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contraceptives and family planning.
RH is about health, rights and
sustainable human development.
Our population today is more than 90 million. It is projected to reach 94.3 million by this year. It is expected to balloon to 141 million in 2040 if will allow our PGR to remain high.
Right to reproductive health, including the right to plan one’s family, is a vital and indispensable right of all people, but principally of women
International Conference on Human Rights in the Proclamation of Teheran: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
The Philippines is a signatory to this convention.
Fundamental right to RH remains illusory
2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their families but lack information and access to do so. (FPS 2005 and 2006, UPPI 2008) Poorest Filipinas are still having an average of 6 children (almost 3x their desired number of children and equivalent to the Total Fertility Rate in 1973). (NDHS 2003, FPS 2006) 44% of the pregnancies of the poorest Filipinas are unwanted. (FPS 2006, “Population, Poverty,
Politics and the RH Bill”, Pernia, E.M., et. al)
Maternal deaths comprise 11% of all deaths in women aged 15-49. (FPS 2006)
Fundamental right to RH remains illusory
54% of married women do not want an additional child but 49% of them are not using any form of family planning method (2008 National Demographic and Health Survey). 22% of married Filipino women have an unmet need for family planning services (2008 NDHS), an increase by more than one-third since the 2003 NDHS. Only 67% of all births in the Philippines are planned. The rest are either mistimed or unwanted (NDHS 2008).
Women want fewer children than what they actually have. The total wanted fertility in the country of 2.4 children is 27% lower than the actual total fertility rate of 3.3 children (NDHS 2008).
Bill is rights-based
Anchored on the principle that everyone has the right to reproductive self-determination . Should a couple decide that they want to plan and space their children, the State must be able to provide them with relevant and timely information and services on all methods of family planning which are legal, medically safe and effective. State must be able to provide women with the services they need for safe motherhood.
Bill emphasizes freedom of informed choice
At the heart of the bill is freedom of informed choice. Neither the State nor the Church has the authority to tell the people or the faithful what family planning method to adopt. Provides an enabling environment that will protect and promote the right to make informed decisions when it comes to planning their families and safeguarding their right to reproductive health.
RH is certainly not merely about contraceptives and family planning. Family planning is only one element of reproductive health.
Family planning is only one element of RH. Reproductive health has 11 essential elements: Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding; Family planning information and services; Proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;
Adolescent and youth reproductive health; Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs); Elimination of violence against women;
Education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health; Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders; Male responsibility and participation in reproductive health; Prevention and treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction; and Reproductive health education for the youth.
Only 57% of Filipino women give birth with the assistance of a trained medical professional. (FPS 2006) Every city and municipality shall endeavor to employ an adequate number of midwives and other skilled attendants. Skilled attendance at birth will help prevent maternal and infant mortality.
Each province and city shall endeavor to ensure the establishment and operation of hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel that provide emergency obstetric care. The miracle of life should not mean death for 11 mothers daily. Importance of facilities that can provide life saving services to pregnant women cannot be overemphasized.
For every 500,000 population, there shall be at least one (1) hospital for comprehensive emergency obstetric care and four (4) hospitals for basic emergency obstetric care
All accredited health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods. For poor patients, such services shall be fully covered by PhilHealth Insurance and/or government financial assistance.
After the use of any PhilHealth benefit involving childbirth and all other pregnancy-related services, if the beneficiary wishes to space or prevent her next pregnancy, PhilHealth shall pay for the full cost of family planning for the next three (3) years. The benefit payments shall be channeled to appropriate local or national government health facilities.
RH products shall be considered essential medicines and supplies and shall form part of the National Drug Formulary. This will help the poorest of our women avoid unplanned pregnancies and maternal death. Both the WHO and UNFPA have declared that contraceptive use can prevent 1/3 of all maternal deaths. RP’s maternal mortality rate: 162 deaths out of every 100,000 live births. (FPS 2006) Filipino women have a 1 in 100 chance of dying from maternal causes in their lifetime. (FPS 2006) Modern contraceptives are included in the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines.
The DOH shall spearhead the efficient procurement, distribution to LGUs and usage-monitoring of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate LGU bodies to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program.
