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The RH bill is pro-development

By: David L. Balangue - @inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 09:28 PM September 14, 2012

A number of arguments for and against the Reproductive Health bill have been posited
and the debates have been mostly emotional, with the Senate seemingly succeeding in
derailing the passage of the measure. The Catholic Church has taken the lead in
opposing the passage of the bill into law, claiming that certain provisions are against
Church teachings. The Church has even broadly defined abortion to include the use of
condoms and other common contraceptives. It has mislabeled the RH bill as promoting
abortion notwithstanding specific provisions to the contrary.

Those opposed to the RH bill argue that we do not need measures to curtail population
growth because we are not really overpopulated. In fact, a number of global economists
look favorably at the Philippines because of its young and growing population. They
claim that the demand for goods that these young Filipinos need will spur the growth of
the Philippine economy. The opponents also mention the situation in Japan and other
developed western nations that have had low population growth for decades now and
thus face a graying population which the working class may eventually have difficulty
supporting. But isnt this akin to our current situation, where the productive working
class is unable to support the unproductive sectors of our population?

Depending on ones values, many cynically prefer the status quo but without admitting
that their position is founded on their own vested and selfish interests. From a selfish
affluent Filipino familys standpoint, why curtail population growth when this provides
an adequate supply of cheap and qualified maids, drivers and other members of the
labor force? And since the poor are unable to afford sending their children to good but
expensive schools, the children of the affluent families gain a real and distinct
advantage in receiving much better education, which gives them better and improved
chances of landing good-paying jobs.


Since population growth is highest among the poor, this vicious chain of the rich getting
richer and the poor getting poorer will be perpetuated. Access to contraceptives is
denied only the very poor and uneducated in the country; it has never been a problem
for the rich and a large part of the middle class. Thus, making contraceptives more
accessible will not redound much to the benefit of these groups in our society. The RH
bill, providing for better and easier access to contraceptives and pushing for responsible
parenthood, is pro-poor and pro-development and will at least afford the poor the
opportunity to better manage the size of their families. Access to a better life is a
paramount right of every individual, and it is the governments duty to make this

People can be an asset or a liability. If they are educated, skilled and possess the right
attitude and values, they are an asset. The challenge now is: How do we increase the
number of Filipinos who can be assets to the country? How do we create the
environment and circumstances that will enable us to achieve this? In relation to the RH
bill, will its passage into law and the enforcement of its provisions contribute to or
hamper the achievement of this environment? The answer is obvious.

The ideal situation is, of course, one where there are both good quantity and good
quality of Filipinos. However, blocking the RH bills passage and keeping the status
quo will not make this possible. The governments current resources are not enough to
take care of the poor and give them opportunities to pull themselves out of the quagmire
of continuing poverty.
Lets look at our neighbors. Thailand, which had a population of 54.6 million compared
to our 60.7 million in 1990, now has only 65.5 million compared to our 92.3 million.
Thailands population grew by 20 percent, and ours by a whopping 52 percent! Its per
capita GDP is $9,400, which is more than double our $4,100. There are, of course, other
factors involved, but to a great extent, Thailands growth and development are
attributable to the lower growth in its population. The empirical evidence on the high
population growth of developing economies hampering their economic growth and
development is so undisputable that the opponents of the RH bill resort to emotion and
religion, and, to some extent, disinformation, to defend their position.

Undeniably, the chances of improvement in the quality of life of the greater mass of
Filipinos will be better if the RH bill is passed. It is high time we set aside our personal
beliefs as to Gods mandate for us to go forth and multiply, looked squarely into the
face of reality, and stopped being hypocritical. Surely, the majority of the millions who
hear Catholic Masses every Sunday use contraceptives one way or another, particularly
those with less than four children. If this were not so, then the average size of the
Filipino family would have remained the samearound nine children, as was the case
in the families of both my parents during their time.

For the Catholic Church to hear the wish and sentiment of its flock, perhaps for the
coming two Sundays, those who support the RH bill should hear Mass on Saturday
instead. With the resulting empty Sundays, perhaps the Church will wake up to reality
and listen to its people, and cease opposing the passage of the RH bill into law.

Pro-RH side presents final arguments before SC

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2013 04:58 PM | Updated as of Aug 28 2013 12:58 AM

MANILA - Government and the main authors of Republic Act (RA) No. 10354, also
known as the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, presented their final arguments in
defense of the law before the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday during the continuation
of oral arguments on 14 petitions assailing the constitutionality of the law.

Senior State Solicitor Florin Hilbay told the high court that the RH Law is "carefully
balanced," and it is wrong for petitioners to insist that it should only be viewed from
the perspective of religion.

Hilbay questioned the position of petitioner Couples for Christ Foundation, which said
the law violates freedom of religion "as it confers upon the wife sole authority to
decide on matters relating to her reproductive health in disregard of their Catholic
faith which gives the husband authority to decide in cases of marital deadlock."

