Supporting the RH Bill

I very rarely post something personal or heartwarming or gag inducing in this blog because I want this to be a constant channel for all things simple and nice and pretty.

But upon reading Beth Angsioco’s article at Manila Standard, I can’t help feeling injustice and anger.

I am 26 years old. Most of you will say that is a fairly young age and I will most likely fight my inner sociopath and agree with you. But at age 26, I am now a grandmother. Kill me.

My 15-year-old niece gave birth just recently to a bouncing baby boy. As much as I appreciate and value the blessing that is life, I cannot find in me the joy that often sets in when a baby is brought in this world.

I feel angry. I feel my niece was deprived of so many things. 2012 is supposed to be her first year in college, but instead she will be massaging her nipples and making sure her breastmilk is in constant supply. Instead of signing up for orgs and classes and meeting inspiring professors and lecturers, she will be changing diapers and tuning in to elders how to properly burp a baby. Instead of sleepless nights brought about by cramming for book reports and term papers, it’ll be because he can’t find the sweet spot in his crib or he’s hungry or he can’t sleep and she has to cradle him till the wee hours of the morning.

Please don’t get me wrong; I am not demeaning the process and life of being a mother. I know nothing can match the joy of having your baby smile at you for the first time. Or that intoxicating baby smell atop their heads. Or that cute fart that sounds more like a dysfunctional whopee cushion. Or those little fingers holding your thumb. I have witnessed the joys of being a mother.

It’s just that, at 15, it’s not really the life I imagined for her.

And she’s not a unique case. When Dylan worked for a secondary government hospital a few years ago, I can barely keep up with the number of times he said a 14-year-old gave birth today. It didn’t break my heart then, only slightly sad, but now that my family is one of those cases, I am just torn.

My niece is a smart girl. She has constantly performed well in school. Whenever we get together, her parents are boastful of her accomplishments. They reward her well, they developed a business to better sustain them, they’re a closely knit working family unit. So when they announced that she got pregnant, I knew that there are conversations that remain taboo even in the most progressive Filipino households.

If only they talked to her about sex and self-preservation. If only the school is more open and less mocking of reproductive health. If only we as a family looked out for each other better. If only topics on sexuality and sensuality are not viewed with malice. Maybe — just maybe — by this time, I could have been helping her choose between Sylia Plath and Jane Austen.

I am excited to meet my grandson. He looks like his uncle, age 5. I’m sure he’s going to be amazing and smart and funny, just like his mother. I also know that the entire family will raise this child. And they will love him more than themselves.

And I will badger my niece to go back to school and kick ass.

To all RH Bill advocates and sponsors, please please please do not ever waver, do not get tired! Health information and education is not just a necessity; it is a RIGHT. Please keep fighting for our rights. I promise you I have your back. I will fight for you in turn.

Pass the RH Bill NOW. We don’t need another batch of 15-year-old mothers. PASS THE RH BILL NOW.

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