Thursday, September 26, 2013

Babies are not blessings? A reply to Ana Santos of Rappler

baby after birth
A newborn baby glistening in amniotic fluid (Wikipedia)
Ana Santos of Rappler wrote a piece entitled, "Babies are not blessings." Santos quotes the figures related to having babies as given by Dr. Emma Llanto of UP-PGH and Society of Adolescent Medicine in the Philippines:
  • Hospital delivery: Php 20,000-Php 25,000
  • Vaccination: Php 30,000 in the first year
  • Cost of living: Php 25,000-Php 30,000
  • Education: Php 100,000 per year
And there are other things that you need to do in the first 2 to 3 years: "You’ll have to stay up nights—for the next 2-3 years; you’ll need to breastfeed every 2-3 hours round the clock—about 10-12 times in a day, and change diapers about 6 times a day.”

So what is wrong with this picture? Santos and Llanto believe that because of all these, babies are not blessings but financial burdens, especially to teenage women. And they quote the following figures from Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider:
  • 4 babies are born per minute
  • 3.4 million pregnancies in 2008 in the Philippines and 54% of these women did not want to have a child so soon or at all
The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Sears Parenting Library)The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Sears Parenting Library)
The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Sears Parenting Library)

And Santos ends her article by proposing her own definition of what a blessing is:
This reality check is made easier to accept when we are taught and made to believe that babies are blessings--as if human life was manna from heaven that just happen to suddenly fall into our laps. ‘Babies are blessings’ is the Philippine version of the stork coming to visit and yet everyone knows and accepts that babies don’t come from storks. If babies are truly the blessings that we believe they are, each and every pregnancy should be wanted and properly planned for. If babies are the blessings that we truly believe they are, bringing another human being into this world, caring for him or her and nurturing them to become responsible adults would be a seen as a matter of choice, not a matter of chance.
My Reply:

The whole article hinges on the definition of a the word "blessing," so let us examine Santos' understanding of this word by dissecting her statements one by one. 

A.  ANALYSIS OF SANTOS'S STATEMENTS

1. We are taught and made to believe that babies are blessings--as if human life was manna from heaven that just happen to suddenly fall into our laps.

What Is It? The Story of Manna in the Desert (God Loves Me) (God Loves Me Storybooks)
What Is It? The Story of Manna in the Desert (God Loves Me) (God Loves Me Storybooks)

"We are taught and made to believe that babies are blessings" presupposes a teaching institution.  In the next clause, there are now some Biblical allusions: "As if human life was manna from heaven." From this we can conclude that the teaching institution is related to the Bible.  Since it is only the Catholic Church that has consistently opposed the RH Law (which Santos clearly supports) and has consistently taught that babies are blessings, we can safely conclude that Santos is referring to the Catholic Church.

From Santos's statement, we can infer that a blessing is like "manna from heaven that just happen to suddenly fall into our laps."  Who sent the manna?  If we believe the Bible that Santos refers to, then we can read from the Book of Exodus that the manna was sent by God.  Since the Israelites complained to Moses that they need food and manna is food which is good for sustenance, then we can tentatively agree with Santos that a blessing is something good which comes from God.  But Santos made a qualifier: "that just happen to suddenly fall into our laps".  This qualifier suggests that blessings are totally unasked for because there was no action initiated to receive such blessing.  But as we saw, the blessing of manna is a result of the complaint of Israelites before Moses and of Moses's complaint before the Lord.  As the Lord said to Moses:
I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread, and then you will know that I, the LORD, am your God.13 In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp,14 and when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.15 On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”* for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat." (Ex 16:12-15)
Thus, if the Santos's metaphor of manna holds, then a blessing is something good which comes from God that was asked by man.

