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We recognizes several findings of national surveys in 2008 that 25 infants die per 1000 live births, that health professionals assisted only 62% of births at delivery maternal mortality rate has barely decreased since 1998, and that total unmet need for family planning (wait before next pregnancy or no more pregnancy) in the country is 22 percent and that the total demand for family planning in the country is 73 percent. The Philippines still falls short of millennium development goals to reduce infant and maternal mortality rate. We recognize the findings of a corroborative study by the U.P. and the Guttmacher Institute2 that 6/10 Filipino women aged 15-49 say they have experienced an unintended pregnancy and about 1/3 of these pregnancies end in abortion. Moreover the bill has proven not to be a waste of government funding as medical costs for all women experiencing both intended and unintended pregnancies in 2008 (at Phil Health rates) along with the cost of contraceptive services were at least P9.3 Billion combined. Without current contraceptive use, cost of medical care for all pregnant women would be at least P12.1 Billion. We believe that the State has a primary role in upholding fundamental rights like Health for all constituents regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic standing. Furthermore, reproductive health is an essential part of human AND gender rights; it has different implications for men, women, adults and children. Key principles to this approach say that individuals have the right to control their sexual and reproductive lives and make reproductive decisions without interference or coercion. That the right to non-discrimination and respect for difference requires governments to ensure equal access to health care for everyone and to address the unique health needs of women, men and adolescents. And that the governments is obliged to make comprehensive reproductive health services available and remove barriers to care, in order to fulfil people’s rights to life and health. We believe that the tenets of the Primary Health Care have a role in effective implementation of better reproductive health in our country; an approach that is holistic, multidisciplinary and multisectoral and that deals with its social determinants and invokes community participation along with the appropriate use of medical techniques and technologies. We recognize that there is a need for a comprehensive and holistic reproductive health bill to address the country’s issues pertaining to reproductive health and that HB 4244 is such a policy that shall fulfill this need. Thus the University of the Philippines; Manila, University Student Council calls for the urgent passage of House Bill 4244, also known as the Reproductive Health Bill. As representatives of the premiere Health Science Center of the Filipino people, we support a bill that upholds the rights of the people to informed choice and access to legal, medically safe and effective reproductive health care services and technologies. As the future of this country’s healthcare system, we recognize the value of a progressive framework that will further empower not just us professionals but especially the volunteers such as barangay health workers. We support a bill that uses a holistic paradigm in addressing issues of our country especially on health. This paradigm helps answer the reproductive health needs of the individual throughout life by disease prevention, appropriate education, provision of medically safe, legal, efficient and effective reproductive health services and human resource development especially in impoverished and/or geographically isolated areas.
The Bill doesn’t aim to control our population. As one of the Guiding Principles of HB 4244 states that it does not have a demographic or population target and that the mitigation of the population is incidental to the promotion of reproductive health and sustainable human development. The Bill does not limit a couple’s right to choose the number of children that they would like to have. Rather, it gives them the means to exercise that choice without resorting to abortion because it recognizes the right to life of the unborn child. Thus, the argument that the bill would pave the way for the legalization of abortion is illogical as it aims to reduce, if not obliterat e cases of abortions through lowering the number of unintended pregnancies. A smaller family-size may also render families less vulnerable to poverty. The smaller the family, less mouths to feed, and a larger per-capita income. What's more, the Bill is not the definitive solution to poverty. Rather, it is a stepping-stone towards the formulation of more effective policies that would address poverty as other issues contribute to the existence of poverty and necessitate different interventions. To further our cause, we must also lobby and fight for the increase of our national budget for health as this too, is severely lacking. We believe that such policy may be subject to abuse by health insurance companies, pharmaceutical and other health related entities, and individuals. We therefore call for the strict implementation of rules and guidelines, physician accountability, and public vigilance, to protect national interest and human rights. This includes reproductive technologies such as oral contraceptives (OCPs) which may be utilized for abortive measures when misused. With all these presented the UP Manila University Student Council calls on our lawmakers to cease the endless bickering and pass HB 4244. A decision made through facts, remaining unbiased, and uninfluenced. A decision that we believe would protect national interest and uphold the fundamental rights of the Filipino people.