Monday, March 31, 2014

4 things you can do before Supreme Court decides on the RH Law

RED Movement's poster against the RH Law
RED Movement's poster against the RH Law
Greetings of Peace!

The Supreme Court will be deciding the constitutionality of the RH Law on April 8, 2014.  This is a moment of great importance for Filipinos and Catholics.  Let us unite as a nation upholding life, marriage and the Filipino family on April 7 and 8.  We suggest we do the following during these days:

  1. Recite the Oratio Imperata against the RH Bill at the end of each mass. 
  2. Send a delegation from your parish or community to the Supreme Court in Baguio (near Victory Liner Terminal) of this landmark decision, to join us in prayer.
  3. Ring church bells for Angelus on the 7th and on the 8th at 12 noon.
  4. Put red ribbons in front of your churches, cars, offices and homes.
Please pass this information along to your friends and friends of friends.  Together, we will pray for victory against the forces of the Culture of Death, and hand in hand let us defend and uphold life.  For inquiries please call us at 7337027 or email us atlife@prolife.org.ph.

Respectfully,

RED Movement (Respect, Enhance, Defend Life)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

3 reasons why Daniel Padilla should give up his relationship with Kathryn Bernardo

We read from Yahoo Celebrity Philippines that converting from Catholic to Iglesia ni Cristo is an option for Daniel Padilla for the sake of Kathryn Bernardo:
 Daniel Padilla respects Kathryn Bernardo's religious beliefs, but he would rather let nature take its course when it comes to having a relationship with her. Kathryn, a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo church, said in a previous press conference that she can’t have a relationship with someone who does not belong to the same faith. This can be a problem for Daniel, who was born and raised a Catholic. Is he willing to convert for Kathryn? ...Daniel replied, "Sa future na lang po natin (mapapagdesisyunan iyan). Tignan na lang po natin kung anong pwedeng mangyayari sa future. Siguro hindi pa ako makakapag-decide ngayon. Pero siyempre open naman ako. Diyos pa rin iyon. Bakit naman aayawan." Daniel thinks religion should not be an issue in relationships. “Hindi issue iyon. Ano lang iyan, hindi tayo puwede magdesisyon ngayon."
There are several reasons why Daniel Padilla should give up his real-life relationship with Kathryn Bernardo (if such really exists and not just for the movies) to save his Catholic Faith:

 1. Catholics and Iglesia ni Cristo do not agree on the nature of Christ

Catholics believe that Christ is both human and divine, because he is the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, that was made Flesh:
In the beginning* was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.a 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 * All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. ... And the Word became flesh* and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:1-14)
For the Iglesia ni Cristo, the Word here is just a plan or a thought of God and not the Second Person of the Trinity.  This passage in the Gospel of John is interpreted by INC as the fulfillment of God's plan.  For the INC, Jesus is only a mere human just like Felix Manalo.

A religion that teaches Christ is God could never be equally true with a religion that denies his divinity.  There is only one truth, and man could not live upholding two opposites as truth.  As Christ said: "No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other." (Mt 6:24). Eternal life is at stake.  You cannot go to heaven by saying Christ is God and at the same time saying that He is not.  As Christ said: "By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mt 12:37).  He also said: "I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Jn 14:6).

2. Both the Catholic Church and Iglesia ni Cristo requires that the children will be raised in their respective religions

Iglesia ni Cristo does not allow marriage between an INC member and a non-INC member.  On the other hand, the Catholic Church allows mixed marriages provided the following Canon Laws are satisfied:
  • MIXED MARRIAGES 
  •  Can. 1124 Without express permission of the competent authority, a marriage is prohibited between two baptized persons of whom one is baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is enrolled in a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church. 
  •  Can. 1125 The local ordinary can grant a permission of this kind if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions have been fulfilled: 1/ the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church; 2/ the other party is to be informed at an appropriate time about the promises which the Catholic party is to make, in such a way that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party; 3/ both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage which neither of the contracting parties is to exclude. 