Hilbay said this claim cannot stand since the law actually recognizes the rights to
liberty and privacy of either the husband or the wife to undergo an RH and
contraceptive procedure.

Hilbay said that the law is gender-neutral and is not discriminatory to either of the

"What petitioner Couples for Christ Foundation wants is for men not only to have the
right to undergo RH procedures such as vasectomy even without the knowledge of
their wives but also the right to override the decision of their wives to have ligation.'
"This is not only unfair; it is also unconstitutional," he said.

Provisions in the law that apply to health care providers such as information
dissemination and referrals, despite one's objection on the basis of religious beliefs,
cannot be considered unconstitutional, Hilbay further said, since these are professional
duties that the health care providers are compelled to perform.

"A person who visits a hospital is looking for a person of science, not a theologian.
She, therefore, expects expert medical advice, not religious instruction or a political

"At the same time, a health care provider working at a hospital or a clinic presents
herself to patients not as a religious healer, but as a skilled technician trained in the
various disciplines of medicine," Hilbay said.


Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro raised ethical and moral issues such as
an example of a doctor who, based on his own judgment, believes that a particular
reproductive health medication is "unsafe or harmful" to a woman.

She asked Hilbay if the doctor should still be compelled to make referrals with a
colleague on the matter.

"If a doctor sincerely believes that what was provided by the government is not safe,
is it ethical for that doctor to refer that someone to another doctor to prescribe that
prescription to that woman? If he believes it is scientifically wrong or unsafe? Is that
not unethical? Is that the right thing for him to do?" De Castro asked.
To which Hilbay said it may "not necessarily be right" but the doctor "has the duty to


Several petitioners have questioned the provision of the law on Age and
Development-Appropriate RH Education. In response to this, Hilbay said that the
curriculum has yet to be formulated by the Department of Education and, thus, may
not be challenged at this point.

"Because the law has not yet been implemented, the curriculum which may be the
basis for a constitutional challenge has not yet been crafted.

"This honorable Court has no jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality of a

provision of the law that exists only at the level of policy and whose actual content
has not yet been written," Hilbay said.

He stressed that the state has the responsibility and duty to ensure that it builds "a
nation of citizens who are simultaneously civic-minded, morally responsible, and
properly informed."

I am pro-life, and I support the RH Bill

By Featured Blogger Noemi Lardizabal-Dado Updated Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 12:00am

I avoid writing about my stand on reproductive health issues here in UNBLOGGED because I have other blogs
that deal with these. The thing is people attending last Friday's Church-sponsored anti-RH Bill rally
actually believed that abortion is part of the bill. I can accept people who are against the RH Bill because of
their religious views. What I find unacceptable is spreading misinformation about it.

I wonder why the label pro-life is assumed by those against the RH Bill. Am I anti-life if I support the RH
Bill? Am I immoral? Why do bishops call the RH Bill demonic? Cant God be the judge of that?If they claim
they are pro-life, why do they wish ill of RH backers? Why do they play audio messages, one of which
features a lola character wishing for lightning to strike lawmakers backing the bill?

How can these holier-than-thou know each RH advocate? Do they know ...?

I am pro-life. I am for the RH Bill.I am pro-life because I believe that all births should be planned and wanted
by their parents. I am pro-life because I am against abortion except for special cases, such as mothers dying
from pregnancy complications. I am pro-life because I believe women do not have to die during childbirth.

On the Day of the Unborn, we celebrated the 25th birthday of Lauren, my eldest daughter. She might not like
to hear this but she was conceived after determining my fertile days out of the Billings Ovulation Method. I
have never used chemical and hormonal ways to achieve or avoid pregnancy only because I knew all
about natural family planning methods. In the Billings method, not all women are open to the idea of touching
the discharge from their vulva. Perhaps it is the upbringing that you are not supposed to touch your vagina
except during washing. Oh yes, one of the nuns told us that. This is the same religion that promotes the
Billings method.

I am blessed to be married to the love of my life for the past 25 years, my boyfriend for seven years. He is my
one and only lover and to see our children are truly miracles of God and a union of our love. What more can I
ask from God? A baby is a gift of life. Tears of joy always overcome me in every birth of my children. They
are truly Gods greatest gifts ever given to me. I wish every mother receives this gift of life.

It is this wish that prompted me to support the RH Bill in 2008. It is also the year I stopped going to the
Catholic Church in the Philippines, but that is another story. Even though I left the Catholic Church, it does not
mean I stopped loving and believing God. It is my love of God that moves me to help women who die daily
from childbirth and who are ignorant of reproductive health issues.It saddens me that the bishops wrongly
claim that the RH Bill is something that promotes abortion and adolescent promiscuity. I feel these bishops
have been intellectually dishonest and ignored the good faith of RH advocates. They have failed to proclaim
the life-saving and values-formation character of this public health measure, which many desire to be passed
into law.Misconceptions about the RH Bill have been clarified many times and Ive already shared 10 facts
about reproductive health in the Philippines. However, let me show some facts to disprove the belief of the
Catholic Church that birth control pills are abortifacients and that the RH Bill is all about abortion.

