Health Bill, informally known as the RH Bill, are proposed laws in theRepublic of the Philippines aiming to guarantee universal access to methods oncontraception, abortion, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care.  There are presently two bills with the same intended goals: House Bill # 4244 – An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and For Other Purposes * Senate Bill # 2378 – An Act Providing For a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development While there is general agreement about its provisions on maternal and child health, there is great debate on its key proposal that the Philippine government and the private sector will fund and undertake widespread distribution of family planning devices such as condoms,birth control pills (BCPs) and IUDs, as the government continues to disseminate information on their use through all health care centers.
On October 2012, a revised version of the same bill was presently re-named to Responsible Parenthood Act and was filed in the House of Representatives as a result of re-introducing the bill under a different impression after overwhelming opposition in the country, especially from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. The bill is highly divisive, with experts, academics, religious institutions, and major political figures supporting and opposing it, often criticizing the government and each other in the process. Debates and rallies proposing and opposing the bills, with tens of thousands of opposition particularly those endorsed by the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and various other conservative groups, have been happening nationwide. Stated purpose
One of the main concerns of the bill, according to the Explanatory Note, is that the population of the Philippines makes it “the 12th most populous nation in the world today”, that the Filipino women’s fertility rate is “at the upper bracket of 206 countries. ” It states that studies and surveys “show that the Filipinos are responsive to having smaller-sized families through free choice of family planning methods. ” It also refers to studies which “show that rapid population growth exacerbates poverty while poverty spawns rapid population growth. ” And so it aims for improved quality of life through a “consistent and coherent national population policy.  As policy it states that the State “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.
Edcel Lagman, principal author of the reproductive health bill, and printed in this section on Aug. 3. Lagman? s first article highlighted the main features of the measure, while his second noted the campaign to discredit it. He claimed that the bill was not anti-life and that it would not interfere with family life, legalize abortion, promote contraceptive mentality and impose a two-child policy. Lagman also claimed that Humanae Vitae was not an infallible doctrine. Besides the articles of the head of the Legal Office of the Catholic Bishops? Conference of the Philippines and of a former senator, Talk of the Town received responses from Catholic groups and individuals countering Lagman? s views. The responses came from Fr.
Virgilio Delfin of the Diocese of Malaybalay, Pet Palma Dureza of Quezon City, Maria Concepcion S. Noche of the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Jose Fernandez of the Family Life Apostolate of St. John the Baptist Parish in Taytay, Rizal, and Minyong Ordonez, a retired chair of the Paris-based Publicis Communications Group. Talk of the Town also received an e-mail from Felix Libreto, a professor at the UP Open University, and a position paper of 26 economists from the University of the Philippines supporting the bill. Because of limited space, this section cannot print all the reactions to Lagman? s articles. * * * Reckless and irresponsible By Jo Imbong REP.
EDCEL LAGMAN, THE PRINCIPAL AUTHOR OF THE proposed Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 asserts, among others, that the bill is neither antilife nor antifamily, that contraceptives are not life-threatening and that the bill does not impose a two-child policy. Prolife? To value human life is to respect and protect life in all its seasons. ?Human life begins at fertilization.? (Records of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. IV, Sept. 18, 1986, pp. 761, 801) hence, ? the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.? (Constitution, Article II, Section 12). Lagman said in a House hearing that the bill would protect human life ? from implantation.? By that token, the zygote not yet in the mother? s womb is not protected. Pills and the IUD hinder implantation of the embryo in the uterus, thereby precipitating the embryo? s destruction. That is abortion.
And yet, ? every child … needs appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). Not life-threatening? Records are rife of perforation of the uterus and serious pelvic infections in women with IUDs that public midwives have refused to extract. The Mayo Foundation found that oral contraceptives are associated with an increase risk of breast cancer. DepoProvera increases a woman? s risk for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Oral contraceptives containing cyproterone increase risk of deep venous blood clots. Levonorgestrel is banned in this country as the Bureau of Food and Drugs found it to be abortifacient.
