On the Reproductive Health Bill

Two of my female colleagues and I had a discussion yesterday lunch about the Reproductive Health Bill that has been in hot water since the Philippine Catholic Church formed a drive against it.

To be honest, I’ve never read the bill until today. As a Catholic, a wife, a soon-to-be-mom and a woman, I don’t know why the Church is so aghast about it.

The way I see it, it is about giving Filipinos, especially the masses, a right to informed choices about “responsible” sexual intercourse and family planning. It is about educating the people, especially women and teenagers, about valuing their body and humanity. It is about valuing life and our dwindling resources.

I think that the Church is too focused on just one section (Sec. 10. Contraceptives as Essential Medicines) that they fail to see how the whole bill will benefit every person and even our country.

I am a Catholic, I believe in nurturing life. I believe that every person has the right to enjoy life. But as a member of a society, I believe I should be informed about my choices and consequences so that I could make the right decisions. As a woman and a wife, I believe that I should take care of my body, be properly educated on how to do so, and have access to these knowledge. And as a soon-to-be-mom, I believe in giving my child a world wherein he or she can enjoy the earth’s resources, not because it is a privilege for the few but because there is enough for everybody.

Why do you think we live in an overpopulated country with dwindling natural resources? I think it is because of the lack of education of the consequences of sex, whether premarital or not. It is high time that we learn about what we can do to help our society.

As I see it, when a family can control its size or the number of its members, first of all, the mother’s reproductive health is not compromised and, second, both parents can focus on each children, become good providers and responsible parents to them. By controlling the size of families, resources may be allocated in such a way that there is enough for every family, for every member of the society.

Moreover, feisty teenagers with uncontrollable libidos will be educated about the consequences of their future actions. They are informed of possible scenarios if and when they have sex. If they are made aware of the responsibilities lying ahead, they could make the same informed choices. And by the way, it does not say that the bill will legalize abortion for teenagers.

I think people should broaden their minds and understand the full context of the bill before coming to a “twisted” conclusion. You’re welcome to spread the link above if you want to read it in its entirety.

As for me, yes, I am for the bill. Not because I am anti-life, which is absolutely not true, but because I believe we, especially women and teenagers, should be made aware of our rights and privileges as human beings who are meant to be respected and taken care of.

Of course, this is just my opinion. You’re welcome to share yours.

No Comments

  • Maddog December 17, 2008 at 1:42 am

    I suggest you read the bill again, particularly Section 21. It is NOT merely about providing “informed choices”. Those choices are ALREADY available in any bookstore (for info) and convenience store (for the devices). The bill is really all about FORCING persons to provide artificial contraceptives (including abortifacients), even against their conscience.

    An analysis of the bill can be found in a position paper by Catholic alumni
    (PDF version — http://www.phnix.net/Position_Paper_Against_HB_5043.pdf ; online text — http://mamador.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/a-position-paper-against-hb-5043/ ), from which I quote:

    Section 21 (e) of the proposed bill lists the following as a prohibited act: “Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.” This provision is overly broad and “disinformation” could (and most probably will) be construed as prohibiting the expression of objections to the Bill, such as what we are presently doing. This provision is is obviously going to be used to suppress dissent, and is an undue restriction of freedom of speech. It has no place in any of the laws of a democratic nation.

    Section 17, on the other hand, mandates employers must provide such abortifacients and other contraceptives to employees. It states that, “All Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) shall provide for the free delivery by the employer of reasonable quantity of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers, more particularly women workers.” Employers, therefore, are not given any choice despite the fact that distribution of these abortifacients and contraceptives may be against their conscience.

    Section 21, number 5, requires doctors and health workers to dispense such abortifacients and other artificial contraceptive devices and methods. If they refuse to do so on religious grounds, they must still refer those who want to use such abortifacients to another person who will dispense them. Conscientious objectors are thereby required to cooperate in such acts, and if they refuse, they are slapped penalties ranging from one to six months imprisonment and a fine of P10,000-P50,000! HB 5043 eliminates any choice for conscientious objectors and makes no room for their legitimate concerns.