1. Abortion is illegal, criminal and punishable by law. There is absolutely no provision in the RH Bill about the
legalization of abortion.

2. Abortifacient is defined in the website as a drug and/or device that kills a newly
formed human being, whether by directly killing the baby or by preventing implantation.

3. Life begins with conception. Fertilization only needs a sperm and an egg to complete. Conception requires a
woman who will conceive. Conception comes from the root word conceive, which in turn comes from the
Latin word concipere to take in and hold; become pregnant. The bottom line: a fertilized egg needs to
successfully implant in a woman before conception meaning pregnancy begins.

4. All contraceptive pills and intrauterine conceptive devices (IUDs) are not abortifacients and will not induce
abortions. These are meant to suppress ovulation, which stops fertilization and the formation of a fetus. You
can download this fact sheet on contraception and abortion. Modern contraceptives are in the World Health
Organization's (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines.

5. Modern contraceptives like the IUDs, pills and injectibles are available even in countries where abortion is
strictly prohibited. The best example is Ireland where, like the Philippines, Catholics make up 86.8 percent of
the population, and where a similar constitutional provision protecting the "unborn" exists.

Reproductive health is about using contraceptives so you can have babies only when you want to, and so you
can achieve a family size you can comfortably support. It is about producing children with love and producing
them responsibly so your limited resources can provide them a good life, not one where they sleep in sidewalks
or eat rice flavored with patis day in and day out. It is about helping women avoid the health complications
caused by closely spaced births or unplanned late pregnancies. Caring about all these things is being concerned
with life. That's what being pro-life is about

Culture Wars: After a Decade of Debate, the Philippines Passes Reproductive Health Bill
Filipino legislators on Monday approved a law that will allow the government to provide
basic funding for sex education and contraceptives.

By Emily RauhalaDec. 17, 2012

Change, at last. After a deeply divisive, decadelong battle, the Philippines legislature on Monday approved a
landmark piece of legislation that will allow the government to provide basic funding for sex education and
contraceptives. The Reproductive Health Bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Benigno
Aquino III on Wednesday, was introduced more than 10 years ago, but languished in the legislature because of
strong opposition from the Catholic Church and its allies in government.

Only five years ago, many thought the bill would never pass, that the country was too divided, that the church
was too strong. But supporters fought on and found an ally in President Aquino, who took office in 2010. The
Reproductive Health Bill will have profound implications for improving the health and lives of women
throughout the country, wrote Human Rights Watchs Carlos Conde in a statement. The Aquino
administration should be credited for having the political will to muster support for the bill in Congress despite
the threat of a political backlash.

The Philippines, a majority Catholic nation of 96 million, has long been an outlier in terms of reproductive
rights. Over the past 20 years, while most of Asia and indeed, much of the world embraced voluntary
family planning, the country cracked down on contraception. Though poll data suggest the majority of
Filipinos believe in birth control, the countrys Catholic Church contends that the use of modern methods of
contraception, such as condoms and birth-control pills, is an affront to Gods will and a threat to public health.
Likening condoms to abortion, they have vigorously opposed any attempt to broaden reproductive rights. In a
2008 interview, Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, a vocal anticontraception campaigner, told me that women ought
to avoid sexual intercourse on all but their least fertile days. Family-planning advocates, he said, were merely
propagandists of a culture of death.

Over the years, that message moved from the pulpit to the political sphere, spawning some of the worlds most
restrictive laws on birth control and abortion. In year 2000, for instance, a mayoral edict saw birth control
effectively banned from Manilas public clinics, making condoms the purview of the citys moneyed classes.
The ban coincided with a Bush-era move to cut funding to overseas organizations focused on family planning,
drastically cutting the availability of affordable contraceptives. In Manila, those who could afford it bought
birth control at private clinics; many poor women went without. It is not uncommon to meet women in Manila
who say they hoped to have two children, but because of a lack of affordable family planning, now have 6, or
8, or 10. A 25-year-old woman named Sheryl told me in 2008 that she wanted two kids, but had five. Three
survived infancy in Manilas slums.

Indeed, the Philippines is a case study in how restricting reproductive rights hurts public health. The countrys
decades-long contraception crackdown has stigmatized safer sex practices, heightening the risk of sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV, and leading to millions of unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancies.
Decades worth of research shows that nutrition, health and educational opportunities drop when a family
outgrows its means. Yet the U.N. Population Fund estimates that half of the 3.4 million pregnancies in the
country each year are unintended. A third of these pregnancies are aborted, often in unsafe conditions. (The
Philippines has a blanket ban on abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, or to save a womans life. The
criminalization of abortion often forces women to turn to back-alley abortionists.) A 2010 report by the Center
for Reproductive Rights, based in New York City, estimated that in 2008 alone, 90,000 Filipino women sought
medical treatment for complications from abortion and about a thousand died.