Life-threatening ectopic pregnancies occur in mothers long after undergoing tubal ligation, particularly those sterilized before age 30. Contraceptives as essential medicines? Contraceptives do not treat any medical condition. Fertility is not a disease. It attests to health! The bill targets ? the poor, needy and marginalized.? This is most unkind to them whose real needs are jobs, skills, education, lucrative opportunities, nutrition, and essential medicines for anemia, tuberculosis, infections and childhood diseases. Remember, every citizen has the right to health (Art. II, Sec. 15), hence, the State has a duty to protect the citizens against dangerous substances (Constitution, Art. XVI, Sec. 9), and protect women in their maternal function (Art. XIII,Sec. 4). Family friendly? The ? encouragement? to have two children is manipulation both brazen and subtle. It can set the stage for a stronger application of the recommendation through legislative amendments. Spouses have a basic, original, intrinsic and inviolable right ? to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood? (Art. XV, Sec. 3 ). This includes their right to progeny. The bill mocks parents with fine and imprisonment in refusing to expose their children to mandatory ? age-appropriate? reproductive health education starting Grade 5 outside the loving confines of home and family.
Vulnerable and malleable, our children will be taught ? adolescent reproductive health? and ? the full range of information on family planning methods, services and facilities? for six years. This is child abuse of the highest order. And yet, ? every child has the right to be brought up in an atmosphere of morality and rectitude for the enrichment and strengthening of his character.? (Child and Youth Welfare Code) The … care and nurtur[ance] of the child reside first in the parents (Article II, Sec. 12, Constitution), whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. (Brantley v. Surles, 718 F. 2d. 354,1358-59) The State did not create the family, and ? the child is not a creature of the State.? (Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, 268, U. S. 510, 535. ) That is the law of nature, and no human institution has authority to amend it. Quality of life? The bill wants to ? uplift the quality of life of the people.? Population control started in 1976 ? to increase the share of each Filipino in the fruits of economic progress.? In other words — to eliminate poverty. Has it? The General Appropriations Act of 2008 earmarks an enormous amount for ? family planning and reproductive health services,? including contraceptives. For the Department of Health it is P3. 19 billion; for Popcom — P386. million, quite apart from funds for other agencies of government and local government units for the same programs. Add $2. 4 million from the United Nations Population Fund for population and development and reproductive health for 2008, plus $2. 2 million for 2009. Today? s average family has three children compared with seven in the ? 70s. But the billions of pesos spent have not reduced poverty or benefited the poor. If Congress passes this bill, it wagers the future of the country. Citizens have a right to resist misplaced and irresponsible exercise of authority because the good of the people is the supreme law. Salus populi est suprema lex.
The path of irresponsible legislation is a dreadful path: If an act is made legal, it will be perceived as moral. If an act is perceived as moral, it will become a norm. If it is observed by all as a norm, then it is too late. By then, you will have changed the culture. That is not simply reckless. It is the ultimate breach of public trust. (Jo Imbong, a lawyer, is the executive secretary of the Legal office of the Catholic Bishops? Conference of the Philippines and consultant to the CBCP Episcoal Commission on Family and Life. ) * * * No place for the RH bill in our law By Francisco S. Tatad THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH bill in the House of Representatives is being presented as a health bill and an antipoverty bill at the same time. It is neither.
It is not what its authors say it is; it is everything they say it is not. It is an ideological attack on human life, the family, and our social and cultural values. The bill rests on a flawed premise; it is unnecessary, unconstitutional, oppressive of religious belief and destructive of public morals and family values. Its enactment into law will only deepen the already frightening ignorance about the real issues. It should be rejected. 1. Flawed premise Our population growth rate (National Statistics Office) is 2. 04 percent, total fertility rate (TFR) is 3. 02. The CIA World Factbook has lower figures — growth rate, 1. 728 percent; TFR, 3. 00. Our population density is 277 per square km.