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle
Using this proposed definition, are babies blessings?  We can say the affirmative: babies are blessings.  Moses, before his death while in view of the Promised Land, told the Israelites:
All these blessings will come upon you and overwhelm you when you obey the voice of the LORD, your God: 3d May you be blessed in the city, and blessed in the country! 4 Blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks!e5 Blessed be your grain basket and your kneading bowl! 6 May you be blessed in your coming in, and blessed in your going out! (Dt 28:2-6)
As we can see, a blessing from God is always a blessing of fertility and abundance: the harvest of grains, the young of herds and flocks, and babies which are the fruit of the woman's womb.  This has always been God's blessing since the Creation of the world in Genesis:
God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, 22 and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth. (Gen 1:21-22)
God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.* Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. (Gen 1:28)
Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss
Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss
Those women who cannot bear a child are called barren--barren like the earth which cannot grow grains.  That is why, the ancient Israelites believed that such women are not blessed by God.  The Bible has many examples of these women, but in the end God blessed them.  There is Sarah, wife of Abraham, who bore Isaac in her old age, the son promised by God. There is Rachel who told Jacob: "Give me children or I shall die!" (Gen 30:1); she later gave birth to Benjamin and Joseph.  There is also the wife of Manoah, but from her came Samson, a one-man army who defeated the Philistines by his brute strength. There is Hannah who became the mother of Samuel, the Judge who anointed Saul and David as Kings. And finally there is Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, and from her came John the Baptist. Elizabeth is the cousin of Mary.  And when Mary visited her, we get the words of the second part of the "Hail Mary" that we pray:
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,s 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.t 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord* should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed* that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. (Lk 1:41-45)
In short, a baby, according to the Bible, is a blesssing.

2.  ‘Babies are blessings’ is the Philippine version of the stork coming to visit and yet everyone knows and accepts that babies don’t come from storks. 
Amazon Gift Card - Print - New Baby Boy (Stork)
Amazon Gift Card - Print - New Baby Boy (Stork)

In statement 1, Santos associated blessings with something good that comes from God, though she may not agree that this good was asked by man himself (that includes women, too).  Santos is right in a sense, because there are certain blessings are totally gratuitous like rain, for they come whether you ask for them or not or whether we disobey God or not.  As Christ said:
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, formakes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (Mt 5:44)
"Babies are blessings’ is the Philippine version of the stork coming to visit" is Santos's clause that comes directly after Statement 1.   The purpose of this statement is not to support the first statement, but rather to frame it as something similar to storks delivering babies which we know to be not true.  In doing so, by mere juxtaposition of two ideas, the reader may conclude that the statement "Babies are blessings" which is rooted in Biblical tradition is in fact on the same level as a make-believe story we tell to little boys and girls who ask how babies are made, while dodging the detailed explanation of the birds and the bees.  Thus, the purpose of statement 2 is to demolish the Biblical framework behind statement 1, thereby putting the Catholic Church, which teaches the truths of the Bible, into a bad light.

3. If babies are truly the blessings that we believe they are, each and every pregnancy should be wanted and properly planned for. 
4.  If babies are the blessings that we truly believe they are, bringing another human being into this world, caring for him or her and nurturing them to become responsible adults would be a seen as a matter of choice, not a matter of chance.
Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception (2nd Ed.)
Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception (2nd Ed.)

Statements 3 and 4 are essentially equivalent: statement 4 is just an amplification of statement 3 without new arguments proposed.  So we shall examine these statements at the same time.

With Statements 3 and 4, Santos's idea of a blessing is becoming clear.  A blessing for her is related to something unasked for or unplanned like manna falling on your lap or a baby delivered by a stork out of nowhere.  In doing so, Santos brushes aside the giver of the blessing (God), looks at the blessing (the baby) and asks like the Israelites of old, "What is this?" a question in Hebrew which sounds like "Manna".  If there is a box that we can check for "return package to sender", Santos would have checked the box.

