22 Dec The Gravity of Motherhood
It’s funny that we live in a world where basic questions such as this one have to be asked. With regard to motherhood, it is a woman who has to live with the consequences, demands, responsibilities, and obligations of being a mother.
Ideally, the state will have measures installed to prevent the abandonment of both children and mothers. Currently, in the Philippines, the concept of child support is covered in Articles 195 and 196 of the Family Code. It enumerates people who are under obligation to provide each other support and assistance.
According to the article, “Legal Support for the Child and R. A. 9262“:
Articles 195 and 196 of the Family Code enumerate the persons who are under obligation to support each other, thus: (1) The spouses; (2) Legitimate ascendants and descendants; (3) Parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; (4) Parents and their illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; (5) Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood; and (6) Brothers and sisters not legitimately related, whether of the full or half-blood, except only when the need for support of the brother or sister, being of age, is due to a cause imputable to the claimant’s fault or negligence.
However, there are a lot of issues concerning the implementation of this law. In fact, it is not clearly indicated what kind of retribution a father who abandons his wife and children will receive. The bill to penalize a father’s refusal to provide child support has only been pushed as recent as November of 2015.
In a Philstar article, Rosette Adel, reports on the authorship of the said bill.
“Manila Rep. Rosenda Ocampo, also vice chair of the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture, on Games and Amusement and on Natural Resources, authored House Bill (HB) 6079 to penalize parents who neglect their responsibility of giving child support without justifiable cause.”
In the same article, Ocampo provides the justification for the filing of the bill. She was quoted to have said that, “Apart from the emotional trauma, the parent who has custody of the child is left with the difficult task of single-handedly raising the child or children.”
It’s very clear that the legal mechanisms to ensure that a mother is given support are lacking.
Although there are policies that, ideally, are meant to support mothers, there are still many who suffer from abandonment.
This brings us back to the issue of choice, freedom, and personal autonomy.
If the state does not have the means to ensure that a pregnant woman or a woman with children will be cared for, why do they get to decide for the woman whether or not she’ll have children?
In the Philippines, women are not allowed to have access to safe and legal abortion. In other words, a woman, as soon as she becomes pregnant, loses agency over her own body. Suddenly, it belongs to society and the state. Suddenly, she is forced to become a mother, and bear the burden of being one, whether or not she wants to be one.
It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy came as a result of defective contraceptives. It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted. It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy was the consequence of incest or rape.
So, once again, we have to ask the important questions:
If motherhood is so serious, why can’t a woman decide for herself whether or not she wants to be one?
And, more importantly:
Why is the government permitted to enforce a choice about motherhood on a woman?
Adel, Rosette. (2015, November 8), “Bill penalizing refusal to give child support pushed.” Philstar. Retrieved on: December 5, 2017.
Philippine e-Legal Forum. (2006, July 22), “Legal Support for the Child and R. A. 9262.” JLP-Law Blog. Retrieved on: December 5, 2017.