Frequently Asked Questions about the RH Bill

2011-05-24
This FAQ is based on accurately cited scientific data in Facts vs. Myths, a comprehensive information document on reproductive health published by the Mulat Pinoy population awareness initiative, supported by the Probe Media Foundation, Inc. and the Philippine Center for Population and Development. http://www.mulatpinoy.ph/ http://www.probefound.com/ http://www.pcpd.ph/

RH Bill FAQ: On Faith
Q: Is the RH Bill rejected by all major Philippine religious groups? A: No. In April 2011, the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood (IPPRP) released a statement supporting the value of responsible parenthood and how the RH Bill espouses it. The signatories included the following religious institutions:
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) United Church of Christ of the Philippines Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) United Methodist Church (UMC) Philippines for Jesus Movement (PJM) Iglesia Filipino Independiente (IFI) Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (Inc (CAMACOP) Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Salvation Army Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH) Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP)

Islam has similarly expressed support for the RH Bill. Only the CBCP and the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Philippines continue to oppose it. They do, however, recognize and respect the opinions of other churches.

RH Bill FAQ: Faith and Governance
Q: Is the Philippines the only Catholic country that is pushing for reproductive health legislation? A: No. Ireland, a progressive, developed and predominantly Catholic Country, has a Constitution similar to the Philippines, acknowledging the right to life of the unborn with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother. The Irish government already has a fully implemented family planning policy that funds and delivers all modern contraceptive methods including IUDs, pills, injectables, and implants. Other Catholic countries like Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Paraguay all prohibit abortion as a family planning method even as they vigorously promote contraceptive use. They have lowered their fertility rates to sustainable levels, enabling families to plan their desired sizes. The Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country that has not adopted a family planning policy.

RH Bill FAQ: Faith and Governance
Q: Have other countries benefited from a comprehensive family planning and reproductive health program? A: Yes. An excellent example is Chile. It is a model of how a predominantly Catholic country can pioneer a family planning program with the support of the Catholic Church, academe, and international community. Educational institutions in Chile provided the initial knowledge base for guiding family planning policy. The Chilean medical, scientific, and political community also advocated reducing the size of families and the judicious use of family planning. The Catholic Church hierarchy then promoted these policies because they felt it would reduce the alarmingly high rates of induced abortions that were prevalent in Chile at the time. Today, Chile has a sustainable fertility rate, one of the largest GDP-per capita and Human Development Indices, and is an OECD country that has risen out of a military dictatorship and feudal system.

RH Bill FAQ: Population Momentum
Q: Can the RH Bill cause an immediate demographic winter, crippling Philippine growth? A: No. Even if we have lower population growth and fertility rates right now, the country would still grow to reach 160 million in 2060, overtaxing our available resources, due to population momentum. Even if the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) continues to decline by 0.2 children every five years, the replacement fertility of 2.1 children per woman would be reached only by 2040. The effects of population momentum would still persist for another 60 years after that before population ceases to grow, by which time the total population would be 240 million. Even a negative TFR would take decades to slow down population growth. Thailand’s population, for example, continues to growdue to population momentum even though its TFR is now below replacement fertility. A high-quality family planning program (access to education and provision of multiple family planning methods) can reduce lower TFR to safe levels better than economic development or poverty reduction alone.

The Philippines’ Average Growth Rate

RH Bill FAQ: Population and Poverty
Q: Is there a connection between population size and poverty? A: Yes. There is a proven, strong link across poverty, rapid population growth, and large, unplanned family sizes. It is internationally recognized that rapid population growth (of 2% or more annually) is more likely to impede than promote economic development. According to the UN State of the World Population Report, “family planning and reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty,” and “countries that invest in reproductive health and family planning and in women’s development register slower population growth and faster economic growth.” The Asian Development Bank cites a large population as one of the major causes of poverty in the Philippines: “Population growth in and of itself is not a problem if resources are available to cope with the additional people requiring public services, employment, housing, and so on. But in a country where the budget is already stretched and where poverty is high to begin with, population growth becomes a major issue.”

