Posts Tagged ‘reproductive health bill’
On the problem of crowd estimation for the Aug. 4, 2012 EDSA prayer rally: an interview for CBCP News
My estimate of the crowd size during the Aug. 4 EDSA Prayer Rally was featured in CBCP News. I was then asked by CBCP News to answer a few follow-up questions. But since I tend to answer in paragraphs and not in sentences, I think my response would not fit into a regular news column. So I’ll post my responses here and CBCP News can simply copy parts of it or repost the whole thing:
1.) Why did you feel you needed to come out with this crowd estimate, considering that other groups had come out with their figures?
After coming from the Aug. 4 EDSA rally, I read in Facebook about the estimates published in newspapers which give figures of 7,000 and 10,000 persons for the rally. My hunch is that newspaper writers have a deadline for sending their articles before 3 pm, so that it can be part of tomorrow’s headlines. Thus, the crowd present during the 5 p.m. mass was not counted. So I made my own estimates and came up with 45,000 to 60,000 persons
2) What is your field of expertise and how long have you been with the Manila Observatory?
My expertise is in theoretical physics, particularly in the use of Clifford (geometric) algebra in many branches of physics: mechanics, optics, and electromagnetics. I am an Assistant Professor of Physics at Ateneo de Manila University. I do my research on ionosphere and magnetosphere at Manila Observatory’s Ionosphere Research Building, now known as ICSWSE (International Center for Space Weather Science and Education) Subcenter. I was with MO since 2008 when I was still writing my Ph.D. dissertation. But I do not speak in behalf of the Ateneo Physics Department or of Manila Observatory. I speak only on my own as a theoretical physicist.
3) Are there other methods of crowd estimation? What limitation could these methods have?
Ideally, there should be a camera at the top of Robinson’s Galleria or aboard a plane or a satellite, so that we can get pictures at different times and determine the exact extent of the crowd in time. Here is a good example of how crowd estimation is done from wired.com:
At President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremony, the high-resolution, Earth-orbiting GeoEye-1 satellite took pictures from 423 miles away, and another camera was hanging from a balloon 700 feet off the ground. After examining pictures from both of these sources, researchers put crowd estimates at anywhere from 1 to 2 million.
In the manual method of crowd estimation, you can mark out the areas with similar crowd densities by encircling the areas with a colored pen or by subdividing the areas into a regular grid of square boxes. Areas with similar crowd densities we can refer to as clusters. You can then zoom in to one part of the cluster, count the number of persons per square meter, and multiply this by the area of the cluster. The result is the number of persons per cluster. Then you add all the number of persons in each cluster to get the size of the crowd. The only difficulty is to determine which group of people belongs to in a particular cluster. The more cluster types you use, the more precise your estimate becomes, but it also makes distinguishing one cluster from another more difficult. The fewer clusters you use, the easier it is to distinguish each cluster, but the margin of errors in crowd size estimates would be bigger.
In the computer method of crowd estimation, one way is to get the total area of the black parts and divide it by the average area of each black head in the image. The principle is straightforward and there are computer programs that can do this, depending on the threshold level for the gray scale. But what makes this method difficult is the possibility of counting black shadows and black shirts, too, which would increase the crowd estimate. Furthermore, umbrellas and blondes would make the method useless. There is also the problem image distortion due to perspective (areas closer to the camera appear larger) and camera lens imaging (straight lines becomes curved due to pincushion and barrel distortion). And as your camera goes higher and higher to see the whole crowd, image resolution deteriorates, making it difficult for the computer and even for human crowd estimators to distinguish one person in the crowd from another. To write a computer algorithm for crowd estimation that can handle all these problems is a very difficult challenge.
I am using the manual method. Since I don’t have a picture of an aerial view of the whole crowd, I have to make estimates on the extent of the crowd based on the pictures available, and assume there is only one cluster for the whole crowd for simplicity–an assumption which I think is a valid if you look at the pictures by Anna Cosio in Carlos Palad’s blog, Catholic Position vs the RH Bill. I computed the total estimated area covered by the crowd by dividing the area into strips with the same 17 m width, and added the area of each strip. The I used some rules of thumb in wired.com. I verified these rules by drawing on the floor a square with one meter on each side. I stood inside the square and found that 4 people can fit there with enough elbow room as I saw in the pictures. So I used 4 persons/sq.m. and came up with 60,000 persons. Even if I assume only 3 persons/sq.m., that is still 45,000 persons. I doubt that the crowd density is only 2 persons/sq.m., but even that gives 30,000 persons, which is still three times the estimate of 10,000 in newspapers.