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RH education in an age-appropriate manner shall be taught by adequately trained teachers from Grade 5 up to 4th Year High School. Subjects include: Values formation; Knowledge and skills in self protection against discrimination, sexual violence and abuse, and teen pregnancy; Physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents; Children’s and women’s rights; Fertility awareness; STI, HIV and AIDS; Population and development; Responsible relationship; Family planning methods; Proscription and hazards of abortion; Gender and development; and Responsible parenthood.
Sexuality education = positive view of sexuality; information and skills about taking care of one’s sexual health; and sound decisions. Sexuality education makes adolescents more sexually responsible and adds a level of maturity to their attitudes towards sexual relations. Formal education on RH and sexuality is necessary because of the parental default at home where conversations on sex is traditionally taboo. The SWS survey released in October 2008 shows that 76% of Filipinos approve of the teaching of family planning to the youth.
It is pro-quality life. It will ensure that children will be blessings to their parents since their births are planned and wanted. It will empower couples with the information and opportunity to plan and space their children. This strengthens the family as a unit and optimizes care for fewer children who will have more opportunities to be educated, healthy and productive.
The capacity of people to make full use of their potentials is imperiled and impaired by a ballooning population and resultant poverty. The bill is not against the birth of children. It does not advocate that women and couples stop having children. What it only aims to do is to help women and couples achieve their fertility goals.
Section 3(e) of the bill provides: “The State shall promote, without bias, all modern natural and artificial methods of family planning that are medically safe, legal and effective.” Government’s bias is actually for NFP because POPCOM has been promoting purely NFP even though only 27% of all women using family planning employ both NFP and traditional methods COMBINED compared to the 73% who use modern contraceptive methods. (FPS 2006) The bill in fact democratizes family planning because it will make available to couples all possible family planning methods and not just NFP which is preferred by the Catholic Church.
The measure repeatedly underscores that abortion is illegal, criminal and punishable, and is not part of the menu of legally permissible and medically safe family planning methods.
Catholic countries like Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Paraguay and Ireland all prohibit abortion as a family planning method even as they vigorously promote contraceptive use.
Muslim and Buddhist countries like Indonesia and Laos have likewise liberalized the use of contraceptives but still continue to criminalize abortion. Contraceptive use and abortion have an inverse correlation: regular and correct use of contraceptives reduces abortion rates since unplanned and unwanted pregnancies are avoided.
Pills and IUDs are BFAD-approved, medically safe and legal. Primary mechanism is to suppress ovulation. If no egg is released, how can there be an abortion? They also prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. If fertilization is avoided, how can there be a fetus to abort? IUDs do not cause abortions because they stop fertilization. UNDP, UNFPA and WHO Expert Opinion on the Mechanisms of Modern Contraceptives: contraceptives “cannot be labeled as abortifacients”.
The WHO emphasizes that 15% of all pregnant women experience potentially fatal complications. Preventing pregnancy in high risk women through contraception significantly reduces maternal death. Medical risks connected with contraceptives are infinitely lower than the risks of an actual pregnancy and everyday activities. Risk of dying within a year of riding a car is 1 in 5,900. Risk of dying within a year of using pills is 1 in 200,000. Risk of dying from a vasectomy is 1 in 1 million. Risk of dying from using an IUD is 1 in 10 million. Risk of dying from condom use is absolutely zero. But the worldwide risk of dying from a pregnancy is 1 in 10,000. In the Philippines, the lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes is an alarming 1 in 100.
Age-appropriate RH education promotes correct sexual values.
Benefits of sexuality education: (1) understanding of proper sexual values; (2) initiation to sexual relations is delayed; (3) abstinence before marriage is encouraged; (4) multiple sex partners is avoided; and (5) spread of sexually transmitted diseases is prevented.
The bill does not prohibit pregnancy. Couples will not stop wanting children simply because contraceptives are available. Contraceptives are used to prevent unplanned pregnancies but not to stop pregnancies altogether. Human beings have the primal desire to reproduce and propagate their genes. This bill cannot undo millions of years of evolution. The bill’s authors recognize the importance of ensuring that children are born healthy and wanted.
Bill recognizes the verifiable link between a huge population and poverty. Unbridled population growth stunts socio-economic development and aggravates poverty.
