The reproductive health (RH) bill, which was passed in a December 17 vote by Congress, also seeks to make fertility control and sex education available throughout the country.
Pro- life advocate Juan Carlo Argo, with many others, spent hours monitoring the proceedings from outside the compound’s gates.
"I cried the day after. It was really a bitter experience," he related, adding that the vote’s outcome made him feel that he could have done much more to help the pro-life crusade. He remembered the times he let laziness win when he could have otherwise produced art work to promote the pro-life cause.
"But the fight ain’t over. I can still help save lives in my own little way," the young professional said.
University student John Walter Juat echoed the same sentiment despite devoting much time and energy on his promoting life-affirming ideals for the past several years.
"While others are trying to tell me to stop because it’s over, I say we continue. The passage of this bill should not stop us from fighting, but instead make us stronger, braver, and more persevering," he said.
The population control measure was merely a small battle within the bigger picture: "the battle between morality and money; the battle between good and evil; the battle of what freedom really is about," the University of the Philippines student explained.
What was crucial was that Catholics know their faith and fight for their faith, he continued, then added his appreciation of the significance of the time in which the crusade for upholding the culture of life was taking place with much more intensity.
"How providential indeed is the Holy Father’s declaration of this year as the Year of Faith," Juat pointed out.
Amy Lee’s faith is also what has kept her afloat amid the disheartening news during the days leading to both days of voting as well as the outcome. The passage of the RH bill was a great disappointment as regards many of the lawmakers, but "following our beloved Lord’s statement that the great apostasy must happen before He comes, it was not totally unexpected.
Lee is likewise determined not to back down even though it is almost certain that the President’s signature is soon to be affixed on the final version of the population control measure, which institutionalizes contraception, requires health care workers to participate in the promotion of birth control and chemical abortion by referring patients to others who would provide such services, and penalizes anyone who refuses to comply with the measure due to religious or moral convictions.
"My feelings right now are a mixture of sadness but with a greater determination to fight and evangelize His great teachings. I am just unable to be a more obvious presence in the fight but I support a stronger Catholic presence in politics," she said.
Lee expressed her support for anti-RH lawmakers and the need to make a stronger Catholic stand "with the end in view of pushing for more Catholic legislation."
She also pointed out the need to both stay "true and faithful to His teachings but at the same time [go] on the offensive. We cannot allow persecution if we can help it. We have to fight back," she asserted.
For others, the Christmas season is providing much comfort amid the sense of loss brought about by the passage of the population control bill. Lorelyn Turtosa-Dumauag admitted she is still "grieving" but that she finds her "piece and consolation in the idea that Jesus was born into this world and triumphed in the end."
The family of the Cagayan de Oro-based Dumauag is aware of how devastated she is by the turn of events, she said, "but in all this, I find peace in Jesus in the manger."