It’s been almost 14years since RH bill was proposed to congress in 1988; countless debates have been going on ever since on whether it would really benefit the country and our people?
The CBCP and Roman Catholic Church strongly protest the bill because it’s immoral and according to them will set the stage for other anti-life laws or so-called D.E.A.T.H. bills (acronym for death, euthanasia, abortion, two-child policy, and homosexuality).
On the other hand President Aquino and some members of Congress believe that the bill will promote sustainable human development in the country, it is needed to reduce high birthrates among the poor. The United Nations stated in 2002 that “family planning and reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty”.
What is RH Bill?
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.
It proposes that the Philippine government and the private sector will fund and undertake widespread distribution of family planning devices such as condoms, birth control pills (BCPs) and IUDs.
Coverage of the RH Bill:
- Information and access to natural and modern family planning.
- Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition.
- Promotion of breast feeding.
- Prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications.
- Adolescent and youth health.
- Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS and STDs.
- Elimination of violence against women.
- Counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health.
- Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers.
- Male involvement and participation in RH.
- Prevention and treatment of infertility.
- Age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education from fifth grade to high school.
Support and Criticism of the RH Bill:
Those that support the RH argue that:
- Economic studies, especially the experience in Asia show that rapid population growth and high fertility rates, especially among the poor, exacerbate poverty and make it harder for the government to address it.
- Empirical studies show that poverty incidence is higher among big families. Smaller families and wider birth intervals could allow families to invest more in each child’s education, health, and nutrition which will eventually reduce poverty and hunger at the household level.
- Maternal deaths could be reduced if they had access to basic healthcare and essential minerals like iron and calcium, according to the DOH.
- Studies show that 44% of the pregnancies in poor families are unanticipated, and among the poorest women who would like to avoid pregnancy at least 41% do not use any contraceptive method because of lack of information or access. “Among the poorest families, 22% of married women of reproductive age express a desire to avoid pregnancies but are still not using any family planning method.
- Use of contraception, which the World Health Organization has listed as essential medicines, will lower the rate of abortions as it has done in other parts of the world, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
- An SWS survey of 2008 showed that 71% of the respondents are in favor of the bill.
- At the heart of the bill is the free choice given to people on the use of reproductive health, enabling the people, especially the poor to have the number of children they want and can care for.
Those that oppose the RH Bill argue that:
- “The world’s leading scientific experts” have resolved the issues related to the bill and show that the “RH Bill is based on wrong economics” as the 2003 Rand Corporation study shows that “there is little cross-country evidence that population growth impedes or promotes economic growth”.
- The bill takes away limited government funds from treating many high priority medical and food needs and transfers them to fund objectively harmful and deadly devices. The latest studies in scientific journals and organizations show that the ordinary birth control pills and the IUD kill the embryonic human, who as such are human beings equally worthy of respect, making the bill unconstitutional.
- US National Defense has shown empirical evidence that contraceptives have deleterious social effects (abortion, premarital sex, female impoverishment, fatherless children, teenage pregnancies, and poverty). Harvard School of Public Health observes that ‘when people think they’re made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex’, in the phenomenon called “risk compensation”. There is evidence for increased risk of cancer (breast, cervical, liver) as well as significant increase of risk for heart attack and stroke for current users of oral contraceptives. The increased usage of contraceptives, which implies that some babies are unwanted, will eventually lead to more abortion; the correlation was shown in a scientific journal and acknowledged by pro-RH leaders.
- People’s freedom to access contraceptives is not restricted by any opposing law, being available in family planning NGOs, stores, etc. The Philippines is not a welfare state: taxpayer’s money should not be used for personal practices that are harmful and immoral; it can be used to inform people of the harm of BCPs.
- The penal provisions constitute a violation of free choice and conscience, and establish religious persecution.
The Big Questions:
- After reading this article are you in favor or against the RH bill?
- Will it benefit the Philippines and its people? How?
- Is it a “Moral Evil? Why?