4. Does the Manila Observatory do crowd estimation regularly? When?
No, Manila Observatory as an institution does not do crowd estimation, because its focus is primarily on geophysics and disaster science–earthquakes, typhoons, pollution, and space weather–and how these disasters can be quantified, predicted, mitigated, and avoided to save more lives. Some of my colleagues at the observatory–three of them also my fellow physics faculty in Ateneo–are working on satellite and ground data to map out climate change, rainfall patterns, and land use. But the techniques in satellite and ground data processing can easily be applied to crowd estimation, provided sufficient data such as aerial and street level photos are available. In Ateneo de Manila University, there are undergraduate students who are writing software for monitoring pedestrians and for counting fish fingerlings. There are also researchers working with cameras on toy planes to map out flooded areas. Many of these researchers are members of the Ateneo Innovation Center under Dr. Greg Tangonan, who is also the Director for the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE). In short, there is expertise in Manila Observatory and Ateneo de Manila University to do crowd estimation. It is only a question whether they are interested to do it for street rallies and whether they have the manpower to do the research. The harvest is great but the laborers are few.
As a theoretical physicist, I only do crowd estimation using pen and paper, and the Aug. 4 EDSA Prayer Rally was my first work. I am willing to do crowd estimation regularly as a service for the Church, provided I am given sufficient data consisting of time-stamped pictures in aerial and street level views. The results of the analysis can be published in the web, i.e. in my blog. Other researchers can then challenge the methodology and assumptions, and come up with their estimates using the same or more comprehensive data set. If there are more researchers working on this problem, we can create a Philippine Journal on Crowd Estimation. The results can be applied to any type of crowd–armies of ants, schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds of cattle–even if they would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens or as the sands in the sea. For this is how science is done: a continuous dialogue in search for truth.
5) Do you think your personal convictions affected your scientific work on this particular crowd estimation? Why or why not?
I am a Catholic who loves the Church in the same way as Faramir loves Gondor: “And I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise” (Two Towers, p. 314-315). I read the Bible, the Catechism, the lives and writings of saints, and the history of the Church. I organize Latin masses and promote the rosary. In the case of the RH Bill, and of all other issues such as women ordination, same-sex marriage, and human evolution, I only follow what St. Ignatius of Loyola laid down in his Spiritual Exercises–The Rules for Thinking, Judging, and Feeling with the Church:
Rule 1: With all judgment of our own put aside, we ought to keep our
minds disposed and ready to be obedient in everything to the true
Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical
Rule 13: To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast
to this principle: What I see as white, I will believe to be black if
the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that
between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Spouse,
there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the
salvation of our souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord of ours
who gave the ten commandments that our holy Mother Church is guided
But I am also a physicist with a passion for precision as the data allows. My model for a scientist is St. Ignatius who counts the number of times he fell into a particular fault per day by writing dots in a paper and observing how the number of dots decrease as the days go by. St. Ignatius is one great observer of the motions of his soul that the Society of Jesus he founded became one great network of observatories for observing the motions of the world–the oceans and winds, the moon and stars. The Jesuits are the pioneers in many branches of physics because their mission is to go to the frontiers of knowledge and the crossroads of cultures in order to convert the world for Christ. Seismology was dominated Jesuits during its early development and Padre Faura of Manila Observatory made the first prediction of typhoon tracks in the country. As a tribute to their scientific work, 35 lunar craters are named after Jesuits, with one of the largest named after Fr. Christopher Clavius, SJ, the architect of the Gregorian calendar we now use and a scientist who was treated with great respect by Galileo.
As a Jesuit-trained lay physicist, I am married to my profession, so to speak, and I am faithful to my craft. What I write as a physicist, the others can verify even if they are not Catholics. What I compute is to the best of my knowledge using the available data and the time constraint–I have to publish my estimate the next day. More precise estimates require days or weeks of work. I hope somebody can correct me and present a more precise estimate of crowd size during the Aug. Anti-RH Bill rally using more accurate data and better methodology.