So now Santos wants to correct the unplanned nature of the blessing and make it not due to chance but to choice.  Santos's language is now shifting: from Biblical, to fantasy, and now to probability or chance.  Chance is the bedrock of Evolutionary Theory, for in this theory, the world was made because of chance, and the humans came to being because of chance. Chance is the god of atheistic Genesis which created all things big and small--from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest galactic clusters.  Chance made a lottery of billions and billions of molecules and cells striving to survive the harshest conditions, and from the law of survival of the fittest and removal of the unfit, the first life begun on earth as a tiny cell, and after millions and millions of years of trial and error in combining and dissociating became a fish, an amphibian, a mammal, a monkey, and finally a man.  There is no Christian God who made man in His image and likeness.  There is only chance.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health
Apparently, Santos does not like this chance idea.  She wants choice which in evolutionary paradigm we refer to as artificial selection.  In this case, however, the basis for selection are not the desirable qualities of the would-be parents--skin color, intelligence, beauty, etc. as the Hitler's Nazis have done to create the  perfect Aryan race--but rather the mental state of the would-be parents: are they ready to bear the financial burden of raising a child?  Such decision almost always involves contraception, because without contraception, having a baby has a higher chance of being born. If we liken humans to dogs, copulation happens whenever the female is fertile and a male is nearby, because it is during these fertile periods that a female's sexual desire is strongest, the sexual intercourse is most pleasurable, and the chance of having babies is most likely.  If you believe in Evolution, you can blame this connection of sexual pleasure with having babies, because chance, the god of Evolution, wants to make sure the propagation of the species, for otherwise, the species will not survive and become extinct.

So Santos does not really believe on the laws of evolution. She actually wants to be like the Christian God who willfully created man and woman by choice.  But since she cannot create man out of nothing, she only tells women to focus on timing, by asking the following questions: (1) Is it the right time to have a baby? (2) Do we have the money to pay for the bills?  If the answer to both questions is "No," then women must make sure that they do not conceive a child, by taking all the possible precautions for "safe sex"--not safe from all diseases like HIV and AIDS, but simply safe from being pregnant, thereby equating pregnancy to a disease and not a sign of a healthy reproductive system. Santos wants women to see that the babies they thought of and they were taught of as a blessing were in fact a curse--a financial curse, at least.  Just look at all those hospital, housing, and educational bills!

Phaedo (Oxford World's Classics)
Phaedo (Oxford World's Classics)
Santos wants sex without worries of having an unplanned baby.  She wants only the pleasure of intercourse and not the corresponding pain and sacrifices of raising a child that this pleasure leads to--or at least, lessen such pain and burden.  But Socrates thinks that you can never separate pleasure from pain because god fastened their heads together, so you will always get one whenever you get the other:
How singular is the thing called pleasure, and how curiously related to pain, which might be thought to be the opposite of it; for they never come to a man together, and yet he who pursues either of them is generally compelled to take the other. They are two, and yet they grow together out of one head or stem; and I cannot help thinking that if Aesop had noticed them, he would have made a fable about God trying to reconcile their strife, and when he could not, he fastened their heads together; and this is the reason why when one comes the other follows, as I find in my own case pleasure comes following after the pain in my leg, which was caused by the chain. (Phaedo by Plato)
Adam and Eve in Paradise (the Fall) by Lucas Cranach the Elder - 42"H x 29"W - Peel and Stick Wall Decal by Wallmonkeys
Perhaps, deep in her heart, Santos is longing for Paradise, a place of pleasure without pain and worries of having a child.  Well, she can blame this on Adam and Eve.  Had they not disobeyed God, childbearing would have been easy and delivering a child effortless.  There is no need to work and till the soil, because the earth simply brings forth food in abundance.  But because Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying a very simple law not to eat the forbidden fruit, for there is no reason to eat it out of hunger because there are many fruits in the Garden of Eden, then God punished them and removed the perks of being created in His image and likeness:
To the woman he said:  I will intensify your toil in childbearing; in pain* you shall bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. 17 To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it, cursed is the ground* because of you! In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life.h 18 Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you, and you shall eat the grass of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Gen 3:16-19)

B. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1.  "Babies are not blessings" lead to Abortion and Euthanasia


The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Vol. 3: Where All Roads Lead / The Catholic Church and Conversion / Why I Am a Catholic / The Thing / The Well and the Shallows / The Way of the Cross
The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Vol. 3: Where All Roads Lead / The Catholic Church and Conversion / Why I Am a Catholic / The Thing / The Well and the Shallows / The Way of the Cross
All these things that I have written are mere speculations on the thoughts of Santos, because she herself does not define precisely what she really means when she uses the word "blessing".  She moves from one perspective to another--Biblical, Fantasy, and Evolutionary--that it is difficult to pin down on what perspective she really wish to dialogue with others.