GDP per capita (PPP) is $3,400. Fifty other countries have a much lower density, yet their per capita is also much lower. Thirty-six countries are more densely populated, yet their GDP per capita is also much higher. Are the few then always richer, the many always poorer? Not at all. Our median age is 23 years. In 139 other countries it is as high as 45. 5 years (Monaco). This means a Filipino has more productive years ahead of him than his counterpart in the rich countries where the graying and dying population is no longer being replaced because of negative birth rates. Our long-term future is bright, because of a vibrant and dynamic population. 2. Unnecessary
Women who say they should be free to contracept (regardless of what the moral law or science says) are not being prevented from doing so, as witness the 50-percent contraceptive prevalence rate. It is a free market. But as we are not a welfare state, taxpayers have no duty to provide the contraceptives to try and cure pregnancy, which is not a disease. The State? s duty is to protect women from real diseases. At least 80 women die every day from heart diseases, 63 from vascular diseases, 51 from cancer, 45 from pneumonia, 23 from tuberculosis, 22 from diabetes; 16 from lower chronic respiratory diseases. Why are our lawmakers not demanding free medicines and services for all those afflicted?
Indeed, maternal death could be brought down to zero just by providing adequate basic and emergency obstetrics-care facilities and skilled medical services to women. The local officials of Gattaran, Cagayan and Sorsogon City have shown this. Why do our lawmakers insist on stuffing our women with contraceptives and abortifacients instead? In 2005, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization concluded that oral contraceptives cause breast, liver and cervical cancer. Shouldn? t our lawmakers demand that contraceptives be banned or at least labeled as ? cancer-causing,? or ? dangerous to women? s health?? Why do they want them classified as ? essential medicines? instead? 3. Unconstitutional a. ) The Philippines is a democratic and republican State.
Yet the bill seems to assume we are a centrally planned economy or a totalitarian State, which controls the private lives of its citizens. Truth is, there are certain activities of man as man where the individual is completely autonomous from the State. Just as the State may not tell a politician or a journalist how or when to think, write or speak, it may not enter the bedroom and tell married couples how or when to practice marital love. b. ) Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution says: ? The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.
The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.? The use of ? sanctity? makes State obedience to God? s laws not only a solemn teaching of the Church, but also an express constitutional mandate. Now, when the State binds itself to ? equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception,? it necessarily binds itself not to do anything to prevent even one married woman from conceiving. A state-funded contraceptive program is an abomination. 4. Oppressive of religious belief The bill seeks to tell the Catholic majority not to listen to the Church and to listen to anti-Catholic politicians instead.
It seeks to establish a program which Catholic taxpayers will fund in order to attack a doctrine of their faith. Is there a worse despotism? Would the same people do the same thing to the followers of Islam or some politically active religious pressure group? The pro-RH lobby claims surveys have shown that most Catholic women want to use contraception, regardless of what the Church says about it. It is a desperate attempt to show that right or wrong can now be reduced to what you like or dislike. The truth is never the result of surveys. Contraception is wrong not because the Church has banned it; the Church has banned it because it is wrong. No amount of surveys can change that. 5. Destructive of public morals
The bill seeks to impose a hedonistic sex-oriented lifestyle that aims to reduce the conjugal act to a mere exchange of physical sensations between two individuals and marriage to a purely contraceptive partnership. Not only is it hedonistic, it is above all eugenicist. It seeks to eliminate the poor and the ? socially unfit.? While it neither mandates a two-child family nor legalizes abortion, it prepares the ground for both. In 1974, the US National Security Study Memorandum 200, titled ? Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests,? launched the two-child family as a global population policy to be achieved by 2000.
But ? no country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion,? said that document. Now you know what? s next, and where it? s all coming from. MANILA, Philippines—Hundreds of people, some arriving in private vehicles and others on foot, gathered outside the Edsa Shrine at a usually suburban Manila intersection Saturday for what church leaders had described as a massive prayer rally to show Congress most Filipinos were against the reproductive health bill pending in legislature for years. Many of the faithful, who braved intermittent rains and occasional winds, stood under umbrellas as they waited for the rally to get underway.