Dear ALMS members and friends,
The Catholic Church hierarchy has called us to join the Prayer Power Rally at EDSA Shrine on Aug. 4 against the RH Bill. Some of us may still be undecided regarding the RH Bill. But as faithful sons of St. Ignatius, it may be worth pondering on his Rules for Thinking, Judging, and Feeling with the Churchas stated in his Spiritual Exercises:
Rule 1. With all judgment of our own put aside, we ought to keep our minds disposed and ready to be obedient in everything to the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.
Rule 13. To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What I see as white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord of ours who gave the ten commandments that our holy Mother Church is guided and governed.
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius asks us to meditate on the Two Standards. Now before us are two standards: the Standard of Christ and of His Church against the RH Bill and the Standard of the Pro-RH groups. The battle lines are clear. There is no middle ground. To waver is to fall. Let us join the standard of Christ and of His Church.
This is a historic moment.
Across the Pacific in US, Obamacare is currently being implemented, which requires to institutions to include contraception coverage to their employees. Those who don’t get health insurance coverage will be penalized with tax. The Catholic Church is against this law because Catholics cannot promote contraception. Though the Catholic Church itself is exempted, Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities are not. Business run by faithful Catholics have to fight their way in court to be granted exemption. Hercules Industries won the fight vs. Obamacare. And there are still other business and institutions who have to fight their own battles. The US Bishops have been divided on so many issues, but not this one: they are all against the Obamacare.
And the same story is replayed in the Philippines. The Philippine president and some lawmakers wishes to promote the Reproductive Health Bill which would require government to buy contraceptives and give it freely, so that we can lower our population, which the government thinks is the reason why we are poor. The bishops are against this bill because it would make Filipino Catholics accomplice to the sin, because the government will use taxes to buy these contraceptives. The Catholic Church promotes Natural Family Planning which respects the reproductive cycles of the woman’s body. Contraceptives only makes a woman’s body a tool to be used for the sexual gratification of the man, and the proliferation of contraceptives will promote fornication and adultery to the destruction of the Filipino family. Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae, have prophesied all these long before in 1968:
Consequences of Artificial Methods
17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection. Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
The Reproductive Health Bill is supported and funded by international groups: Planned Parenthood (the world’s largest abortion provider), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Marie Stopes International, the Packard Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As St. Paul says,
“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”
All these groups seek to depopulate the Philippines and make it another wasteland like Europe whose birthrates have plummeted close to one child per woman, resulting to a graying work force that drains the government’s coffers due to more pension costs and lesser sources of taxable incomes. If this cultural suicide of not having babies does not end, Western Europe as we know it would soon be gone. And if US also falls, the West would plunge to a new Dark Age of Faith, and the Philippines would become the last bastion of Judaeo-Graeco-Roman Civilization. Let us defeat the RH Bill once and for all–a defeat so definitive that none can foresee its arising ever again. This may be our last stand before Congress decides to terminate the debates on August 7 and decide the fate of the Philippines. As Aragorn said before the march of the Western armies to the Black Gates of Sauron:
If this be jest, then it is too bitter for laughter. Nay, it is the last move in a great jeopardy, and for one side or the other it will bring the end of the game. (The Return of the King, p. 164)
Tomorrow, August 4, is a First Saturday, a day of battle which we shall dedicate to Our Lady. She is The Woman Clothed with the Sun who accomplished the bloodless revolution in EDSA in 1986. She is The Woman Who Crushed the Head of the Serpent who destroyed the Berlin Wall in 1991. And tomorrow, She will be known once again as Our Lady of EDSA–Our Lady of the Epiphany of the Saints:
Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun, as awe-inspiring as bannered troops? (Song of Songs 6:10)
So tomorrow, August 4, please come to EDSA and bring your rosaries. As Our Lady said to St. Dominic whose feast we celebrate tomorrow:
Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?… I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter. (St. Louis de Montfort, Secret of the Rosary, p. 21)
Our Lady’s Psalter is the Hail Mary. And a string of Hail Mary’s is the Holy Rosary:
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
I hope to see you there at EDSA tomorrow afternoon. We can meet at 12:00-1:00 p.m. at Loyola House of Studies and join the Loyola School of Theology delegationconsisting of Jesuit priests, brothers, and lay people. Wear red for martyrdom. Those who wish to join the convoy are asked to bring their cars. Those who wish to join me–we’ll take the train If there are only few who will come and EDSA is not filled to the brim, let us fear not but bravely stand and weather the storm. As Aragorn said:
Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.