  •  Can. 1126 It is for the conference of bishops to establish the method in which these declarations and promises, which are always required, must be made and to define the manner in which they are to be established in the external forum and the non-Catholic party informed about them. §3. It is forbidden to have another religious celebration of the same marriage to give or renew matrimonial consent before or after the canonical celebration according to the norm of §1. Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the Catholic who is assisting and a non-Catholic minister together, using their own rites, ask for the consent of the parties....  
  • Can. 1128 Local ordinaries and other pastors of souls are to take care that the Catholic spouse and the children born of a mixed marriage do not lack the spiritual help to fulfill their obligations and are to help spouses foster the unity of conjugal and family life.
As you can see, these laws of the Catholic Church are unacceptable to the INC.  Thus, Daniel and Kathryn could never hope to get married unless one of them converts to the other's religion.

 3. It easier to give up the relationship now than later

It is easier for both Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo to give up their relationship now and treat each other as just like their other friends.  If they are serious in making their relationship last up to marriage and beyond, until death parts them, then they must use the time to study their own faiths and talk about them objectively, without being entangled in a romantic relationship.  The nature of Christ would be a source of endless debates not only between  Daniel and Kathryn, but also of their children and their families.  The tension and animosity shall only simmer down if one of them converts to the other's religion.
Must Be Love Filipino DVD (2013) Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla
Must Be Love Filipino DVD (2013) Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla

The Absurd Claims and Biggest Mistakes of the Iglesia ni Cristo [ INC ]
The Absurd Claims and Biggest Mistakes of the Iglesia ni Cristo [ INC ]

New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law: Study Edition
New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law: Study Edition

The Catholic Girl's Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right
The Catholic Girl's Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right

Canon Law of Marriage and the Family
Canon Law of Marriage and the Family
The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Catholicism
The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Catholicism



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Angsioco's grammatical error regarding percentages: Comparison with Guttmacher Institute and Population Commission

Angsioco's Twitter posts dated 28 March 2014
Angsioco's Twitter posts dated 28 March 2014

In my previous post entitled, How numbers and statistics can lie: a response to Elizabeth Angsioco, I showed how Angsioco misinterpreted the statistics with her following statement:
  • "85 percent of respondents have gotten pregnant 1,933 times.
Twitter For Dummies
Twitter For Dummies
 Angsioco could have easily corrected her article by changing the wording of her statement into "1,933 is the sum of the number of pregnancies of each of the 528 respondents, [so that] the average number of pregnancies per woman in this group is 3.66 pregnancies" as I have suggested in my article.  Surprisingly, she still insisted on her own interpretation of her own words, as the screen grab of her Twitter account @bethangsioco dated 28 March shows:
  • "Accusing me of trying to make people believe that a woman can give birth almost 2k times is ridiculous.  Also, I ain't that dumb."
  • "It's absurd if u can even believe that I can make people think that a woman can give birth almost 2k times. It's actually funny."
If we assume that Angsioco did not intend to bloat the numbers, then I think this is a case wherein we need to review our use of the English language, especially in describing percentages.  

Inconceivable: A Woman's Triumph over Despair and Statistics
Inconceivable: A Woman's Triumph over Despair and Statistics
Let us look at three examples of sentence constructions involving the pattern "[number] percent of [group] have [something]", starting with Angsioco's statement:
  1. "85 percent of respondents have gotten pregnant 1,933 times." (Angsioco, Numbers Don't Lie, Manila Standard Today, 22 March 2014)
  2. "In 2008, there were 54 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15–44. In other words, about 5% of reproductive-age women have an unintended pregnancy each year." (Fact Sheet: Unintended Pregnancy in the United States by Guttmacher Institute) 
  3. "In the Philippines, 12 percent of adolescents aged 15-19 have experienced pre-marital sex.(Source: Zablan, Marquez and Laguna, 2003) (From: "World Population Day 2013 is focused on Adolescent Pregnancy" by the Philippine Commission on Population).  
In statement 2, there is only one unintended pregnancy (because of the article "an") after the word "have," even though there were 54 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15-44.  What follows after "have" refers to the characteristic possessed by the average woman in the group and not to that of the whole group.  If we follow Angsioco's sentence construction, then the independent clause should have been "about 5% of 1,000 reproductive-age women have 54 unintended pregnancies each year."