Bishop Gabriel Reyes, chair of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, was spotted in the area. So was Father Melvin Castro, the commission’s executive secretary. Maribel Descallar, operations director of the commission, said the program was to start at 1:00 p. m. Senior Superintendent Antonio Gumiran, deputy district director for operations, told the Inquirer they expected a crowd of at least 3,000 people. Organizers said Friday they were expecting up to 50,000 people at the rally. Gumiran refused to say how many policemen were deployed in the area but only a few were visible to an inquirer reporter toward noon Saturday.
The Catholic Church has started to bring out the big guns in its campaign against the reproductive health (RH) bill. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle on Thursday issued a circular urging the faithful to converge at the Edsa Shrine on Saturday for a Mass and rally against the bill. “Relying on the power of prayer and the necessity of informed awareness, we will gather together to be informed, enlightened and emboldened once more. We also wish to express why we believe the reproductive health bill is not the solution to our many problems as individuals and as a country as it will even give rise to many other problems more pernicious and pervasive than the ones we face in the present,” Tagle said. I enjoin all parish priests and leaders of communities and lay movements to rally their members and endorse participation in this important gathering aimed at communicating a strong and sincere appeal to the goodwill of our legislators,” Tagle said in his letter. The prayer rally will be a show of force for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after President Benigno Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week urged the swift passage of the bill, which would provide universal access and information on natural and modern family methods and reduce the number of mothers and babies dying during childbirth. On August 7, the House will vote on whether to wrap up debate and move the bill forward. CBCP officials said they would have a vigil at the House on the eve of the vote and that mass actions would also be held in other dioceses. Time for a vote
President Aquino said Thursday it was time to put the bill to a vote. “I hope that the point when we need to vote comes. Otherwise, Congress may have already adjourned and we’re still in the period of debate; so we won’t know what the people want. Perhaps the debate should be wrapped up, and we should make a decision on this so-called responsible parenthood bill once and for all,” Mr. Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview. On the anti-RH rally, Mr. Aquino said: “We’re all prolife, aren’t we? We want an improved quality of life for our countrymen. So that is their right and I’m sure they will not endeavor to do anything against the law. So we will secure this rally if it pushes through. Malacanang on Thursday also shrugged off an announcement that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now a Pampanga representative, will vote against the measure and that seven of her allies had withdrawn sponsorship of the measure. Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said that Arroyo and Catholic bishops have been vocal about their opposition to the bill. He said the Church’s invitation to her to join the anti-RH rally should not be given political meaning. Arroyo was freed last week from eight months of hospital arrest after posting bail on election sabotage charges against her. “I would not want to speak on behalf of the bishops about whether or not this is leading to some kind of support for the former President.
This is a measure that should not be viewed in stark political terms because it actually got societal implications,” he said in a briefing. Not Aquino-Arroyo showdown A vote on the bill should not be seen as a showdown between Mr. Aquino, the bill’s chief campaigner, and Arroyo, Carandang said. “It’s an important measure and we’re not viewing it in terms of partisan politics. It’s something that we feel is long overdue. It needs to be done, and we’re doing it in that context. I understand that there are observers who are viewing this (showdown) in that way, but we’re simply looking at it right now as a measure that has oppositors, that needs to go through the process and we’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Carandang said Malacanang respected the withdrawal of support by some lawmakers, but did not view the entire anti-RH bill campaign as “Arroyo’s effort. ” “We respect the democratic space in which the debate is being undertaken. At the same time, we hope that our friends in Congress will see the wisdom of this measure,” he added. While Catholic bishops have counted 140 lawmakers as opposed to the measure based on survey and public consultations, Carandang said it was too early to tell whether the administration had the numbers to defeat them. “You can never tell until the vote is there. But we are confident that we have support,” he said. “We’re hoping that those of us who are on the administration’s side will continue to support this effort. ”