Notes on the RH Bill-A A +A
Carl Vinson Apura
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
THE raging public discussion on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is expected to intensify amid the termination of debates at the House of Representatives Monday.
While pro-RH groups welcome this move be the majority at the House, the Catholic Church dominated anti-RH bloc is definitely not giving up the fight saying it will endorse anti-RH politicians in next year’s midterm elections.
Well, let us leave the political angle this time and delve into the essential – what the RH Bill is all about?
I have been going over reading materials on this controversial measure to try if my stand will change but I’m afraid it only made me stand firmer – this country badly needs a policy for reproductive health.
Reproductive health is not only about contraception. It is about the choice for a state of full physical, mental, and social well-being. It is about the freedom to decide when and how to reproduce.
The RH Bill seeks to provide reproductive health for all so that even the poorest population can have access to family planning services. Further, it seeks to allow couples to have an informed choice in planning for their family’s future.
Let me stress the point from the words of a renowned constitution expert who happens to be a priest – Fr. Joaquin Bernas. Fr. Bernas in an article he wrote last year for the Philippine Daily Inquirer said: “…there are many valuable points in the bill’s Declaration of Policy and Principles which are desperately needed especially by poor women who cannot afford the cost of medical service. There are specific provisions which give substance to these good points…”
Critics say it (RH Bill) is anti-life, an assault to the Catholic faith, and will only impose population control.
My learning from attending various forums tells me otherwise.
The bill instead seeks population development – one that allows couples to achieve desired family size while ensuring the health each family member.
We must be careful in using ‘population control’ as the concept would mean the use of coercion or force to implement population measures against the people’s will, which in this case is not embodied in the RH Bill.
Will the RH Bill legalize abortion? Definitely not and never will it favor abortion. The proposed law maintains abortion as crime punishable by law. The bill, however, aims to help women suffering from post-abortion complications in the most humane way.
The bill neither promotes promiscuity among the youth nor does it encourage premarital sex. In fact, according to a UN study, young people who learn about their sexuality become more careful on matters about sex.
I am a baptized catholic myself but I am confident my support to the RH Bill will not cause my excommunication.
As for this fear of being kicked out of one’s church, here is what Fr. Bernas has to say: “I am dismayed by preachers telling parishioners that support for the RH Bill ipso facto is a serious sin or merits excommunication! I find this to be irresponsible.”
Chances that the bill will be passed are higher now as it hurdled over the second phase of legislation. Both sides, however, prepare for another round of battle in its amendment phase.
And as we await the future of this decade old bill, let us remember that getting the facts right is key in having an informed stand.
Let us open our eyes. Let us not distort what the RH Bill is all about.
Interestingly on Monday, while Congress debates on the RH Bill, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Dr. Arsenio Balisacan attributed the country's stunting economy to its rapid population growth.
"The country’s rapid population growth constrains its ability to move to higher, long-term growth," Balisacan said in an interview after a briefing at the Senate on the 2013 national budget.
Though he did not downrightly point to RH Bill as the answer to population growth Dr. Balisacan said it is the bill’s intention to provide opportunities for the poor to manage their family size and allow them to invest in their children’s health and education.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 08, 2012.