In statement 3, the phrase after "have" describes only the average adolescent aged 15-19 regarding her experience of pre-marital sex. If we follow Angsioco's sentence construction, then this sentence should have been "12 percent of adolescents aged 15-19 have experienced [several cases of] pre-marital sex."

On the other hand, if the sentence constructions of Guttmacher Institute and the Population Commission are correct, then what follows the "have" is the property of the average characteristic in the group, so that Angsioco's statement should be revised as follows:
  • "85 percent of respondents have gotten pregnant 3.66 times."
The reason for this is that there were 621 respondents and 85% of 621 is 528.  Since the sum of all pregnancies of each individual member of the 528 respondents is 1,933 pregnancies, then the pregnancy rate in this group is 1,933/528 =  3.66 pregnancies per woman.

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
So we are now faced with two choices:
  1. Angsioco's sentence construction is correct, while that of Guttmacher Institute and Population Commission are wrong
  2. Angsioco's sentence construction is wrong, while that of Guttmacher Institute and Population Commision are correct.
In either case, since Angsioco, Guttmacher Institute, and the Population Commission are all supporters of the RH Law, then the pro-RH Law groups will have to argue among themselves on whose grammar is correct.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How numbers and statistics can lie: a response to Elizabeth Angsioco

Payatas dump site (2007).  Photo by Kounosu in Wikipedia.
In her article in Manila Standard Today entitled, Numbers Don't Lie, Elizabeth Angsioco enumerated statistics that her group obtained from Payatas, Quezon City.  Payatas is the poster barangay of poverty, with people living in garbage dumps.  The purpose of this statistics is primarily to convince the Supreme Court to pass the RH Law in order to address the worsening maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy.

There are a some statistics that appear alarming at first sight.  I'll highlight only the following:
Your Pregnancy & Newborn Journey: A Guide for Pregnant Teens (Teen Pregnancy and Parenting series)
Your Pregnancy & Newborn Journey: A Guide for Pregnant Teens (Teen Pregnancy and Parenting series)
  1. 85 percent of respondents have gotten pregnant 1,933 times. 
  2. Respondents know of 422 cases of these complications and 298 incidences of maternal mortality. 
  3. 123 respondents (23 percent) experienced 148 cases of miscarriages.
  4. 27 percent had health problems during pregnancy with 42 percent suffering from serious problems. 
  5. 14 percent had childbirth complications and almost half of them said their lives were put at risk.
  6. The women know of 1,556 cases of teen-age pregnancies in their areas. 64 percent happened before the girls turned 15 while 16 of the girls got pregnant before they reached 13 years old.
  7. The first pregnancy of more than 50 percent (who have gotten pregnant) happened before they were 22 years old. The first childbirth of 36 percent of those who have given birth was when they were 16-20 with ten births when respondents were 11-15 years old. 
These statistics provide a good example on how to use or misuse statistics:

1. Do not substitute the whole for the part

Teenage Pregnancy: The Making and Unmaking of a Problem (Health & Society)
Teenage Pregnancy: The Making and Unmaking of a Problem (Health & Society)
In statement 1, "85 percent of respondents have gotten pregnant 1,933 times" is deceiving.  It is made to appear that each respondent got pregnant 1,933 times, which is a large number.  Of course, this number is ridiculous, because a woman releases only about 400 mature eggs for fertilization starting at her puberty until her menopausal stage.  To interpret the number 1,933 properly, we must take 85% of the number of respondents 621, which is 528.  If our hunch is correct that 1,933 is the sum of the number of pregnancies of each of the 528 respondents, then the average number of pregnancies per woman in this group is 3.66 pregnancies, which is not really big, considering that the desired number of children of the respondents in the survey is about 3 children per woman.

A similar case is statement 3, "123 respondents (23 percent) experienced 148 cases of miscarriages."  If our hunch is correct, what this statement should have been is that "Each of the 123 respondents  experienced about 148/123 = 1.2 miscarriages."

2. Make sure that you do not count the same thing twice
Death in Childbirth: An International Study of Maternal Care and Maternal Mortality 1800-1950
Death in Childbirth: An International Study of Maternal Care and Maternal Mortality 1800-1950

In statement 4, we read: "Respondents know of 422 cases of these complications and 298 incidences of maternal mortality."