For this is not just our war. Heaven is fighting with us. And may God open our eyes as he did to Elisha’s servant, and see the hosts of angels in fiery chariots and horses surrounding EDSA (c.f. 2 Kgs 6:17)
Lex orandi, lex credendi. May we who are faithful to the rubrics of the Latin Mass may also be obedient to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr.
Ateneo Latin Mass Society
Reproductive Health Bill is a deception: it is not for reproduction but for contraception. A woman is sexually healthy if she can conceive a child. This is a simple, objective definition, so I don’t know why the RH Bill wishes to muddle this by adding the woman’s psychological and social well-being. Is pregnancy a sickness that must be cured or the hope of our nation that must be supported? Is pregnancy a privilege only of the rich and not of the poor? Is pregnancy an invention of man and not a gift to be thanked for? Many women who cannot conceive turn to IVF treatment costing fortunes but with low chances of success, resulting to many fertilized embryos dying or remaining frozen in test tubes. Many women who are rich do not wish to have children because this will divide their wealth and double their figure. And many women who wished to stop pregnancy with pills suffered breast cancer.
The RH Bill claims that it is pro-women, but it is actually anti-women. Contraceptives makes sex-before-marriage easier: the woman is not anymore assured of being married by the man, for there is no more pregnancy that shall act as witness to the promises of love made in the heat of the night. Contraceptives makes sex-outside-marriage easier: the wife is not anymore assured that his husband is faithful, because there is no pregnancy that shall cry out scandal in the entire neighborhood. Where does men enter into the picture in the RH Bill? Nowhere. RH Bill assumes that men are weak: they not strong enough to control their passions. RH Bill assumes that men are dumb: they can’t understand the mathematics of the woman’s fertility cycle. And RH Bill assumes that men don’t earn enough: they can’t support a family of eight. This is an insult to men in general and husbands in particular.
The RH Bill promises a prosperous future with only one or two children per family. But without children, there would be no laborers in the fields, workers in the factories, soldiers to defend our country, and priests to offer masses. There are only schools without children, industries without workers, barracks without soldiers, and seminaries without priests. Two children work hard to feed a family of six, which includes their parents and grand parents. The pension system collapses, and the government will be forced to raise the retirement age to 70 or 80 or even 90. It’s a bleak future: the collapse of the Western civilization due to its cultural suicide of not having babies. As Rachel cried out to Jacob: “Give me children or I shall die!” (Gen 30:1)
Thus says the LORD:
In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing,
Rachel mourns for her children,
she refuses to be consoled
for her children—they are no more. (Jer 31:15)
Estimating abortion rates from contraceptive failure rates via risk compensation: a mathematical model
Please check out our paper entitled in Ateneo Physics News:
Or in Google Plus:
This paper should have been finished last January. But because of my other writing projects, I postponed the revision to two or three weeks ago. (So my readers may notice that I don’t reply much to comments or post anything new). I hope this paper would help foster a more sober dialogue on the RH Bill, because both pro- and anti-RH bill groups can use its theoretical framework to prove their statements that the more effective contraceptives would result to less abortions (pro-RH Bill) or more abortions (anti-RH Bill). Happy Feast of the Annunciation to all.
Here’s the abstract:
In this paper, we propose a set of hypotheses for deriving the abortion rate as a function of the intercourse interval in weeks, the number of weeks since the start of rst intercourse, the number weeks of pregnancy, the number of weeks of breastfeeding, and the contraceptive failure rate. We also propose risk compensation as feedback: the intercourse interval is proportional to the mth power of the contraceptive failure rate. We show that for dierent values of m, the abortion rate may become smaller, bigger, or remain the same compared to the case when no contraceptives are used. Thus, one way to settle the RH Bill debate is to determine the correct value of m derived from accurate data on the reproductive health
parameters of a large sample of the female population. If this data is not available, it is better not to take risk in approving the bill, because there is a possibility of increasing our national abortion rate through the promotion of contraceptives. Instead, it may be better to use alternative methods to manage our population and reduce our abortion rate to zero by promoting chastity before marriage, late marriages, and breastfeeding|and accepting each child conceived as a gift and not as a burden.