The Reproductive Health Bill is no panacea. It does not address the countrys abortion laws. Also, the bill
alone is not enough to guarantee reproductive justice. Attitudes must change too. As long as there is stigma
surrounding the use of contraception, people are at risk. The bills detractors, including the architect of the
Manila contraceptives ban, former mayor Lito Atienza, have vowed to fight the legislation and may petition
the Supreme Court to declare the bill unconstitutional. Others believe the country is ready for change. The
Catholic Church has steadfastly opposed the RH bill for 13 years, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago told
the Associated Press. But I humbly submit that there is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has
come. No less than the lives of Filipinos are at stake.

Ten Good Reasons to Pass the RH Bill Now

Posted on 05 February 2011 by Alfredo R. Melgar.

Just a few years ago, say RH in ordinary talks and youll get blank looks. Now, most Filipinos know that RH
is reproductive health. It has entered presidential debates, topped the news, been surveyed to death. Moreover,
majority have plainly said their piece: We support RH. Why? Loads of reasonsfrom the practical We
need help to the proud Its my choice! But 10 good ones should be enough to convince rational people and
thoughtful policy-makers. So here are our top picks.

1 RH will: Protect the health & lives of mothers

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that complications arise in 15% of pregnancies, bad enough
to hospitalize or kill women. From the 2 million plus live births alone, some 300,000 maternal complications
occur yearly. This is 7 times the DOHs annual count for TB, 19 times for heart diseases and 20 times for
malaria in women. As a result, more than 11 women die needlessly each day.

Enough skilled birth attendants and prompt referral to hospitals with emergency obstetric care are proven
curative solutions to maternal complications. For women who wish to stop childbearing, family planning (FP)
is the best preventive measure. All these are part of RH.

2 Save babies

Proper birth spacing reduces infant deaths. The WHO says at least 2 years should pass between a birth and the
next pregnancy. In our country, the infant mortality rate of those with less than 2 years birth interval is twice
those with 3. The more effective and user-friendly the FP method, the greater the chances of the next child to

3 Respond to the majority who want smaller families

Times have changed and people want smaller families. When surveyed about their ideal number of children,
women in their 40s want slightly more than 3, while those in their teens and early 20s want just slightly more
than 2.

Moreover, couples end up with families larger than what they planned. On average, Filipino women want close
to 2 children but end up with 3. This gap is unequal, but shows up in all social classes and regions. RH
education and services will help couples fulfill their hopes for their families.

4 Promote equity for poor families

RH indicators show severe inequities between the rich and poor. For example, 94% of women in the richest
quintile have a skilled attendant at birth, while only 26% of the poorest can do so. The richest have 3 times
higher tubal ligation rates. This partly explains why the wealthy hardly exceed their planned number of
children, while the poorest get an extra 2. Infant deaths among the poorest are almost 3 times that of the
richest, which in a way explains why the poor plan for more children. An RH law will help in attaining equity
in health through stronger public health services.

5 Prevent induced abortions

Unintended pregnancies precede almost all induced abortions. Of all unintended pregnancies, 68% occur in
women without any FP method, and 24% happen to those using traditional FP like withdrawal or calendar-

If all those who want to space or stop childbearing would use modern FP, abortions would fall by some
500,000. In our country where abortion is strictly criminalized, and where 90,000 women are
hospitalized yearly for complications, it would be reckless and heartless not to ensure prevention through FP.

6 Support and deploy more public midwives, nurses and doctors

RH health services are needed wherever people are establishing their families. For example, a report by the
MDG Task Force points out the need for 1 fulltime midwife to attend to every 100 to 200 annual live births.
Other health staff are needed for the millions who need prenatal and postpartum care, infant care and family
planning. Investing in these core public health staff will serve the basic needs of many communities.

7 Guarantee funding for & equal access to health facilities

RH will need and therefore support many levels of health facilities. These range from health stations that can
do basic prenatal, infant and FP care; health centers for safe birthing, more difficult FP services like IUD
insertions, and management of sexually transmitted infections; and hospitals for emergency obstetric and
newborn care and surgical contraception. Strong RH facilities can be the backbone of a strong and fairly
distributed public health facility system.

8 Give accurate & positive sexuality education to young people

Currently, most young people enter relationships and even married life without the benefit of systematic inputs
by any of our social institutions. We insist on young voters education for events that occur once every few
years, but do nothing guiding the young in new relationships they face daily. The RH bill mandates the
education and health departments to fill this serious gap.
9 Reduce cancer deaths

Delaying sex, avoiding multiple partners or using condoms prevent HPV infections that cause cervical cancers.
Self breast exams and Pap smears can detect early signs of cancers which can be cured if treated early. All
these are part of RH education and care. Contraceptives do not heighten cancer risks; combined pills
actually reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

10 Save money that can be used for even more social spending

Ensuring modern FP for all who need it would increase spending from P1.9 B to P4.0 B, but the medical costs
for unintended pregnancies would fall from P3.5 B to P0.6 B, resulting in a net savings of P0.8 B. There is
evidence that families with fewer children do spend more for health and education

Duterte vows full implementation of RH law

Published July 25, 2016 6:17pm


President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed the full implementation of the

Reproductive Health law, a legislation passed by Congress four years ago under the
administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

Speaking before the joint session of Congress for his first State of the Nation Address
(SONA), Duterte said it is high time for the government to give priority to promoting
responsible parenthood and reproductive health as it is vital in his administrations
quest to reduce poverty and promote economic growth.