    This bill is all about COERCION. It deserves to be dumped.

    Reply
    • moonchild117 December 17, 2008 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks for commenting. I respect your opinions. I’ve read the bill again, particularly the sections mentioned in this reply. Honestly, and to you I may be reading the bill at face value, I don’t see anything that says that the bill forces people to “provide artificial contraceptives” against their conscience. With regards to Section 17, one may see it as forcing employers to distribute contraceptives, but on the other hand, it could be interpreted as the employer’s responsibility to take care of the wellbeing of his or her employees.

      Regarding Section 21 #5, the penalties are based on RA 8344, or “An Act Penalizing The Refusal of Hospitals and Medical Clinics to Administer Appropriate Initial Medical Treatment and Support in Emergency or Serious Cases, Amending for the Purpose Batas Pambansa Bilang 702, Otherwise Known as “An Act Prohibiting the Demand of Deposits or Advance Payments for the Confinement or Treatment of Patients in Hospitals and Medical Clinics in Certain Cases” (what a mouthful! Just Googled this, I’m no lawyer. :P). As I see it, if a person is considered an emergency case, regardless of cause, she must be administered medical assistance. I wouldn’t want to see any doctor or medical employee deny a woman medical assistance when in need. That’s just not right.

      And while the choices may be available today everywhere, what is needed is proper guidance.

      Forgive me for such simple arguments, I’m really not good at this. I guess we have different interpretations of the bill. But to tell you the truth, and I guess this is my bottomline, I hope that whatever the outcome of this bill may be the people, particularly women and youngsters, will learn to take care of their bodies and value their welfare.

      Thanks again for the comment!

      Reply
  • Maddog December 17, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    You have to look at the facts. I really doubt if you can make a case for condoms and the Pill as an “emergency treatment” in the great majority of cases. This is just an excuse to FORCE doctors to dispense contraceptives and make money for the pharmaceutical companies. I think you can see through that but are not simply willing to admit it.

    HB 5043 has NOTHING to do with health. if it did, then it would have provided funding and institutional support for basic health care, which will prevent over 90% of maternal deaths. But this bill doesn’t even do that.

    This same flaw has been noted in “An International Open Letter in Response to the 14 Signatories of the Ateneo Statement:” (http://monkshobbit.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/an-open-letter-in-response-to-the-14-signatories-of-the-ateneo-statement/), which said:

    Sections 6 and 7 of the Bill, which provide the only concrete health care and services to prevent or eliminate maternal mortality, are not mandatory, and the bill earmarks neither institutional support systems nor finances for their implementation. The POPCOM, which is established in Section 5 to implement and oversee the commitments outlined in the bill, has nine specific areas related to reproductive health and reproductive health services, yet no explicit mention of any responsibility in the area of maternal and ObGyn care. This most important section of the bill – and the only section actually consistent with Catholic social teaching – has been entirely neglected in the allocation of responsibilities to the agency established to oversee its implementation.

    Reply
  • moonchild117 December 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Hi! Thanks again for replying. Anyways, I may be wrong in interpreting it this way, but I think the “emergency treatment” addresses the problems related to reproductive health care as defined in the bill, for example, those with STDs or abused women or women with complicated pregnancies or women whose abortion went awry. Regardless of cause, they must be treated by doctors and medical practitioners.

    I believe Section 5 mentions maternal and ObGyne care when it considered maternal, peri-natal and post-natal education, care and services as one of the components of the Reproductive Health Care Program.

    HB 5043 is about health, specifically reproductive health, which will also address the issue of maternal deaths and other topics related to our reproductive system (family planning included). It is one factor of basic health care. Funding for overall basic health care is another topic, IMO. 😉

    Am I not willing to see the bill as “coercion?” That is because I don’t see it that way. I’m trying to look at the bigger picture here, and what the bill’s effect may be for us Filipinos, especially for us women. I don’t forgo any reasoning for or against the bill, rather I try to study what benefits us, what benefits me as a woman, a wife and a mother in these times.