We know that there were only 14% of the 621 respondents which experienced childbirth complications, and this amounts to 621(0.14) = 87 women, which is far smaller than the 422 cases.  What could have happened is that for each woman who experienced complication, 422/87 = 4.85 or about 5 respondents remembered it.  This number is essentially the number of neighboring families who knew about the pregnancy complication of their neighbor.  Thus, the same incident is recorded 5 times.  This is quintuplication of data.

We can make the same analysis and show that the 298 incidences of maternal mortality remembered by the respondents is just 298/4.85 = 61 deaths.

Another similar case is statement 6: "The women know of 1,556 cases of teen-age pregnancies in their areas."  If our neighborhood hypothesis of quintuplication is correct, we can estimate the actual number of teen-age pregnancies to actually be 1,556/4.85 = 321 pregnancies, which is roughly half the number of 621 respondents.  This may roughly coincide with 64 percent pregnancies that happened before the girls turned 15.

3. Define your terms and variables

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies: Expert Consult - Online and Print, 6e (Obstetrics Normal and Problem Preqnancies)
Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies: Expert Consult - Online and Print, 6e (Obstetrics Normal and Problem Preqnancies)
In statement 4, we read: "27 percent had health problems during pregnancy with 42 percent suffering from serious problems."  What are these health problem? Are these problems normally associated with pregnancy such as headache?  We need to define these things precisely.

In statement 7, we read: "The first pregnancy of more than 50 percent (who have gotten pregnant) happened before they were 22 years old. The first childbirth of 36 percent of those who have given birth was when they were 16-20 with ten births when respondents were 11-15 years old."  I thought Angsioco is trying to measure teenage pregnancy.  At what age is teenage pregnancy? Is it when the woman got pregnant before the ideal age of 22? Or is it when she got pregnant when she is 13-19 years old?

Conclusions

The statistics published by Angsioco are plagued with defects. Numbers can lie, especially in the hands of two kinds of authors:
  1. Those who do not know how to collect and interpret data 
  2. Those who know how to collect and interpret data. but intentionally wish to deceive in order to push a particular agenda. 


Friday, March 7, 2014

To Secretary Ona of DOH: Are miscarriages abortions?

Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America
Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America
A. DOH Releases Abortion Statistics

DOH published another set of statistics regarding abortion in the country:
DOH data showed that based on OB-GYNE admissions of abortion cases in 2013, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center ranked number one with 1,915 abortion cases, up from 1,552 cases in 2012; followed by East Avenue Medical Center, 1,819 cases (1,511 in 2012); Quirino Memorial Medical Center, 1,272 (1,247); Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, 1,240 (1,274 in 2012); Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Medical Center, 869 (891 in 2012); Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, 635 (825); Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, 624 (761 in 2012); Tondo Medical Center, 508 (586 in 2012); Cagayan Valley Medical Center, 438 (383 in 2012). (Manila Times)
But the DOH interpreted this statistics as showing the need for contraceptives for family planning:
“Let’s stop abortion. Pregnancy can be a welcome phase for any woman and her partner, if it comes as planned and without any complications".... Ona underscored that women and their partners should have the knowledge of sex education along various strategies such as abstinence and use of contraceptives such as condom to avoid unplanned pregnancies.
In advertising, this technique is called reframing: to put a set of facts under a different perspective in order to push one's agenda.  For this case, the agenda of DOH is to compel the Supreme Court to vote in favor of the RH Law--not because of its constitutionality, but because the law would help prevent unwanted pregnancies.  So if there are no pregnancies there is nothing to abort, and the abortion rate goes down.  Or so it seemed.

Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles: Everything You Need to Know about Miscarriage
Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles: Everything You Need to Know about Miscarriage
B. Redefining Abortion and Miscarriage

DOH appears to be redefining the term abortion here in the same way as the RH Law redefined the phrase reproductive health to include more than reproduction:
(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. (RH Law, Section 4, Definition of Terms)
How did DOH try to redefine abortion? DOH tried to redefine abortion by lumping miscarriages as abortions in the same way as Guttmacher Institute classified miscarriages as "spontaneous abortions":
Ona, however, clarified that the data contain both induced and spontaneous abortions or miscarriages.
“These are only gross figures but for me it also gives you a picture of the high number of abortions in the country, whether induced or spontaneous. We can assume from these numbers that there are very high number of unplanned pregnancies that end up with induced abortion and this is what we want to avoid,” he said. Induced abortions are done using instruments or by drinking medicine. Ona said about 12 to 15 percent “or maybe a little bit higher” pregnancies end in miscarriage. (Philippine Star)
This is a sleight of hand for the unwary.

