For Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, the fight against the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill just became personal.
"My wife Helen and I, nawalan po kami ng anak dahil sa contraceptives," Sotto said during his speech in the Senate Monday assailing the RH bill, or Senate Bill No. 2865 also known as An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population Development.
Sotto recalled that in 1974 his wife still became pregnant even though she was taking contraceptives. "She gave birth to my real first son whom we named Vincent Paul in March 13, 1975 at the Makati Medical Center," he said.
But the senator said his first-born son was born with a weak heart. He also supposedly needed occasional blood transfusions. "I visited him every day. I went to the nursery every day. But before that I always go to the chapel, pray and pray for him and go visit him... [but] after five months he passed away," he said. Sotto added that Monday was also his son's death anniversary as he died August 13, 1975.
After revealing that his baby was born with a weak heart, Sotto said there was no other explanation for his son's condition other than contraceptives. "Wala sila [mga doktor] makita na dahilan kung bakit nagkaganun yung bata kundi dahil nagcocontraceptives yung asawa ko. Nabuntis pa rin kahit gumagamit ng contraceptives," he said. "That's why kaya binanggit ko kanina Mr. President hindi trabaho ito sa akin, personalan to. Sabi ng Makati Medical Center namatay ang dahilan paggamit ng misis ko ng contraceptives. Even her doctor admits to that fact," he said.
Sotto likened his experience to what happened to Senators Lito Lapid and Pia Cayetano, who have also both lost children. The latter is incidentally one of the sponsors of the RH bill in the Senate. "Nalulungkot po ako marinig sa kanila yun but the truth is parang nainggit pa nga ako, Mr. President, dahil mabuti pa nga sila nahawakan nila. Yung anak ko five months ni hindi ko nahipo, nahawakan ko patay na," he said. At first, he could not understand why his son had to die. But the emergence of the RH bill made it clear to him that opposing the bill would be his life’s mission. After his emotional speech, Sotto decided to continue his "Turno En Contra" on another day.
She noted, however, that their experiences were different. She explained that Sotto attributes the illness and eventual death of his son to contraceptives but she lost her child even without that supposed factor. "I got pregnant but my son did have a chromosomal disorder and, maybe similar to his son, he also had a heart problem. In the 70s they did not have the capacity to diagnose it the way they did when my child was born in 2000," she said.
This, she said, is why the country needs to mandate maternal health care. "This is the other side of a story that is true," she said, adding that the negative effects of contraceptives always depend on how they are used.
Sources & Image Credit: ABS-CBN and GMA News and Everything in Budget Blog