From the Business World:
Since the controversy over Poleteismo exploded, the CCP’s Visual Arts Unit has been fielding calls from people requesting that Kulo be shut down. “The CCP will not be party to any censorship or suppression. Let it be a point of discussion,” said Ms. Flores, adding that she has seen works at the CCP that were “really, really, really more provocative and disturbing.” (Jose Legaspi’s installation in the Small Gallery, for example, which included a modified Pieta showing the Virgin Mother vomiting on the dead Christ.)
Poleteismo is an old piece first shown in 2002 at the Vargas Museum of the University of the Philippines. Mr. Cruz wasn’t thinking of the Reproductive Health Bill when he conceived Poleteismo nine years ago.
Versions of the installation have been exhibited elsewhere, most notably in 2007 in the lobby of the Loyola House of Studies (LHS) — a seminary inside the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University — as part of Tutok: Nexus, a group exhibit organized in cooperation with Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB), “an association of religious priests, seminarians and lay people committed to the service of the Filipino Church and the Filipino nation.”
If Catholic clergymen had kept quiet, if Archbishop Oscar Cruz hadn’t called the exhibit “sickening,” if he hadn’t called the artist “sick,” if he hadn’t advised the artist to see a psychiatrist, if he hadn’t implied that the artist’s sexuality was abnormal, if Bishop Deogracias Iniguez hadn’t called for a boycott, then Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo could have gone unnoticed by the larger public.
When they find it in one of the alcoves of the Main Gallery, they will see multicolored plastic piggy banks stuffed inside a case usually reserved for religious statues; and Christ the King with a bright red clown nose, his right hand replaced by a Mickey Mouse glove, and his head crowned with Mickey Mouse ears made from a Coke can.
Hanging behind a divider is a cross with a bright red penis thrusting out from the vertical bar. And on the walls, a multimedia collage composed of a confusion of images and objects: there are ads, political paraphernalia from Fernando Poe Junior, Gilbert Teodoro, and Barack Obama; there are religious posters of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and the Holy Family; there are handouts, pamphlets, and stickers; there are rosaries, penis ashtrays, crucifixes, condoms, and Christmas lights; there’s a lot of stuff.
“Thereís nothing there that you won’t see in Quiapo,” said Karen O. Flores, officer-in-charge of the CCP Visual Arts Unit.
From Mind Talk:
DEVICES OF DEATH
Representative, Davao City, 1st District
(Privileged Speech delivered during the RH Bill Hearing, June 8, 2011)
Madam Speaker, Majority Leader, dear colleagues, good day.
I rise today on a subject that demands this august Chamber’s gravest concern: the dismal failure of a major government agency to discharge its mandated function in law to protect and promote the health of Filipino mothers, shield and protect motherhood from peril, and safeguard their maternal functions.The regulation of providers of drugs and medicines is reposed bylaw, R.A. No. 3720, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, a regulatory agency under the Department of Health. It is mandated to ensure the safety, efficacy and good quality of all food and drug products being made available to the general public pursuant to Section 2 which provides: “It is hereby declared the policy of the State to insure safe and good quality supply of food, drug and cosmetic, and to regulate the production, sale, and traffic of the same to protect the health of the people.”
On April 19, 1992, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, R.A. No. 7394, went into effect. According to Article II, “It is the policy of the State to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry. Towards this end, the State shall implement measures to achieve the following objectives: a) Protection against hazards to health and safety.”
After all, there is a clear and express constitutional mandate that: “The State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products,” Article XVI, Section 9 of our Constitution.
Pursuant to Article VI of the Consumer Act, it is the Department of Health, through the Food and Drug Administration, that is responsible to the public with respect to drugs, devices and substances.
Section 4 of the Consumer Act defines “drugs” to mean articles recognized in the current official United States Pharmacopeia-National Formulary, official Homeophatic Pharmacopeia of the United States, official National Drug Formulary, or any supplement to any of them; and number two, articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or other animals.
Among the drugs, Madam Speaker, that fall under this definition are the oral contraceptives administered to women and mothers, the injectible contraceptive Depo Provera and the so-called “morning-after pill”.
