUNDANT; 2) REDUNDANT; 3) REDUNDANT; 4) REDUNDANT; and 5) REDUNDANT. However, she should be credited with a feel-passionate , heart-tugging sponsorship speech, but at the end of her melodramatic, long-winded speech there is only one conclusion to the discerning listener. Please bear with me for repeating it again for the umpteenth time : REDUNDANT.

Maternal and child health, upgrading of health facilities, addressing HIV, access to different family planning methods, and health/sex education. Who can deny that all of these are not already currently the mandate of the Department of Health? To ascertain, all we have to do is to verify it in the official DOH website. If that is not enough, look up the DOH budget under the 2011 General Appropriations Act, where it is plain to see that about 12.07 Billion pesos are already allocated for the same, same purposes that Senator Cayetano attempts to make a big deal out of. Should we not take to task the DOH for the 12.07 Billion pesos already budgeted to it before we even think of enacting a redundant bill? Yes, 12.07 billion. That is OUR money, my dear co-taxpayers.

Even her concern about HIV control is already rendered doubly moot by RA 8504, "The Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998", of which again, DOH is tasked to implement. And before she tries to make a big deal out of sex education, may we gently remind the good Senator that Catholic schools have been teaching their faith-compatible version of sex education all along. But of course we all know that the various versions of the RH bill (the Cayetano version being no exception) intends to force their own immoral brand of sex-education down the throats of ALL schools, Catholic and otherwise.

At the risk of being repetitive, all that Senator Cayetano proposes in her 5 points are completely unnecessary. Why? because they are REDUNDANT, REDUNDANT, REDUNDANT, REDUNDANT, and finally for the last and not the least reason, REDUNDANT.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Angsioco versus unborn

With prominent RH bill proponent Elizabeth Angsioco's latest tirade entitled "Unborn versus mother", one is convincingly left without any iota of a doubt as to the main agenda of the RH bill: it is all about Abortion with a capital A. Unless the RH bill proponents disown Angsioco's statements, her astonishing message reveals the strikingly clear motive. The title of her opinionated (and grossly erroneous) piece is in itself a dead giveaway. Why, is there an inherent war between ''Unborn vs Mother"? Does Angsioco herself feel that her mother is at war with her from the moment of her conception up to every breathing moment of her life? I suppose not, for even Elizabeth Angsioco herself should probably make a convincing case for the timeless adage "only a mother can love''.

Angsioco takes umbrage at the various bills pending in Cong
ress that seek to put teeth into the Constitutional provision requiring the State to ''equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception". While she acknowledges the provision, in the same breath she claims:

''A child is someone who is born into this world, a complete human person like you and me. A child is a citizen, and therefore, has human rights. Calling the unborn a child to me is going beyond what the Constitution provides."

So according to Angsiocotic philosophy, the unborn is not a complete person until it is "born into this world". If the unborn is not a "complete person'', what is it then? A half-person? A quarter-person? Semi-person? A clump of inhuman cells? She attempts to bolster her argument by referring to the Constitution but I do not see anything in there that says the unborn is a partial human person. What I do see in there, is that the unborn is accorded by the State a presumptive personality from the moment of conception. A presumed person that merits protection by the State. Why, because the Constitutional Commission precisely said so. If the state presumes the personhood of the unborn it does not consider it as an incomplete human unworthy of protection. She harps about the right of the mother (the unfettered right to abort, if that is not clear enough) and completely turns a blind eye to the right of the unborn. The records of the 1986 Commission flatly rejects her imaginations:

"Whats being affirmed in this formulation is the moral right as well as the constitutional right of the unborn child to life, If this should entail the granting of presumptive personality to the unborn befinning at the moment of the conception, then so be it. Xxx Respect for the rights of the woman with child and respect for the rights of the child in her womb are by nature intimately linked such that any deliberate harm that should come upon one will doubtless effect a corresponbding harm to the other. Conflicts of rights is fictitious. Xxx The conflict is only apparent. It is easily resolved by applying the following principle: When two rights come in conflict, the more basic right and/or the right concerning the graver matter takes precedence over rights involving the less basic or less serious matter. It is clear that the right to life is more basic than the right to privacy or any other posterior rights. Therefore, since removal of the fetus would most certainly result in violation of its right to life, the woman has no right to evict the temporary resident of her private womb.”

(Bernas, J.. The Intent of the 1986 Constitution Writers (1995), p. 119.)

Not only does Angsioco twist legalities, she also manages to twist mathematics as well. Equal Protection means, well, EQUAL Protection. The right of the mother for protection is EQUAL to the right of the unborn for protection. Not GREATER THAN nor LESS THAN. Of course there are exceptional cases where the medical treatment of the mother might result to a NOT DIRECTLY INTENDED harm to the unborn. Angsioco apparently, is not capable of acknowledging the nuanced distinction whatsoever. She is clearly all for the 'rights' of the mother to abort the unborn regardless. After all according to her, the unborn has no rights whatsoever until it is born. Well, she has a right to her opinion, however twisted it may be. The State guarantees EQUAL protection of freedom of speech to the erroneous person as well as to the factual person. I presume her mother would love her in spite of that. As to the rest of the pro-RH bill advocates, I presume they would love to gag her from now on. She just let the screaming cat out of the bag.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A response to the latest salvo of Fr Bernas (again)

A response to the latest salvo of Fr Bernas (again?)