Miscarriages have the original connotation of unintentional, while abortion have the connotation of intentional.  These are two different words: intention separates them.  One doesn't need to define a new phrase "spontaneous abortion" when there is a handy and shorter word for it: miscarriage.  And one does not need to define induced abortion, because abortion already assumes the word "induced".  Well, this may just be a matter of philosophy, but words define a worldview, and if we are not careful with our words, we shall order our actions and that of the whole society based on the worldview defined by the words we choose.  As Laozi said:
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Misoprostol in Midtrimester Termination of Pregnancy: Oral and Vaginal Misoprostol in Midtrimester Termination of Pregnancy
Misoprostol in Midtrimester Termination of Pregnancy: Oral and Vaginal Misoprostol in Midtrimester Termination of Pregnancy
C. Critique of DOH's Statistical Analysis

Let us look at the 12 to 15 percent of pregnancies ending up as miscarriages.  These are spontaneous abortions according to DOH terminology. But DOH provided no statistic about induced abortions.  So if we make our distinction between miscarriage and abortion, then DOH showed only statistics on miscarriages and zero on abortion.  So what DOH further said has no statistical basis, unless you agree to classify miscarriages as abortion:
The data shows us that abortion is happening in our midst more likely because there are women who lack the proper information on how to deal with high-risk or complicated pregnancies.
Here are several questions that may serve as guide for DOH in designing a methodology in order to interpret the abortion statistics more precisely.  These questions should be answered by each patient together with the attending physician:
  1.  Did the woman take medicines that are abortifacients?  
  2. Did the woman perform certain actions that cause the fetus to be expelled prematurely?  
  3. Did the woman plan to have her baby or not?
  4. Was the woman and her partner using contraceptives like pills and condoms? 
  5. How frequently were these used?
  6. Was the woman's pregnancy a high risk or complicated?
  7. Did the woman know that her pregnancy is high-risk or complicated?
There is already a wealth of information that can be obtained from the statistical analysis of the replies to these seven questions. The first two questions would determine whether the fetal death was due to miscarriage or abortion.  The third question would determine whether the child was unwanted or not.  The fourth and fifth questions would determine the contraceptive used and their usage frequency; the study would then be able to determine precisely the contraceptive failure rate.  The sixth question would determine the chance of survival of the fetus.  And the seventh question would determine the knowledge of the women that regarding their pregnancy complications.  The answers to these questions would determine whether Sec. Ona's conclusion is valid or not.

Emergency Contraception: The Story of a Global Reproductive Health Technology
Emergency Contraception: The Story of a Global Reproductive Health Technology
D. If DOH is really against abortion

It should be the DOH's job to determine precisely the causes of fetal deaths and propose ways to eliminate these deaths one by one by addressing each of the possible causes.  If Mifepristone and Cynotec are recommended by Women on Waves and World Health Organization for the first trimestral abortion, then it is the duty of DOH to ban these abortifacients in pharmaceuticals.  In turn, it is the doctor's duty to admonish his patients that use these abortifacients in the hope that they can complete their abortion in the doctor's clinic.  Actually this is one possible mechanism for making abortion available to the Philippines through the RH Law, despite abortion's unconstitutionality:
(j) While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortive complications and all other complications arising from pregnancy, labor and delivery and related issues shall be treated and counseled in a humane, nonjudgmental and compassionate manner in accordance with law and medical ethics; (RH Law, Section 3)
Thus, if DOH is really against abortion, then DOH must ban abortifacients (deceptively labeled as emergency contraception), prevent Women on Waves from entering the Philippine waters, admonish World Health Organization for recommending abortion as a treatment of pregnancy which is never a disease, and fight against the implementation of the RH Law.