The same section defines a “device” as an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including any component, part or accessory which is recognized in the official United States Pharmacopeia National Formulary or any supplement to them; two, intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other condition or in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or other animals.
Among the devices administered to women and mothers as contraceptives are the Intra-Uterine Device or IUD, and in recent times, the suction device known as the Manual Vacuum Aspirator or MVA.Both are allowed to be used and actually form part of the family planning devices used by the Department of Health.
We shall now see, Madam Speaker, in what manner these contraceptive drugs, substances and devices are supposed to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease in women and mothers.
First, the oral contraceptives. The so-called high-dose contraceptive pills bring about changes in the environment of the endometrium, that is the uterine lining of the woman, making implantation more difficult. When the high-dose pill functions via this last mechanism, it is an abortifacient if the woman experienced a “breakthrough” ovulation.
These pills have, for the most part, been pulled from the United States market due to their dangerous side effects. Naturally, they are still dumped relentlessly on poor women in developing countries.
The low-dose biphasic and triphasic pills on the other hand function in essentially the same manner as the high-dose pill. However, a much higher percentage of ovulation occurs in women who use the low-dose pills. This means that women who use these pills frequently conceive,and that low-dose pills prevent implantation of the new human individual, thereby acting more often as true abortifacients.
The Mini-Combination Pill functions by inhibiting ovulation and causing changes in the cervical mucus. However, their primary mode of operation is abortifacient, because they prevent implantation by causing changes in the endometrium.
Then, of course, there is the Mini-Pill. The primary mechanism of these pills have not been pinpointed, although women who use them almost always ovulate. Therefore, these pills function primarily as abortifacients.It is known that pills which contain only progestin alter the cervical mucus. They also interfere with implantation by affecting the endometrium and suppressing ovulation in some patients by reducing the presence of follicle-stimulating hormone(FSH).
This mechanism, Madam Speaker, is confirmed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which stated that “Progestin-only contraceptives are known to alter the cervical mucus, exert a progestinal effect on the endometrium, interfering with implantation, and, in some patients, suppress ovulation.”
The manufacturers of the minipills also acknowledge this mode of action. For example, Syntex Laboratory spokesman, Rush Wilks, announced that “its progestin-only pill “… did not interfere with ovulation… It seems to affect the endometrium so that a fertilized egg cannot be implanted.”
In other words, Madam Speaker, the pill is now truly “birth control” not conception control, as was originally intended.
According to United States Federal courts, the birth control pill has been classified as “unavoidably unsafe.” This means that, implicit in a woman’s consent to use the pill, even if she is not entirely informed of its dangers, is an acknowledgment of physical risk.
This legal classification means that women damaged by the pill have a much harder time recovering damages. Dr. John Hildebrand, an expert in the field, estimates that more than 500 women die every year because of pill-induced effects. This startling number is confirmed by figures provided by the Alan Guttmacher Institute and one of the foremost abortionists in the United States, Warren Hern.
It is ironic, Madam Speaker, that the same pill pushed so hard as part of the supposed solution to “excessive illegal abortion deaths” now kills five times as many women per year as illegal abortions themselves did before Roe v Wade.
The most dangerous and well-documented side effects commonly associated with the pill are heart attacks and strokes. The eight-year Nurse’s Health Study at Harvard Medical School found that pill users are 250% as likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those who do not use the pill because the pill excessively increases blood clotting ability.
Now, let us talk about breast cancer. The Fertility and Maternal Health Drugs Advisory Committee is a panel of medical experts that meet to advise the commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration.
The committee evaluated a study by Dr. Clifford R. Kay of the Royal College of General Practitioners of Manchester, England. Kay studied 46,000 women,half of which were pill users and half of which were non-users. He found that pill users were more than three times more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users between the ages of 30 and 34.
A second study by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania and New York’s Memorial Sloan- KetteringCancer Center completed in 1988, showed that the longer women took the pill, the greater their chances of contracting breast cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer was found to be twice as great by age 45 for women who had used the pill for less than 10 years and four times as great for women who had used the pill for more than 10 years.