The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law

must be put into full force and effect, Duterte said during his SONA delivered at the
Batasan Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
Signed into law by Aquino in December 2012, the Republic Act 10354 or the
Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act faced many hurdles in its
implementation especially after the Supreme Court struck down some of its provisions
as well as a budget cut by Congress for its implementation for 2016 by nearly P1

Duterte said the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law is necessary so
that couples especially the poor will have freedom of informed choice on the number
and spacing of children.

Duterte said that with the right number and spacing of their children, parents can
adequately care and provide for [them], eventually making them more productive
members of the labor force.

The passage of the RH bill by the 16th Congress went through numerous committee
hearings, heated debates between legislators, protest actions in the streets and heated
word war between the pro and anti RH advocates.

Some provisions 'unconstitutional'

But after more than a decade of the battle for its passage in Congress, the RH laws
implementation also experienced a setback after oppositors of the RH law, mostly
religious groups and pro-life advocates, questioned its constitutionality before the
Supreme Court (SC).
Voting 10-5, the SC issued on Mar. 19, 2013 a 120-day status quo ante (SQA)
order against the law's implementation.

The high court extended indefinitely the SQA in July 2013, with a vote of 8-7.

A year later, the RH law was finally given a go by the High Tribunal but many of its
provisions, including the implementing rules, were declared unconstitutional.

The SC, while preserving the core of the law, which requires the state to deliver the
full range of family planning services to the public, limited the scope of its coverage.

It struck down a provision in Section 7, which states the power of the government to
oblige private hospitals and those owned by religious groups to refer patients to other
facilities that offer reproductive health services.

Also declared unconstitutional was the provision in the same section that allows
minors to avail of family planning services without parental consent if they have
already given birth or suffered a miscarriage.

The SC, however, upheld the essence of the law embodied in Section 7, which
requires the state to provide family planning services, including artificial

TRO, budget cut

The legal battle for RH Laws implementation continues, as the SC in June 2014
issues a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Department of Health from
distributing and selling contraceptive implants which can prevent pregnancies up to
three years.
The TRO has yet to be lifted by the SC up to date.

The TRO prompted the Congress to cut the DOHs budget for the RH laws
implementation in 2016 by nearly P1 billion.

Strengthening the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive

Health Law is included in Duterte administrations 10-point agenda revealed by the
presidents economic team recently. ALG, GMA News

YES To The RH BILL For The Sake Of The Philippines!

An estimated 222 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are
not using any method of contraception.

Some family planning methods help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted

Family planning reduces the need for unsafe abortion.

Family planning reinforces peoples rights to determine the number and spacing of their children.

Family planning allows people to attain their desired number of children and determine the spacing of
pregnancies. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility (this fact
sheet focuses on contraception).

Benefits of family planning

Promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and
couples is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and
development of communities.
Preventing pregnancy-related health risks in women

A womans ability to choose if and when to become pregnant has a direct impact on her health and well-
being. Family planning allows spacing of pregnancies and can delay pregnancies in young women at
increased risk of health problems and death from early childbearing, and can prevent pregnancies among
older women who also face increased risks. Family planning enables women who wish to limit the size of
their families to do so. Evidence suggests that women who have more than four children are at increased
risk of maternal mortality.

By reducing rates of unintended pregnancies, family planning also reduces the need for unsafe abortion.

Reducing infant mortality

Family planning can prevent closely spaced and ill-timed pregnancies and births, which contribute to
some of the worlds highest infant mortality rates. Infants of mothers who die as a result of giving birth
also have a greater risk of death and poor health.

Helping to prevent HIV/AIDS

Family planning reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV, resulting in
fewer infected babies and orphans. In addition, male and female condoms provide dual protection against
unintended pregnancies and against STIs including HIV.

Empowering people and enhancing education

Family planning enables people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.
Family planning represents an opportunity for women for enhanced education and participation in public
life, including paid employment in non-family organizations. Additionally, having smaller families allows
parents to invest more in each child. Children with fewer siblings tend to stay in school longer than those
with many siblings.

Reducing adolescent pregnancies

Pregnant adolescents are more likely to have preterm or low birth-weight babies. Babies born to
adolescents have higher rates of neonatal mortality. Many adolescent girls who become pregnant have to
leave school. This has long-term implications for them as individuals, their families and communities.

Slowing population growth

Family planning is key to slowing unsustainable population growth and the resulting negative impacts on
the economy, environment, and national and regional development efforts.