UN Human Development Reports show that countries with higher population growth invariably score lower in human development.
Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world and ranked 105th out 179 countries in the UNDP’s latest Human Development Report. Asian Development Bank: a large population is one of the major causes of poverty in RP.
Large family size is a significant
factor in keeping families poor across generations. (Phil. Institute for Development Studies) UN: “family planning and reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty”.
UNICEF: “family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.” (UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report 1992)
A so-called “demographic winter” is a scare tactic which fails to comprehend the dynamics of population momentum. UP Economics professors have declared in a paper entitled “Population and Poverty: The Real Score” that a so-called demographic winter will not happen in the country for “at least another 100 years”. National Statistics Coordination Board, replacement fertility of 2.1 children will be achieved only by 2040 but effects of “population momentum” or the continuous increase in population will go on for another 60 years by which time the population of the country would have reached 240 million.
Bill is being faulted for being violative of the Section 12, Article II of the Constitution which reads: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”
Bill does not violate or intrude on the “sanctity of family life”. On the contrary, it discharges the obligation of the State to protect and strengthen the family. The family is more than a natural unit. It is a social institution whose well-being is impressed with public interest and concern. It is not immune from legislation. It has to be amenable to the State’s exercise of police power for its protection and development.
Civil Code of the Philippines; Family Code of the Philippines; the Child and Youth Welfare Code; and the Special Protection of Filipino Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
Bill does not supplant the primary right of parents in the “… development of moral character” of the youth even as it proposes the teaching RH and sexuality education.
This gives support, as required by the Constitution, to parents, particularly to the majority who have defaulted in imparting RH sexuality education to their children because discussing sex at home is taboo. The young get their information on sexuality from polluted and inaccurate sources. Thus, there is critical need for formal reproductive health and sexuality education in schools.
Use of legal and medically-safe contraceptives, which are not abortifacients, does not violate the constitutional provision on the State’s obligation “to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”
The purpose of this provision is to preempt the Congress and the Supreme Court from legalizing abortion. This bill definitely does not legalize abortion. The proceedings of the Constitutional Commission show that there was no intention to ban contraceptives which are not abortifacient.
71% of Filipinos are in favor of the RH bill; 76% of Filipinos agree that there should be a law requiring government to teach family planning to the youth; and 68% believe that there should be a law requiring government to distribute legal contraceptives like condoms, pills and IUDs
PULSE ASIA: 93% of Filipinos consider it important to have the ability to plan their families; 82% of Filipinos believe government should teach couples about all methods of family planning; Another 82% of Filipinos say that it is the government’s duty to provide the people with knowledge, services, and materials on all methods of family planning; and A considerable majority of Filipinos (63%) want the RH bill to be passed into law with only 8% expressing opposition to the measure.
68% of Catholics believe that government should distribute free contraceptives to those who want them (SWS). 76% of Catholics agree that there should be a law requiring government to teach family planning to the youth (SWS). 71% of Catholics favor the passage of the RH bill versus only 68% of nonCatholics who endorse the bill (SWS). Religion ranks 9th out of 10 reasons why women do not use contraception (FPS 2006).
We have to enact HB 96 because it promotes and protects:
The right to health; The right to informed choice; The right to reproductive selfdetermination; and 4. The right to sustainable human development.
1. 2. 3.
They almost always decide to have smaller families. Their children will invariably be healthier, better-educated and have at least a fighting chance at living full and dignified lives. Without this ability to plan their families, most women will often find it more difficult to finish their education, find remunerative work or have a say in their own future.
The RH bill is genuinely pro-women, pro-poor and prolife. It is essential to the promotion of women’s overall health. If RH is neglected, primary aspects of women’s general welfare and wellbeing will be irrevocably compromised.
Educated and well-off women
have always exercised the right to family planning. Poor Filipinas should not be deprived of the same right enjoyed by their more prosperous sisters.
But there are 4,000 reasons to support the bill - the
4,000 Filipino mothers who die every year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
There are additional 8,000 reasons to fight for
reproductive rights – the 8,000 babies who annually do not survive their first month of life.
And another 2.6 million reasons to stand up for the
bill – the 2.6 million poor Filipinas who want to plan their families but are unable to do so because they lack information on and access to family planning services.
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