Now, another type of drug, Madam Speaker, is themorning-after pill or emergency contraception. Postinor Levonorgestrel believed to act to prevent ovulation, fertilization and implantation. This was approved for sale and distribution in the Philippines by the Bureau of Food and Drugs as an emergency contraceptive. By reason of its abortifacient action, Abay Pamilya Foundation asked the Department of Health on May 8, 2001 to cancel its product registration.The public hearings conducted by the DOH revealed the following uncontroverted data about the morning-after pill, Postinor:
1. Levonorgestrel has a high pre-implantation emergency abortifacient action. According to authorities cited by the petitioners in DOH and based on learned medical treatises, the Levonorgestrel approach clearly has an anti-developmental impact on the endometrium of the woman.Work by Kubba, et. al.(1986), specifically referred to Levonorgestrel noting itsability to change the nature of the hormonal receptors within the endometrium.
Dr. Rabone (1990), reported that Levonorgestrel caused a reduction on the number of estrogen and progesterone receptors within the endometrium. The concentration of these receptors is critical for the normal development of endometrium to a stage that will support implantation.
Simon and co-workers have also reported that altered estradiol/ progesterone ratios or E2/P which will occur with high doses of Levonorgestrel are associated with the impairment of endometrial receptivity.
2. Inhibition of implantation. The administration of relatively large doses of estrogen or “morning-after” pills for several days beginning shortly after unprotected sexual intercourse usually does not prevent fertilization but often prevents implantation of the blastocyst. Postconception administration of hormones prevent implantation of the blastocyst and is sometimes use in cases of sexual assault or leakage of acondom.
3. The abortifacient action of Levonorgestrel was not denied by its Philippine importer. The drugs inserts submitted by the importer-distributor, Euro-Generics International, Philippines, reads: Clinical Pharmacology, Levonorgestrel is believed to act to prevent ovulation,fertilization and prevent implantation.
4. Gedeon Ritcher Ltd., the drugs manufacturer, was aware of the moral and ethical implications of Levonorgestrel. The 2001 petition in the DOH, citing Thaler Gy, stated, “Gy. Thaler of Gedeon Richter, Limited, the manufacturer of Postinor (Levonorgestrel 0.75 milligrams), has unwittingly acknowledged the seriousness of this debate by noting that the promotion and use of the morning-after pill involves ethical and moral questions.”
Thus, the morning-after pill, Levonorgestrel, whether marketed as Postinor or some other brand, and any estrogen or progesterone with an abortifacient action is not registrable under Philippine law.
However, Madam Speaker, Levonorgestrel Mirena, as an IUD or intra- uterine device, can be ordered by an OB-gynecologist through the medrep. And Levonorgestrel is also available in several other names here in the Philippines, namely: Logynon, Nordet, Charlize, the Trust pill and Lady.These are all available in your local drugstore.
Now, Republic Act No. 5921, or an Act Regulating the Practice of Pharmacy and Setting Standards of Pharmaceutical Education in the Philippines, provides in Section 37 that “No drug or chemical product or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the Food and Drug Administration shall be delivered or sold to any person without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician.”
The reality, however, the reality, however, Madam Speaker, is this—contraceptive pills can be purchased by any person regardless of age, sex or civil status over the counter. I have personal experience purchasing contraceptive pills myself without prescription, Madam Speaker, when I purchased several birth control pills on May 25, 2011 and again on June 2, 2011 just to prove how easy it is to purchase these pills.
More dangerously, Madam Speaker, in the May 30, 2011 Senate committee hearing, last week, that discussed three Senate bills protecting the unborn, former DOH Secretary Alberto Romualdez stated, under oath, that contraceptive pills can also be ingested as emergency contraception by altering the dosage. Let me just say this, Madam Speaker, birth control pills, purchased very easily without prescription, can be used for abortion by just doubling the dosage for a period of five days.
Let me go to another drug, the Depo-Provera injectible. Depo-Provera was banned as a contraceptive in the US in 1978. While this is so, it is endorsed by agencies such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the World Health Organization for use in the Third World. But our Consumer Act, our Consumer Act states in Article XXXIII that “Banned or severely restricted drugs for health and safety reasons in their country of origin shall be banned and confiscated, or its uses severely restricted, whichever is appropriate, by the Department. The Department shall monitor the presence in the market of such drugs and cause the maintenance and regular publications of an updated consolidated list thereof.”