    Thanks again! 😀

    Reply
  • Ipe Espinosa of Bacolod City February 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Here are some of the potential consequences of the passage into law of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill (HB O5043) which have dawned upon me; to wit:

    1.0 BIG BUSINESS, BIGGER MONEY. If RH Bill passes into law, condom suppliers may earn from the Philippine government (which will be mandated to distribute free condoms to 4.9 million youth aged 15-27), PhP 2.548 billion every year. (Or 4.9 million youth times 1 sex act per week times 52 weeks per year times condom usage of 1 piece per sex act times supplier’s price of P10 per piece of condom.) The assumption of a youth engaging in sex at the average of once a week, I am afraid, is in order and conservative. It will be unthinkable for a young student to obey the reminder of his RH teacher or older relatives that abstinence is the most effective birth control method when that young student is aware, the government is duty-bound to provide him or her with free condom for his or her sexual cravings anytime, anywhere. Condom supply is therefore a big business if RH Bill passes into law. Nevertheless, what is bigger money is when government canvassers, signatories of purchase orders, receivers of condom deliveries, as well as check payment signatories and releasers may connive with condom suppliers to price the condom at P 100 per piece instead of P 10. The over price of P 90 per piece of condom will be distributed among the involved government officials. Therefore, due to the passage of the RH Bill, there is an opportunity for a PhP 25.48 billion condom scam to happen.

    2.0 BOARS AND GILTS. These 4.9 million youth who are recipients of the government’s free supply of condoms may naturally crave for sex like animals (considering the additional enticement from the immodest mass media and the internet pornography). The young male may act like boar while the young female behaves like gilt that is in heat. This promiscuity or multiple sexual relationships, is probably just a take off point. The Law of Diminishing Extra Satisfaction (as adopted from the psychological and economic law of diminishing marginal utility) that governs pure human and animal endeavors including sexual relations will be fully operational. In other words, if sex will be a preoccupation of the Filipino youth, then the satisfaction that a young male derives having sex with female partner/s, will decrease or wane eventually. He then ventures to partner sexually with his fellow male/s to seek new level of satisfaction. He may push further by engaging in bisexual activities. But most likely he will end up as a pure homosexual. A young female may also follow the same path as she craves for sex and sexual satisfactions. She may graduate as a pure lesbian. But this scenario will not be glaring overnight. It will take a generation – ten years span. This may then translate to the need of a new advocacy – to support the passing into law of the bill on same-sex marriages and divorce in the country.

    3.0 POPULATION REDUCTION. The ultimate aim of RH Bill, I understand, is achieving economic prosperity (particularly for the poor) however through population reduction approach. In case the RH Bill is passed, its success will be measured therefore by, among others, whether its respective population reduction target (PRT) is attained. And the critical factor in attaining PRT is the effective distribution and use of condom of the 4.9 million Filipino youth in particular. Effective means here, making a condom available for free, on demand of the youth, either male or female, anywhere, anytime. As mentioned above, this will cost the Philippine government, PhP 2.548 billion every year. If the government will have limited or doesn’t have that amount of taxpayers’ money (for condom purchase and distribution) then the full attainment of the PRT will be jeopardized. Thus RH Law may prove to be ineffective to reduce population in the country. If this is the case, other population reduction measures or Bills will be therefore sought. So there will be a future need to support for the passage into law of Pro-abortion Bills as well as of Pro-euthanasia Bills.

    So then, to all the RH Bill advocates, if your support for the passage into law of RH Bill (which may lead to additional opportunity for corruptions in the Philippine government, to transformation of the Filipino youth as homosexuals and lesbians, to eventual murder of unborn babies and to future mercy-killing of senior citizens, etc.) makes your Mama proud of you, then go full speed ahead of your RH Bill advocacy. Otherwise, please resign as a RH Bill supporter and lobby harder for our legislators to vote against RH Bill.

    Reply
    • moonchild117 February 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks for your insights. People have different views on the topic and this blog is always welcome to entertain your opinions. For now, I’ll leave my readers (however few) to decide whether they are for against it. Thanks again. 🙂

      Reply

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