Contraceptive use

Contraceptive use has increased in many parts of the world, especially in Asia and Latin America, but
continues to be low in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, use of modern contraception has risen slightly, from
54% in 1990 to 57% in 2012. Regionally, the proportion of women aged 1549 reporting use of a modern
contraceptive method has risen minimally or plateaued between 2008 and 2012. In Africa it went from
23% to 24%, in Asia it has remained at 62%, and in Latin America and the Caribbean it rose slightly from
64% to 67%. There is with significant variation among countries in these regions.

Use of contraception by men makes up a relatively small subset of the above prevalence rates. The
modern contraceptive methods for men are limited to male condoms and sterilization (vasectomy).

Global unmet need for contraception

An estimated 222 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are
not using any method of contraception. Reasons for this include:

limited choice of methods;

limited access to contraception, particularly among young people, poorer segments of populations, or
unmarried people;

fear or experience of side-effects;

cultural or religious opposition;

poor quality of available services;

gender-based barriers.

The unmet need for contraception remains too high. This inequity is fueled by both a growing population,
and a shortage of family planning services. In Africa, 53% of women of reproductive age have an unmet
need for modern contraception. In Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean regions with relatively
high contraceptive prevalence the levels of unmet need are 21% and 22%, respectively.

Catholic and pro-RH

Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

And thats the Truth
CAN you be Catholic and pro-RH too?
Even as the contentious RH Bill 4244 is undergoing amendment in Congress, the Church perseveres in its
fight for human life. Increasingly virulent attacks against the Catholic Church continue to be launched in
media, especially social media, branding her as the biggest stumbling block to the approval of the bill
that sees population control as the solution to poverty.
Unable to resist the gravity of President Noynoys agenda, RH proponents voted to end the debate a day
ahead of schedule. They said it was a tiresome, repetitive exercise in futility, stubbornly refusing to see
that questions had to be raised over and over again because their answers dismally failed to deliver the
Through the RH debates, a glaring truth surfaces: central to the head-on collision is the difference in the
way the two camps regard the human being.
RH Bill sees the person (especially the poor person) as a number in the arithmetic of population statistics;
the Church sees the person, any person, as a child of God.
RH Bill sees the human body as something owned, managed and used by its owner alone; the Church
teaches that the human body is created by God and to be used according to a divine purpose.
RH Bill believes sexual pleasure is a human right that need not result in pregnancy; the Church maintains
that sexual pleasure has its place in the divine plan, and that a new human being (unwanted or not) is
always another gift from God.
RH Bill asserts that a person may freely resort to all scientific, gadgets, services and devices that impede
unwanted fertilization or bring pregnancy to a halt; the Church teaches that the human body, being the
temple of the Holy Spirit, must be free from defilement brought on by inventions that interfere with
natures life-giving processes.
RH Bill sees a new human being (especially if poor) only as another mouth to feed, clothe, shelter, a
burden to the countrys economy, progress, and development; the Church maintains that the new human
being should always be welcome in a nation that runs its affairs with justice and equality for all.
RH Bill implies that the person is an entity that can control his destiny by ordering his reproductive
systema little more than any animate species, actually; the Church is certain that every human being
has a soul, and therefore may not be treated as a mere pawn in a population control game.
The above mentioned difference in thought is not readily grasped by all, as may be observed from public
reaction. If you pay attention to the exchange of comments tailing the news reports online, you might
cringe from the fierceness with which RH supporters assault the Church. They harangue the bishops,
berate the priests, insult the ordinary anti-RH folks, and even rebuke the Pope for being outdated, narrow-
minded and like all other Catholics, hypocritical. For them, we are all stupid, ignorant, self-righteous,
an impediment to progress, a curse on society. Such frontal attacks are no longer the domain of legitimate
mainstream columnists or radio-TV commentators; they are all overFacebook, Twitter, blogs, forums of
all sorts. They even divide families, while friends avoid discussing them.
Its even more saddening when the critics claim to be Catholic. I am a Catholic but I am all for RH is
their usual battle cry, emboldened, perchance, by someone who has said not a few times, I am a
congressman who happens to be Catholic, but I am not a Catholic congressman.
How can one be Catholic and not let his faith inform his actions in the world? How can one claim to be
Catholic and not fight for the values that the Catholic Church upholds, particularly, in this case, the right
to life? How can one be at peace as a Catholic and pass a law exposing the poor to terrible danger by
keeping them ignorant of the damage that contraception does to their health? How can one be Catholic
and blind the poor to the truth that they possess innate strength to help them overcome difficulties without
endangering their childrens future? How can one be Catholic and rob the poor of faith in themselves, in
their fellowmen, and in a provident God?
A Catholic and at the same time fighting for a culture of death?
If there is one thing this brouhaha over a contentious bill is underlining, it is that the time is ripe, indeed,
for the New Evangelization. And thats the truth.
Arguments as to why this bill should be
The Reproductive Health Bills will be abbreviated as 'RH Bill', and will be recognized as said in section 1 of the bill: SEC. 1.
Title: This Act shall be known as the The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of
2011. [1]

*1 Sexual/Reproductive Health Care Programs: Promotes positive sex education and other health
services (Free. Medical or Legal). [1]

Conclusion: The bill provides accurate sex education to youths, as said in Sec. 16 of the Bill: Mandatory
Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education. Since most youths enter relationships (or
marriage) without any knowledge or benefit of the orderly reccomendation of schools or social institutes,
and because of human nature, and the promiscuity of teenagers, and their knowledge on sex, it affects
their decisions as a result. Lots of young people could lose their future, health or probably their lives if
this bill isn't passed.

