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RH bill about rights, not health
Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 05:18:00 11/15/2010 Filed Under: Health, Legislation, Family, Human Rights WE ARE interested in our rights. We are all interested in our health. Reproductive health is about rights. The explanatory note of House Bill 96 titled An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and for other purposes describes the bill as rights-based. Reproductive health originated from the term reproductive rights, a phrase designed by some women of the International Conference of Women in Beijing in September 1995, and defined as the right of women over their reproductive system. This was used to protect the women from the slavery and anguish of pregnancy and child-bearing. This principle upholds that women have the right to prevent or terminate their pregnancy (or abort their baby) in any way they want. In other words, women have a right to have sex and abandon its consequence, to engage in sexual activity without obligation. Indeed, birth control is, as GK Chesterton wittingly put it, less birth, no control.

After eating and drinking, one urinates or defecates to remove organic wastes that are toxic for the body. Sex is not like that. The male semen and female ova are not wastes. From them, human life is formed. What the RH bill does is to redefine sex and make Filipinos believe that regulating the sexual drive is impossible, that we need to pour out billions to produce condoms, IUDs, injectables, etc. to protect us from our unruly sexual drives.

HB 96 proposes to institutionalize the access and use of artificial methods (see Sec. 7 of the RH bill on PhilHealth use) which it labels as essential medicines (Sec. 9). I have been doing social work for several years. I have experienced consoling a mother who availed of Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate) and suffered numbness and swollen thighs. Another lady experienced dizziness and a feeling of fatigue. Still another mother died of IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) infection and severe bleeding. Some other mothers taking hormonal pills complained of nausea, blood spotting and dim eyesight. Are these what the RH bill proponents call essential medicines? Yes, RH bill is about rights, but not about health.

We do not need to create rights that forsake our health. As humans, we have inherent rights. Unfortunately, HB 96 does not uphold the universal human right to live. This explains why various individuals, from both religious and secular sectors, institutions and communities question the RH bill, a bill that diverts people s money to means that destroy the woman s body and corrupt human sexuality.

PROF. SHERLA NAJERA, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City manajera@up.edu.ph