RH Bill FAQ: Population and Poverty
Q: Have local studies been made about population and poverty? A: Yes. One particularly critical analysis was conducted by the University of the Philippines, with clear, data-supported results. In a 2008 study, the UP School of Economics affirmed that rapid population growth and high fertility rates, especially among the poor, exacerbate poverty and make it harder for the government to address it: “At the micro level, family size is closely associated with poverty incidence, as consistently borne out by household survey data over time. In short, poor families are heavily burdened when they end up with more children than they themselves desire.” The country’s foremost economics institution also stated: “The experience from across Asia indicates that a population policy cum government-funded family planning program has been a critical complement to sound economic policy and poverty reduction.” In addition, “ensuring access to the full range of modern (‘artificial’) FP methods cum appropriate information raises the success rate of achieving the desired family size. Limiting FP options to ‘natural family planning (NFP) methods only’ fails to address the private and social costs of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies.”

Link between family size and poverty

RH Bill FAQ: Contraceptives, Sex Ed and STDs
Q: Will sex education and contraceptive use increase the spread of STDs? A: No. Sex education in the RH Bill is about warning everyone about the risks and dangers involved with reproductive health. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, only 12% of women and 18% of men aged 15-24 knew about how to avoid and control HIV. Proper sex education encourages the youth to seek correct guidance rather than rely on media or word of mouth. Condoms have also been proven to be effective as both artificial contraceptives, and preventing the transmission of AIDS/HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases if used properly. Scientific studies, such as those conducted by USAID in Africa, provide evidence that latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can greatly reduce the possibility of HIV infection, and can also prevent the spread of gonorrhea and chlamydia infections in both women and men.

RH Bill FAQ: Sex Ed and Promiscuity
Q: Will sex education promote promiscuity? A: No. Condoms have been proven effective artificial contraceptives, and are virtually 100% effective in preventing the transmission of AIDS/HIV and other sexuallytransmitted diseases as shown by research conducted in Europe. Scientific studies of sexually active discordant couples, where one partner is infected with HIV and the other partner is not, have demonstrated that the correct and consistent use of latex condoms reduces the likelihood of HIV infection by 80 to 90%. According to WHO: Over 1,000 reports on sex education programs worldwide show that sex education courses did not lead to earlier sexual intercourse. In some cases they delayed it. According to the United Nations: In 22 studies, sexual health education delayed the onset of sexual activity, reduced the number of sexual partners, or reduced unplanned pregnancy and STD rates. In 27 studies: sexual health education neither increased nor decreased sexual activity and attendant rates of pregnancy and STDs. Only 3 studies found increases in sexual behavior associated with sexual health education.

RH Bill FAQ: Abortions
Q: Will the use of contraceptives lower abortion rates? A: Yes. Contraceptives avert over 112 million abortions a year and will reduce abortions by 80% of the over 500,000 abortions/year under a modern family planning policy.

RH Bill FAQ: Natural Family Planning
Q: Natural family planning is free and effective. Why shouldn’t we use that instead? A: NFP is not effective. NFP has never played a role in fertility decline in any country.
– – – According to the Guttmacher Institute, NFP has a 25.3% failure rate and results in 35% of abortions. Non-users and NFP users account for 9 of 10 unintended pregnancies. NFP programs are only used by 0.5% of married women in the Philippines, despite Catholic Church programs, and costs just as much money for training, replication, and follow up. In the marginalized community of Payatas, a Catholic Church program resulted in only 27 successful users (out of 390 documented women), after 4 years of effort.

NFP contradicts and nullifies the central principle of the Catholic Church position on contraceptives.
– Prof. Luc Bovens, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, says that about 2 to 3 embryos die for every pregnancy that occurs using the rhythm method. The rhythm method may well be responsible for massive embryonic death. Biology professor S. F. Gilbert, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, affirms that NFP also results in heavy embryo losses: 20% of eggs come in contact with sperm. Of this 20%, 16.8 % have successful fertilization and 13.8% have successful implantation. Only 6.2% of the fetuses come to term.

RH Bill FAQ: Sustainability
Q: Can the Philippines support its rapidly increasing population? A: No. The Philippines is already living beyond its means and cannot sustainably develop its resources to manage rapid population growth. The growing population, combined with inconsistent governance, has increased the Philippines’ resource demand from less than its own biocapacity in 1961 to more than double its domestically available biocapacity in 2002. Investing in family planning services will save several billion pesos, which can be used for critical social services. – The latest US and Philippine research show that governments annually spend a minimum of Php 5.5 billion in healthcare costs to address unintended pregnancies and their complications. – By contrast, only Php 2.0-3.5 billion annually is needed to fund a comprehensive range of voluntary family planning services for the entire country, which also results in a more sustainable population to provide for.

Supporting the Philippine Population