*2 Protects/Saves the health of the people (esp. women).

Conclusion: As I said, the bill promotes health care. Women are affected and are victimized more when being
pregnant, complications arise during pregnancy, which are serious enough to hospitalize or kill women [2].
According to WHO, Women die every minute, at least 1 woman dies from complications, and for every female
who dies during pregnancy, around 20 more suffer, this is a result of complications when giving birth [3]. This
Bill saves women from being raped then possibly getting HIV/AIDS or some other disease or falsed
pregnancy. This Bill saves lives. From cancer and HIV/AIDS. All these are part of RH education and care.

*3 Protects/Saves babies

Conclusion: When women are saved from pregnancy complications, the rate of infant deaths will diminish. the
bill saves babies who die during childbirth, saves babies from premature childbirth, it saves them from poverty,
from being tortured and being raised by unfit parents who endager their welfare.

*4 By popular votes of the majority of the Filipino people.

Conclusion: The Filipinos have spoken, according to a recent survey, 82% of the Filipino people say family
planning method is a personal choice and 73% want information on legal methods available from government.
They believe that no one should interfere with their right to choose, that the RH Bill is an imprortant bill which
needs to be passed [4] (Please refer to that link for more info on that matter).

*5 Freedom of Choice: A fundamental right.

Conclusion: The bill promotes this right and responds to the majority who want smaller families. Most couples
nowadays in the Philippines want smaller families but end up with families larger than what they desire. It
promotes family empowerment, family planning and responsible parenthood. It can develop and solve the
population issue in the Philippines. Thewill promote equity in health through the health institutions as I said in
*1. Removing them of this right is abuse of democracy.

Some arguments against RH Bill that I will refute:

"Contraceptives (particularly condoms) are bad."

How are they bad? Condoms is arguably one the best inventions of man to date. It helps us from
HIV/AIDs and cancer.

"Sex Education will corrupt the minds of our children."

We live in the age where youths are in touch with technology, just leave them alone bored and they'll
search for pornography and other stuffs which are more corrupt than this. Sex education, as I said it, helps
the youngsters by giving them accurate knowledge on Reproductive health/hygiene.

"Once this bill is passed, people will engage in premarital sex."

As if this never happened before in our country. Premarital sex happens everywhere, as you read this,
probably a million people are having premarital sex right now.

"The RH Bill is wrong because it is immoral, it is against God."

Sure, 90% of the nation might be Catholic, but that whopping 10% includes other religions, and almost
3% of that 10% have no religion [5]. The Philippines is a secular country, and according to the 1986 PH
constitution (Article II, Section 6), secularism should be inviolable [6]. It is not immoral, as I said in my
previous arguments. It helps people.

"It's abortion."

Contraception is NOT Abortion. Abortion is technically defined as the termination of pregnancy [7],
whereas contraception are techniques and methods used to prevent human fertilization [8]. There's the
difference. I leave my opponent to refute some of these arguments.

Reasons Why We Need the RH Law'

By Clara Rita Padilla, EnGendeRights
Posted at Aug 16 2010 11:36 AM | Updated as of Aug 17 2010 03:18 AM

1. To respond to the clamor of the Philippine population who want the

Reproductive Health Care Bill passed into law

Filipinos are clamoring for the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Bill (RH bill)
into law. The 2008 national and Manila City surveys of the Social Weather Stations
(SWS) both confirm that majority of Filipinos want the RH bill passed into law, 71%
and 86%, respectively.

The poor women, adolescent women, rural and indigenous women are the ones most
affected by the lack of a reproductive health care policy. They are the ones who have
the most unintended pregnancies and closely-spaced pregnancies. Their births are
commonly unattended by trained health professionals.

2. To prevent unintended pregnancies

About half of all pregnancies in the Philippines (approximately 1.43 million a year)1
are unintended. The Health Department has noted that Filipino women on average
have one child more than they want.

According to the recently-launched 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey

(2008 NDHS), one in three births is either unwanted or mistimed; over half of married
women age 15-49 do not want another child; 82 percent of married women want
either to space their births or to limit childbearing altogether. The total unmet need for
family planning is 22 percent with highest unmet need for women age 15-19, lowest
quintile of wealth, rural women and women in the Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM). Twenty-six percent of women age 15-24 have already began
child-bearing. The contraceptive prevalence rate was only 36% using modern

3. To prevent maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth

According to the 2008 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World
Population report on the Philippines, at least 230 Filipino mothers die for every
100,000 live births, compared to only 11 in US (with modern method contraceptive
prevalence rate of 68%), seven in Canada, four in Spain (with modern method
contraceptive prevalence rate of 62%), three in Italy, six in Japan, 14 in South Korea,
14 in Singapore (with modern method contraceptive prevalence rate of 53%). Across
Europe, with the exception of Albania, Romania, and Estonia, the maternal mortality
ratio is below 15.
be addressed by a comprehensive reproductive health care policy.

