I’m for the RH bill. Let’s get that straight. And no, I’m not Sotto’s whore either. But this whole business about plagiarism is just being capitalized on so shamelessly by some quarters that it’s gotten too ridiculous for comfort.
Obviously, plagiarism is a serious issue, and Sotto should be taken to task for that. But did he really take Pope out of context? This interview belies that notion, despite the interviewer’s determined attempts to get Pope to express support for the RH bill.
The people pushing this interview have, so far as I know, not released a transcript. So, I did a little transcribing of my own.
Noemi Dado – The purpose of writing your article was the harmful effect of chemicals on the gut, but not to discourage the use of the pill, am I right?
Sarah Pope – Well, yes, it’s to discoura- let me, let me clarify. I’ve never used the pill myself, nor will I ever use it. I try to avoid drugs as much as possible. But the effects of the pill are very similar to the effect of antibiotics on the gut. They’re very similar. So, but we’re not go throw away antibiotics are we?
Noemi Dado – No…
Sarah Pope: Are we gonna get rid of antibiotics because there are side effects? No. They’re useful in certain instances, the same with the pill. I want women to understand that there’s health problems with regard to the pill and to be aware of that before they take– don’t take them lightly, do you know what I mean? Don’t just take them because it’s convenient, because it’s easy. You need to really think about it. And think about you’re situation before you take the pill. But if it wor– if it makes sense for you, any downside is outweighed by the benefit to you taking it, then yeah, of course, go ahead and take it.
Dado opened with a leading question and was promptly corrected. Of course, you could see Pope’s hesitation to say that she was discouraging the pill so she quickly launched into a clarification which gave the same net result: she doesn’t believe in the pill, but hell, if you do, then go right ahead.
Does this square with Sotto’s position? I don’t exactly know, but it sounds remarkably similar. As far as I know, Sotto hasn’t been agitating to outlaw the pill, only that he’s against a proposed measure that would promote policies that are “detrimental to the health of a pregnant mother and puts the life of the unborn on the line.”
To say that Sotto took Pope out of context would mean that Pope was FOR the pill, but that Sotto had used her words to say otherwise. This was Dado’s hoped for answer with that leading question of hers. Pope, however, was very clear. She too was against the use of the pill, but would not stand in anyone’s way if they wanted to use it. Kinda like not pushing for a ban, but opposing a move to promote the pill? She’s more Sotto-ish than she might want to admit.
But Dado doesn’t accept that. So she asks:
Noemi Dado – How do you feel that your blog entry was taken out of context and used against the reproductive health rights of women?
Sarah Pope: Well, you know, I think it was very presumptuous of Senator Sotto’s staff to take, you know, material and to twist it for their own personal agenda. That’s probably why they didn’t ask permission – it’s probably one of the reasons they didn’t ask for permission because they probably wouldn’t have gotten it. I don’t want my information to be used for political gain. I want it to go out to the women, to have them use it for their own personal benefit, but not in a political way, that’s not the intention of my blog. It’s not a political blog. It’s a health blog!
Pope quickly pivots to the issue of unattributed and unauthorized use of her material, neatly dodging the “context” issue which she had already responded to. Correctly, in my opinion, she underscores the essentially neutral nature of her material – that it should be used for personal decision making, not political maneuvering.
At this point, I wondered if she wasn’t cringing internally since she – not her material – was precisely being politicized at this point.
Noemi Dado – What do you feel now about the reproductive health stand of our women here?
Sarah Pope – Well, you know I’m not well-versed with what the, you know, situation is over there, I’m not a Filipino. So I’m not really- you know, what my opinion is of the bill, and women’s rights, and what’s going on in the Philippines — I don’t live there, I’ve never even visited the Philippines, so I’m not sure my opinion would be of any value whatsoever.
Of course, Dado refuses to take that as an indication that Pope is trying to stay out of the fray – except of course for the plagiarism issue – so she hits the blogger with a blurb she had given earlier:
“Women of the Philippines: I am terribly sorry my blog was used and twisted against you. You deserve the choice to use The Pill if you want or need to based on your particular circumstances.”
And snuck in this comment: “It went against the speech of Senator Sotto,” which Pope again conveniently ignored. However, by this point in the interview, Pope was ready to wale on Sotto for being a plagiarist; against which I have absolutely no objections.
So what was the point of the interview?
From Dado’s point of view, it’s pretty clear that she wanted Pope to endorse the RH Bill. Of course, considering Pope’s works, she would have been unlikely to come out in defense of the pill. I wonder why Dado missed that.
From Pope’s point of view on the other hand, the woman clearly was more concerned with the theft of her work, especially since she took great pains to stick to motherhood sentiments about how women should be given a choice to use the pill or not.
Like I said at the top, I am for the RH Bill. But in my support of that measure, I’m not quite so desperate as to try so determinedly to make it appear that this foreign woman is on our side. That is unfair to her and just poor form for us. What Sotto did was terrible, and he should be made to pay for it electorally. Don’t ever vote for him if he runs again, even if only for Quezon City councilor. But be that as it may, I think the quote did establish a solid foundation for his arguments such as they were.
In fact, I have not heard RH bill advocates go into any great detail about the detrimental effects of using the pill, except only to say that the pill should be used only upon proper consultation with a physician. If Sotto was pointing out that that strategy is misleading, well, that’s his opinion. Advocates of the Bill, however, must acknowledge that his opinion is not his alone and that the cause would be greatly benefited by addressing his points directly, rather than dwelling on collateral issues and, ultimately, being more popish than Pope.