Chesterton said that some statements look fresh and appealing, but if we pursue these to their logical end would lead to a disaster:

Now all these false issues have a way of looking quite fresh, especially to a fresh generation. Their first statement always sounds harmless and plausible. I will give only two examples. It sounds harmless to say, as most modern people have said: “Actions are only wrong if they are bad for society.” Follow it out, and sooner or later you will have the inhumanity of a hive or a heathen city, establishing slavery as the cheapest and most certain means of production, torturing the slaves for evidence because the individual is nothing to the State, declaring that an innocent man must die for the people, as did the murderers of Christ. Then, perhaps, you will go back to Catholic definitions, and find that the Church, while she also says it is our duty to work for society, says other things also which forbid individual injustice. Or again, it sounds quite pious to say, “Our moral conflict should end with a victory of the spiritual over the material.” Follow it out, and you may end in the madness of the Manicheans, saying that a suicide is good because it is a sacrifice, that a sexual perversion is good because it produces no life, that the devil made the sun and moon because they are material. Then you may begin to guess why Catholicism insists that there are evil spirits as well as good; and that materials also may be sacred, as in the Incarnation or the Mass, in the sacrament of marriage or the resurrection of the body. (Why I am Catholic by G. K. Chesterton)
The Kermit Gosnell Media Cover-Up: How America's Left-Wing Media Ignored a Horrific Human Rights Story to Avoid Criticizing Abortion [Article]
The Kermit Gosnell Media Cover-Up: How America's Left-Wing Media Ignored a Horrific Human Rights Story to Avoid Criticizing Abortion [Article]
In this light, one of the seemingly harmless and plausible ideas is Santos's claim that "Babies are not blessings" and this statement is addressed to teens, hoping perhaps to convince them to be more responsible by using contraceptives, so that they don't have to worry about the financial burden of raising a child.  So if babies are not blessings, what are they?  The antonym of a blessing is curse.  As Moses told the Israelites:
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:m I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them. (Dt 30:19-20)
Therefore, a baby is a curse, which means many things: (1) contraceptives are good because they prevent the conception of babies, (2) abortion is good because it removes from existence a baby conceived, and (3) infanticide is good because you don't anymore have to worry about financially raising a child.  Santos quotes Guttmacher Institute which we have said earlier is the research arm of Planned Parenthood.  What is the business of Planned Parenthood, whose very name is the thesis of Santos's statements?  Planned Parenthood's business is contraceptives.  But since contraceptives inevitably fail, regardless of how small the chance may be, the next option is abortion.  That is why Planned Parenthood is also in the abortion business.  And haven't we heard about the Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the doctor who got tired of simply just aborting babies in the womb, but extended his services to killing the newborns as well in a method which can only be described as equivalent to the English's capital punishment for those guilty of high treason: hanged,drawn, and quartered.  It is gruesome, yes, but Planned Parenthood wishes to tell you that their abortion business is cleaner and more clinical, without you knowing where the pieces went, for everything just went to a vacuum cleaner that sucks everything--head, hands, feet--and turns them into something like red wine for dinner or Bloody Mary at the bar.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The Policy and Practice of Mercy Killing (International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine)
Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The Policy and Practice of Mercy Killing (International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine)
If finance is the only measure for a blessing and a curse, then what do we do with our old parents who regress to their second childhood?  The costs of hospitalization is great, especially if they are in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after a stroke.  If they recover, then they go out of the hospital and you hire a caregiver, which is also expensive.  Your parents become a drain to your budget as you try to educate them on Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.  And oh, if only you can send them to school to learn not to pee on their pants, eat their lunch, and remember their medications!  So what do we do with our parents?  Do we say, "Parents are not blessings"? and that "to have a parent must be a choice and not by chance"?  But despite our greatest attempts to control everything, we cannot control the simplest thing: who our parents will be.  This is Back to the Future, a movie that is perhaps a greater fantasy fiction than having storks deliver babies.  So what do we do with our parents?  Do we complain to them?  Do we abandon them?  Or do we just simply kill them--these useless eaters who use up the resources of the planet and increase our carbon footprint?  Jesus said of God: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13; c.f. Hos 6:6).  But man invented the concept of mercy-killing or Euthanasia: to sacrifice the old patients who refuse to die before the altars of financial sustainability.  So the Dutch doctors killed their patients legally as an act of mercy provided that the following conditions for Euthanasia are met:

  • the patient's suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement
  • the patient's request for euthanasia must be voluntary and persist over time (the request cannot be granted when under the influence of others, psychological illness or drugs)
  • the patient must be fully aware of his/her condition, prospects and options
  • there must be consultation with at least one other independent doctor who needs to confirm the conditions mentioned above
  • the death must be carried out in a medically appropriate fashion by the doctor or patient, in which case the doctor must be present
  • the patient is at least 12 years old (patients between 12 and 16 years of age require the consent of their parents)


2.  True Sex Education: Preparation for Married Life

Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood
Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood
Santos is an advocate for planned parenthood and the RH Bill.  If we can understand her mind based on the references she cites and considers as authority, the planning for parenthood that she is talking about is actually planning-for-not being-a-parent-hood.  What she is in effectively saying is this:
Ok, teens.  Babies are not blessings but financial burdens.  Can you afford to have a baby?  Of course, you can't, because you do not yet have a job.  But here's something you can afford: a condom or a pill. Very effective for preventing unplanned pregnancies.  And oh, in case you forgot to use the contraceptive before that wonderful night with a stranger you just met last night at the bar--oh, boy, he's really hot that your panties and bras loosen and fall by themselves without you knowing it--here's Plan B, something that you can take the morning after.  Still pregnant?  And your hot boyfriend cools off and you're left in the cold?  And what will your parents say? That you're a bitch? Here's Plan C...
But Planned Parenthood has hijacked the meaning of "planned parenthood" in the same way it hijacked the meaning of "reproductive health" to mean opposite to what it should be: "unreproductive health," which consists of all those phrases that they put in the RH Law to obfuscate the meaning of reproductive health:
(p) Reproductive Health (RH) refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a responsible, safe, consensual and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. This further implies that women and men attain equal relationships in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.
Strong Foundations: A Marriage Preparation Program for Catholic Couples (Couple's Book)
Strong Foundations: A Marriage Preparation Program for Catholic Couples (Couple's Book)
But what is the original meaning of planned parenthood?  The original meaning is simply this: you help others plan to become a parent.  And what does this planning require?  You teach young men and women the skills to become a good father and a good mother.  Traditionally, men are taught crafts to earn a living, such as taught how to build a house and how to farm; while women are taught how to cook, sew, and manage family budgets.  In fact, the Bible speaks of a good wife as a blessing to her husband:
Happy the husband of a good wife;* the number of his days will be doubled.a 2 A loyal wife brings joy to her husband, and he will finish his years in peace. 3 A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the Lord.b 4 Whether rich or poor, his heart is content, a smile ever on his face. A gracious wife delights her husband; her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones... 14 A silent wife is a gift from the Lord; nothing is worth more than her self-discipline. 15 A modest wife is a supreme blessing; no scales can weigh the worth of her chastity. 16 The sun rising in the Lord’s heavens—the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home.17 The light which shines above the holy lampstand—*a beautiful face on a stately figure. 18 Golden columns on silver bases—so her shapely legs and steady feet. (Sir 26:1-18)

It is in this complementary gender roles of a husband and wife that rear a child.  The costs may be high, but if the man has prepared for marriage, he would then have a job to finance the hospital bills and educational expenses.  The pain of delivery may be great and long vigils may be needed to feed a baby, but if the woman is prepared for marriage, she expects these things to happen and says, "Bring it on!"  Planned Parenthood has made cowards of us all, by making us shirk from the responsibilities of married life.  But as Chesterton says:
Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.




Pampers Sensitive Wipes 7x Box 448 Count
Pampers Sensitive Wipes 7x Box 448 Count

Baby Signs
Baby Signs

Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System, Millennium
Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System, Millennium

Stork Craft Portofino 4-in-1 Fixed Side Convertible Crib and Changer, Espresso
Stork Craft Portofino 4-in-1 Fixed Side Convertible Crib and Changer, Espresso

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