Search and You Shall Find in My World

03 August 2008

Philippines' Reproductive Health Bill: Facts, Fallacies

So many debates among the so called pro-life and Roman Catholic defenders and the initiators of the reproductive health bill. Of course, we blindly follow what others told us, because we "fear God" in a very parochial way.

I therefore copied this article from to help us understand what the author of the reproductive bill is trying to push through. No other man can shed light to the controversy but the author himself, Rep. Edcel Lagman. Emphasis is mine.

THE BILL IS NATIONAL IN SCOPE, COMPREHENSIVE, rights-based and provides adequate funding to the population program. It is a departure from the present setup in which the provision for reproductive health services is devolved to local government units, and consequently, subjected to the varying strategies of local government executives and suffers from a dearth of funding.

The reproductive health (RH) bill promotes information on and access to both natural and modern family planning methods, which are medically safe and legally permissible. It assures an enabling environment where women and couples have the freedom of informed choice on the mode of family planning they want to adopt based on their needs, personal convictions and religious beliefs.

The bill does not have any bias for or against either natural or modern family planning. Both modes are contraceptive methods. Their common purpose is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The bill will promote sustainable human development. The UN stated in 2002 that “family planning and reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty.” The Unicef also asserts that “family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.”

Coverage of RH. (1) Information and access to natural and modern family planning (2) Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition (3) Promotion of breast feeding (4) Prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications (5) Adolescent and youth health (6) Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS and STDs (7) Elimination of violence against women (8) Counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health (9) Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers (10) Male involvement and participation in RH; (11) Prevention and treatment of infertility and (12) RH education for the youth.

Strengthening of Popcom. The existing Population Commission shall be reoriented to promote both natural and modern family planning methods. It shall serve as the central planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring body for the comprehensive and integrated policy on reproductive health and population development.

Capability building of community-based volunteer workers. The workers shall undergo additional and updated training on the delivery of reproductive healthcare services and shall receive not less than 10-percent increase in honoraria upon successful completion of training.

Midwives for skilled birth attendance. Every city and municipality shall endeavor to employ an adequate number of midwives and other skilled attendants.

Emergency obstetrics care. Each province and city shall endeavor to ensure the establishment and operation of hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel that provide emergency obstetrics care.

Hospital-based family planning. Family planning methods requiring hospital services like ligation, vasectomy and IUD insertion shall be available in all national and local government hospitals.

Contraceptives as essential medicines. Reproductive health products shall be considered essential medicines and supplies and shall form part of the National Drug Formulary considering that family planning reduces the incidence of maternal and infant mortality.

Reproductive health education. RH education in an age-appropriate manner shall be taught by adequately trained teachers from Grade 5 to 4th year high school. As proposed in the bill, core subjects include responsible parenthood, natural and modern family planning, proscription and hazards of abortion, reproductive health and sexual rights, abstinence before marriage, and responsible sexuality.

Certificate of compliance. No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office. The document should certify that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on family planning, responsible parenthood, breast feeding and infant nutrition.

Ideal family size. The State shall encourage two children as the ideal family size. This is neither mandatory nor compulsory and no punitive action may be imposed on couples having more than two children.

Employers’ responsibilities. Employers shall respect the reproductive health rights of all their workers. Women shall not be discriminated against in the matter of hiring, regularization of employment status or selection for retrenchment. Employers shall provide free reproductive health services and commodities to workers, whether unionized or unorganized.

Multimedia campaign. Popcom shall initiate and sustain an intensified nationwide multimedia campaign to raise the level of public awareness on the urgent need to protect and promote reproductive health and rights.

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