RH Bill and the freedom of choice-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
“JUNK THE SATANIC RH BILL.” These were the words printed in capital letters painted on the left wall top view of a huge building near a convent. Whenever I ride a jeep and it stops in that area, my fellow passengers cannot avoid reading it and start a heated discussion.
A few agree to some points of the RH Bill but others detest the bill. Does the government have the right to control population? Should women, as mandated by government policy, take to birth control pills for family planning? Is population growth a major cause of poverty? If we are to control population growth, will it make our life better? Is this controversial RH Bill against the teachings of God which terminates humanity? Or will it benefit or upgrade the lives of Filipinos who suffer from poverty?
The Reproductive Health Bill has been the subject of debates among our fellowmen. In fact, two bills were created for the same goals, House Bill No. 4244 or an “Act providing for a comprehensive policy on responsible parenthood, reproductive health and population development” proposed by Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman and Senate Bill No. 2378 or an “Act providing for a national policy on reproductive health and population and development” introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Arguments about RH Bill came out from the religious sectors, pro-life groups, the conservatives, especially in the provision that national government and private sectors will support and embark on the widespread distribution of family planning devices such as condoms, birth control pill (BCPs) and IUDs and wider information dissemination on its use in all health care centers nationwide. This argument led to more intense debates by concerned citizens
From its context, taken from Wikipedia Encyclopedia “the RH Bill is concerned in controlling the population of the Philippines as it is presumed that the Philippines will become the 12th most crowded and populated nation in the world today.” RH Bill describes Filipino women’s fertility or productiveness in giving birth is getting higher among 206 countries. It shows the condition conferring to studies and surveys “that the Filipinos can be receptive in having few children and can choose kind of family planning methods can be suited to them.” This bill also points out overpopulation can cause poverty and poverty seeds to increase of population. The RH Bill then aims to provide a better standard of living through a uniformed, reliable and comprehensive national population policy.
This policy according to the RH bill “guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.
According to Edcel Lagman, the coverage of the RH includes the following: information and access to natural and modern family planning; maternal, infant and child nutrition; promotion of breast feeding; prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion; adolescent and youth health; prevention and management of reproductive tract infection HIV/AIDS/ and STDs; elimination of violence against women; counselling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health; treatment of breast cancer and reproductive tract cancers; male involvement and participation in RH; prevention and treatment of infertility; and RH education for the youth.
Dustin Celestino, a critic, said, “[The] RH bill is wrong because it then assumes that the Philippines is overpopulated; it assumes that contraceptives are good for mankind and women; the RH Bill will put Filipinos into extinction; it assumes that reproductive education and contraceptives will effectively reduce cases of abortion; and assumes that parents don’t teach their children about sex.”
But Lagman fortified and added, “Reproductive Health Bill promotes information and access to both natural and modern family planning methods, which are medically safe and legally permissible. It assures an enabling environment where women and couples have the freedom of choice on the mode of family planning they want to adopt based on their needs, personal convictions and religious beliefs. He added “the bill does not have any bias for or against natural or modern family planning. Both modes are contraceptives methods and their purpose is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”
The bill promotes sustainable human development. The UN stated in 2002 that “Family planning and reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty. The Unicef also asserts that “family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.” (Reference Philippines Health, Reproductive System and Wikipedia Encyclopedia)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 13, 2012.