on the reproductive health bill

Several weeks ago, I was talking with Marat Safran Foer when the conversation somehow managed to snare us into a trap. You know that sort which involves God and a socially relevant topic? Yes, that sort of trap. The RH Bill trap, specifically.

I know I could never have won that row because I have not read the full text of the bill and Marat knew that I was merely parroting “party-line” arguments the whole time. It embarrasses me now the way poor Krip Yuson must have felt when he admitted to petty plagiarism.

Luckily, I am not Krip Yuson and I can make up for my sheer lack of originality. I read the full text of the final consolidated House Bill 4244. Then I gave myself time to think about it and realized that the bill is truly more than just contraceptives and the word of… God.

If ever I find myself again in the middle of a blood-boiling debate about why I support the passing of the RH Bill, I think I would be ready to do better. Here’s why:

The RH Bill addresses the lack of adequate public reproductive health services. According to a 2008 survey, less than half of births in the Philippines occur in health facilities. The same survey also reveals that 36 percent of births are assisted by a traditional attendant or ‘hilot.’ (I am not terribly good at Math, but I do know 36 percent means around “1 out of 3.”)

Under the RH bill, the Department of Health will assist local government units (LGUs) in employing an adequate number of midwives to achieve a minimum ratio of at least one skilled attendant for every 150 deliveries per year (Section 5). Also, LGUs shall establish or upgrade hospitals with adequate and skilled personnel, equipment, and supplies for emergency obstetric care (Section 6).

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that complications occur in 15 percent of pregnancies, while 11 women die of childbirth every day. The availability of more skilled medical professionals and wider public access to medical facilities and services will surely be a step toward addressing this reality.

The RH Bill upholds the sanctity of life. Pardon the religious cliché, but according to the 2008 National Demographic and Health (NDH) Survey, those who do not use contraceptives make up 68 percent of unintended pregnancies. By providing access to family planning methods, the RH Bill hopes to ultimately curb the number of abortions.

Also, family planning methods will help parents to decide the right time for them to have another child. According to the WHO, at least two years should pass between births to reduce the risk of infant deaths.

The RH Bill will educate and prepare the youth. Section 16 of the bill requires that appropriate reproductive health and sex education be integrated in all relevant subjects from Grade Five to Fourth Year High School.

I remember that when I was in Grade Five my science teacher did a little lesson on teenage pregnancies. I am sure now that it was not in the prescribed lesson plan, but she must have done the right thing, because none of my classmates then got knocked up before college. I might be grossly mistaken but an incident like that would not have escaped Facebook. You know what I mean.

The RH Bill promotes gender and social equity. According to the 2006 Family Planning Survey, 2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their families but they lack in information and access to do so. The same survey also shows that 44 percent of births among the poor are unwanted.

In the 2006 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the poorest families spend only 1.7 percent of the household income on medical care, while the richest families spend 4.0 percent.

Under the RH Bill, poorer couples will have a better opportunity and means to decide how many children they want and can raise. Women would also have more opportunities to advance their education and more time for productive work, since they would be able to plan when they will have children.

Finally, the RH Bill reinforces the right to know and the right to choose. Given adequate and accurate information, we can make sensible decisions that are best for us. By providing access to information and a set of viable options, the RH Bill would let us freely exercise this capacity to know the alternatives and choose wisely and—for devout Catholics—with a clear conscience.

That seems fair enough. And that definitely does not sound bad at all either, does it?


16 thoughts on “on the reproductive health bill

  1. Spiral Prince, I know I should've said something sooner. 🙂Midnight Orgasm, he's not related to Jonathan. And Marat isn't his real name either. 🙂

  2. "Luckily, I am not Krip Yuson" – hahahahah. Nice one.For me that's the most important thing in this law – "It promotes the right to informed and the right to choose."The catholic church has been suppressing the most liberating and the most humanistic information since their existence. Kaya naman ang mga katoliko, wala paring kaase-asenso hanggang ngayon. I am very sure Jesus didn't want that to happen.Thanks for sharing this. The people should make informed decisions, hindi yong porket sinabi lang ng simbahan, yon na rin ang kanila. Katangahan yon.PASS RH BILL NOW!

  3. and why would be listen to anyone from the Christian faith about reproductive health? Christianity is an anti-materialist, ascetic religion whose highest virtues are celibacy and freedom from the body. asking a celibate bishop his opinion on reproductive health is like asking a washington lobbyist his opinion on the risks of long-term tobacco use

  4. thanks for this, victor. this makes me more confident to be on the pro-side. clearly, there must be no reason why this shouldn't be passed into a law.how are you? 😀

  5. I'm thinking Facebook inspired you for this post. I just read an exchange of comments particular to that issue. I bet Elisa did fire up this one. He was firm with his stand being a devout catholic. I had some debate with him regarding the same topic few weeks ago and man, he was unshakable.As a part of the medical field, I say these PROs should realize what's really happening within our community. not just by basing their statements to studies done internationally rather than local. They seemed to be actually blinded by dogmas of the church which even for a fact also needed some serious analysis with their interpretation of their so-called "Teachings".I really believe above all, its better to have than something than to entrust all in mere fate.

  6. I don't understand why some people's mindset are still stuck in the Dark Ages. What's wrong with using a condom? They're pretty cool: some glow in the dark and some come in Tootie Fruity Flavors.

  7. The bill emphasizes the "FREEDOM of choice".. I am also PRO-RH. Nakakainis lang yung ginagamit na yung religion as an excuse. Like duh!!! The RH Bill is not all about sex and religion.. it is also about health, fertility awareness and responsible relationships. Hmm.. here's my stand. I hope it's okay with you if I share a link.. :)http://teddybearblogs.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/my-stand-rh-bill/

  8. Yes, we are burdened by poverty, corruption, poor quality of education and it seems, overpopulation (among others).But so much heat has been generated by the RH Bill debate. I hope, in the process of debate, it doesn't just boil down to knee jerk reactions and biases.We are all for freedom of choice. But it has to be, just as important, an informed and intelligent choice.Thanks.

  9. I do not even understand why bible-thumping freaks have to get their grubby hands into this issue. The fact that the Church is anti-RH Bill suggests that they want the mass of people to remain uneducated and unprepared about sexual issues. How is that really promoting God's word? I don't see the correlation really. I mean ok, I get it, copulation, religiously speaking, is supposed to be for procreation, but let's face it, people who do not want children are having sex, so why not help prevent unwanted pregnancies? The RH Bill should be passed. No doubt about it.

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