Madam Speaker, Depo-Provera is imported, available and administered widely in the Philippines.
But warnings on its safety are not unknown to the Department of Health: Loss of bone mineral density, thromboembolic disorders, cancer risks, ectopic pregnancy, anaphylaxis and anaphylactod reaction, convulsions, bleeding irregularities, excessive weight gain, fluid retention—these are among the drug’s dangerous effects. Banned in the United States, Depo-Provera can be purchased in your favorite drugstore for P117.00. And it goes by the names, Depotrust, Lyndavel, and Provestin.
Apart from the drugs, let’s now talk about devices; namely, the intrauterine device and the manual vacuum aspirator.
First, the IUD. What is an intrauterine device? The intrauterine device is a foreign body made of a non-reactive plastic such as polyehtylene inserted in the uterus of the woman to prevent implantation of the developing human being. Some IUDs include active chemicals such as progesterone or copper which slowly diffuse into the uterus for an enhanced abortifacient effect. How do IUDs work?The different IUDs have different modes of action.They prevent sperm from fertilizing ova, release ions, primarily copper, that interfere with fertilization.They thicken the cervical mucus and inhibits sperm capabilities. These are all contraceptive effects. But IUDs also irritate the endometrium or the lining of the uterus of the woman and make it inhospitable for the blastocyst or the very early developing human being. Thus, an abortifacient effect. There is some disagreement among medical authorities over the contraceptive effects of IUDs, but these experts do agree that IUDs prevent implantation.
The American Medical Association’s Committee on Human Reproduction has said that, “The action of IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of action.”The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, which studies birth control methods before releasing them to the market, has observed that “IUDs seem to interfere in some manner with the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterine cavity. The IUD does not prevent ovulation.”
The other device as I mentioned, is the manual vacuum aspirator,known more popularly as the MVA. This is a device for uterine evacuation.Meaning, suction of the contents of the womb. The MVA uses an aspirator with a cylinder, a plunger, and a bulb attached to the cannula with one or two apertures. According to literature describing and marketing the device, the indications for uterine aspiration using this device are : number 1, endometrial biopsy; number 2, treatment of incomplete abortion; and number 3, Madam Speaker, first-trimester abortion.
If the device is an instrument to procure an abortion, then it falls under the definition of an imminently hazardous product defined in Section 4 of the Consumer Act Section 4 of the Consumer Act, to wit, and I quote: “Imminently hazardous product means a consumer product which presents an unreasonable risk of death, serious illness or severe personal injury.”
A device of death, the MVA is purchased by local DOH agencies in some local government units.
In a case study in the Philippines entitled: Planning for a Sustainable Supply of Manual Vacuum Aspiration Instruments, a Guide for Program Managers, it appears that in this country, the key partners in the importation and use on the abortive device MVA are the DOH, Pangasinan Province, the NGO EngenderHealth, the local commercial distributor, the Packcard Foundation, and U.L.S. A.I.D. The local direct contractor of the MVA in the Philippines is BDM Enterprises.
I therefore ask, Madam Speaker, do these oral contraceptives, the morning-after pill, depo-provera, the IUD and the manual vacuum aspirator, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease? Are they safe for women and mothers?
Madam Speaker, no government can bargain away the public health. The people themselves cannot do it, much less their servants. And as public officers, our health officials can only execute the law, not disobey it. How can our government officers, whose sworn duty is to protect and preserve the health of our countrymen, allow such hazardous drugs and devices, abortifacients and carcinogens to be openly sold and distributed in our country?
I therefore call on this House to initiate an immediate investigation on the serious failure of our health agencies in exercising its strict mandate to defend and safeguard the health of Filipinos, particularly our women, in accordance with the letter, spirit and intent of our laws.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Thank you, dear colleague.
Stand Up for Life: A Pro-Life Symposium on the RH Bill
Saturday, 18 June 2011, 1:00-6:00 p.m., St. Mary’s Academy of Caloocan City, Mother Ignacia Avenue (formerly 12th Avenue), Grace Park, Caloocan City. Organized by Knights of Columbus and Our Lady of Grace Parish Family and Life Ministry, in cooperation with Filipinos for Life, Diocese of Caloocan Ministry on Family and Life, and St. Mary’s Academy–Caloocan City.