Sotto cites 'abortion loophole' in RH bill-A A +A
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
SENATE Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday that the Reproductive Health bill being debated in the Senate has provisions that could be misinterpreted to allow abortion.
In a press statement, Sotto cited a provision in the bill assuring women who undergo abortions "shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner" for post-abortion complications. He added a clause in the bill that ensures "the State shall equip each parent with the necessary information on all aspects of family life including RH" could be interpreted as support for abortion.
"If enacted into law, will this mean that if a certain couple only wants to have two children but the mother will become pregnant, does this mean that the State shall equip that parent with the means to abort the child?" he said.
Neither the version of the bill at the Senate nor the House of Representatives decriminalizes abortion, a point that RH advocates have repeatedly stated.
He said he had to raise his concerns over the potential loophole in the bill "because we might only regret in the end our decision in approving it for overlooking some crucial details that are open for misinterpretation of some sectors."
Sotto also scored the bill over support from the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). He said that IPPF has been lobbying for the legalization of abortion. He said the IPPF gave the local lobby group P25 million in funding in 2010.
"It is alarming to know that despite being connected to an org that promotes abortion, FPOP is one of the partners of the DOH family planning program," he said.
The FPOP is listed as a full member of the IPPF, and is mentioned on the international organization's website. Its services include "ensuring universal access to quality family planning information, education and services to increase adolescent involvement in addressing their sexual and reproductive health concerns, (and) to mobilize public support to safeguard the individual right to family planning." Abortion is not mentioned.
On its own website, FPOP says it offers medical and dental services as well as family planning services, which include access to contraceptives. It also has a program to "provide condoms, injectables, tubal ligation, vasectomy, IUDs, and pills to 40,000 poorest couples throughout their reproductive lifetime." It does not list abortion as one of the services it offers.
The Senate has begun debating on the RH bill, with Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano fielding questions from Sotto and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)