4. To prevent infant mortality

Adequate birth spacing is important for the health of the woman and the children.
Birth spacing of four or more years can increase the survival rate of children less than
five years of age. The under-five mortality rate11 for children born less than two years
after a previous birth is 54 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 25 deaths per
1,000 for children born after an interval of four or more years.

5. To help individuals and couples choose freely and responsibly when to have

Knowing which medically safe and effective methods of contraception to use will
help individuals and couples determine freely and responsibly the number, spacing
and timing of their children. This in turn should ensure that all children are wanted
and loved and will be properly provided for by their parents.

The Constitution states that it shall defend the right of spouses to form a family in
accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible
parenthood (Art. 15, Sec. 14). Every person must be free to make sexual and
reproductive decisions according to her or his own conscience and religious beliefs
free from interference, coercion or constraint.

6. To reduce abortion rates

Increased access to information and services on modern contraceptive methods will

reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, eliminate the need for abortion, and
prevent maternal deaths. It is unfortunate though that the proposed law that could
reduce the number of abortions is being opposed by fundamentalist groups.

In the Philippines, there are half a million women who induce abortion procedures
every year, 79,000 women who are admitted to hospitals for complications from
unsafe abortion and there are 800 women dying from unsafe abortion.

Making abortion safe and legal will save the lives of about 800 Filipino women
representing the number of women who die every year from unsafe abortion. The
legalization of abortion does not increase the number of women inducing abortion
instead it has led to a decrease in number of women dying from unsafe abortion.
Where abortion is legal, like in Canada and Turkey, abortion rates did not increase
while the Netherlands, with its liberal abortion law and widely accessible
contraceptives and free abortion services, has one of the lowest abortion rates in the
world. Deaths due to abortion fell 85 percent after legalization in the US.

7. To give rape victims a better chance to heal from their ordeal

Giving rape victims access to emergency contraception (EC) like levonorgestrel can
help them prevent unwanted pregnancies. The availability of Postinor, a brandname
for levonorgestrel, has been prey to religious fundamentalist attack. Then Health
Secretary Alberto Romualdez, Jr. issued a Position Paper in 1999 allowing its
dispensation to rape victims through the hospital-based DOH network of Women and
Children Protection Units (WCPU). Subsequently, however, Postinor was delisted by
the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and, despite requests for its re-registration, it
has not been allowed to be registered again by the BFAD.

8. To prevent early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases especially among

The Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Bill (RH bill) recommends that the
government provide mandatory reproductive health education starting at Grade 5.
According to our obligations under CEDAW, teenage pregnanciespresent a
significant obstacle to girls educational opportunities and economic empowerment.
It is the governments duty to give priority attention to the situation of adolescents
and that it provide sex education, targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to
the prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The social impact of early childbirth for adolescent girls includes disruption of
schooling and the resulting lack of career options due to low educational attainment
and lack of necessary job skills. Lack of career options in turn result in lack of
financial capability.

9. To address the rising HIV/AIDS cases

The HIV epidemic in the Philippines is steadily growing. At the start of 2010, there
are already four new cases being reported every month compared to the two new cases
reported monthly in 2009. According to the estimates of Dr. Enrique Tayag, Director
of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC), there will be an additional 1,500
Filipinos newly-infected by HIV by December 2010 and around 4,000 - 7,000 by

10. To avoid the negative impact of large families on poor families

For many poor families, a large family size results in further poverty and lack of
access to education and health services, among others. There are also studies showing
that the eldest or second eldest from poor, large families end up in prostitution to meet
their families needs and many women from large families also end up being

11. To free womens bodies from being held hostage by politics and

Groups such as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have
continuously opposed the passage of the RH bill into law. It even identified in its
guidelines for the 2010 elections that voters should not vote for candidates who
support the RH bill. The above findings on the negative impact of the non-passage of
the RH bill and the restriction of access to modern contraceptives show that a stance
that is against the passage of the RH bill is not responsive to the needs of the Filipinos
Catholics included. Such a stance on the RH bill is detrimental to womens
reproductive rights and to the lives and well-being of Filipinos especially the poor. In
fact, the results of the 2010 election prove that many Catholic-backed candidates did
not win in the elections.

It has been almost nine years since the first RH bill has been filed in Congress in
December 2001. The failure to pass the RH bill has been detrimental to the health and
lives of Filipinos especially women and children.

Congressional representatives and those in executive positions must make a stand that
clearly supports wide access to reproductive health information, supplies, and
services. This will spell the difference for many womens lives!