"...There are claims, for instance, that there are contraceptive drugs in the market that cause abortion or are carcinogenic. What I would like to see is an authoritative identification of the drugs that are said to be abortifacient or carcinogenic so that they can be withdrawn from the market or their use subjected to medical regulation. So far I have seen only one drug identified as abortifacient, namely postinor. This was withdrawn from the market by the Food and Drug and Administration. But the identification of drugs claimed to be abortifacient or carcinogenic should be authoritative in a manner that is fair to drug manufacturers and to those who rely on them for legitimate medical purposes."

- Fr Bernas in his article: Levels of Discourse in RH debate

Dear Fr Bernas,

I am aware that you have asserted time and again that life starts at fertilization, both from the Catholic as well as from the Constitutional standpoint. So it is not a Catholic position alone as it also has a firm basis in the Constitution. This core issue has nothing to do with the non-establishment clause. As far as "authoritative indentification" of abortifacients are concerned, it is obvious that you are referring to the FDA. I believe delegating the issue to the judgment of the FDA should not give us any comfort with respect to its particular relevance to the RH bill. May I respectfully point out that HB 4244 contains a repealing clause: SEC. 31. Repealing Clause. All other laws, decrees, orders, issuances, rules and regulations which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

It is therefore evident that the bill intends to dictate the parameters of FDA's contraceptive regulatory guidelines. We all know that contrary to faith and science, the RH bill sponsors have insisted on implantation as the start of life, rather than fertilization. The very premise of the RH bill opens the floodgates to abortifacients of all natures, but with a twisted definition that is dictated by the RH bill with the expected blessings of FDA. FDA would then assume authority over the life and death of the unborn. Are they that "authoritative"?

The future for female fertility according to the man who created the Pill

The future for female fertility according to the man who created the Pill

..his vision of the future, Professor Djerassi sees egg freezing as a fundamental tool of family planning - empowering women further...

‘It is already happening at Stanford, where I teach. Women assistant professors on a tough ten-year career path, working 60 or 80 hours a week, are freezing their eggs for later use.’


Women chained to a 60-80 hour workweek, for 10 or so years wherein they are not 'burdened' by pregnancy and child-rearing. Thanks to the pill!

Good thing there is a solution according to Professor Djerassi: these women can freeze their eggs for later use. Of course, the wonders of In-Vitrio Fertilization and Embryo Transfer. Meanwhile her live-in partner can enjoy sex with her all he wants, without any of the consequences and attendant responsibilities (say, a child for example).

Sooner or later, her live-in partner would likely ditch this busy and aging career woman to live-in with another partner of his choice. A younger one definitely. Now this empowered woman will most probably grow old alone.

Professor Djerassi, the father of the pill, calls this scenario: "empowering women further".

No, I think he's serious. Well maybe a tad crazy, but serious.

Check out the article [here]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christian Anthropology versus the Sexual Revolution

"Christian Anthropology versus the Sexual Revolution" by Peter Kreeft.
-an address to the The Catholic Medical Association's 79th Annual Educational Conference, October 27-30, 2010.

To see that the Sexual Revolution has been radical in thought as well as behavior, just look at the revolution in language. When people use the word "morality" today they almost always mean sexual morality. That's a remarkable new development, an astonishing narrowing; it's as if we started to use the word "state" to mean only Russia, or the word "technology" to mean only "computers". The reason for the new development is obvious from my two comparisons: sex, Russia, and computers are where there have been the most radical revolutions.
Look at abortion. No one defends killing innocent, defenceless human beings, except for sex. That is what abortion is. The whole purpose of abortion is backup birth control and the whole purpose of birth control is to have sex without babies. If storks brought babies, Planned Parenthood would go broke. Sex is the motor that drives the abortion business.

Look at divorce. Suppose there were some practice that did not involve sex that had the same three scientifically provable effects that divorce has. First, it betrayed your most solemn promise you ever made to the person you said was the most important person in your life. Second, it was child abuse, it maimed your children's psyches, it made a happy life and a happy marriage and family much, much harder for those vulnerable little people you brought into the world and who remained largely dependent on you for their future. Third, it infallibly guaranteed that your society would die, would self destruct.
The moral revolution is confined to sex. We are not allowed to steal another man's money without being put into jail, but we can steal another man's wife. You cannot betray your lawyer without being severely penalized, but you can betray your wife, and SHE is severely penalized. You cannot kill bald eagles or blue whales without being a criminal but you can kill your own children as long as you do it a second before the two blades of the scissors meet in the middle of the umbilical cord rather than a second after, or a second before the body emerges from the birth canal rather than a second after. What kind of logic is this?
What then do we need to defeat this revolution, which has brought about such immense destruction, and eventual death, to families, and eventually to society? Reason, logic, argument, science, facts, common sense, compromise, return to tradition – none of these are strong enough. What is strong enough? Only one thing. Nothing less than Jesus Christ will do.

Why? Because the heart of the error of the Sexual Revolution is the identifying of love with sex. Christ undoes this fundamental confusion by showing us – not just telling us but showing us – what love is.
No official teaching in the Church's 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close. It's the teaching of the Church about sex that is by far the main reason the world hates and fears the Church today...
And how does Jesus Christ answer that? What does Christ have to do with the Sexual Revolution and its causes and its consequences? Everything. Because Christ alone gives us intimacy with God, and that's the thing the Sexual Revolution is looking for but doesn't know it. As Chesterton said, When the adulterer knocks on the door of the brothel, he's really looking for a cathedral.

Therefore Christ alone is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Because nobody else gives us intimacy with God.

[read the entire transcript here]