The first time the Reproductive Health Bill was proposed was in 1998. During the present 15th Congress, the RH Bills filed are those authored by House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman of Albay, HB 96; Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, HB 101, Akbayan Representatives Kaka Bag-ao & Walden Bello; HB 513, Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon, HB 1160, Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco, HB 1520, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan. In the Senate, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed her own version of the RH bill which, she says, will be part of the country’s commitment to international covenants. On January 31, 2011, the House of Representatives Committee on Population and Family Relations voted to consolidate all House versions of the bill, which is entitled An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development and for Other Purposes.
One of the main concerns of the bill, according to the Explanatory Note, is that 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.”
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well- being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. In line with the above definition of reproductive health, reproductive health care is defined as the constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being through preventing and solving reproductive health problems.
It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases. 7.3. Bearing in mind the above definition, reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other relevant United Nations consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual.
There are 6 bills pertaining to reproductive health and/or population management that have been filed for deliberation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the 15th Congress.
The most controversial of these bills is House Bill No. 96 authored by Rep. Edcel Lagman. House Bill No. 96, also known as the proposed “Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2010,” will cover the following areas:
•midwives of skilled attendance
•emergency obstetric care
•access to family planning
•maternal death review
•family planning supplies as essential medicines
•benefits for serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions
•mobile health care service
•mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education
•responsibility of local family planning office and certificate of compliance
•capability building of barangay health workers
•ideal family size
The bill is controversial, as it is being opposed by concerned citizens, especially the pro-life, pro-family and pro-God groups, regardless of creed or religion. The Roman Catholic Church expresses its opposition against the bill on many counts, most especially the procurement and distribution of family planning supplies for the whole country, when the available evidence from peer reviewed medical journals supports the hypothesis that when ovulation and fertilization occur in women taking oral contraceptives (OCs) or using intrauterine devices (IUD), post-fertilization effects are operative on occasion to prevent clinically recognized pregnancy. Hormonal contraceptives and/or IUDs directly affect the endometrium. These effects have been presumed to render the endometrium relatively inhospitable to implantation or to the maintenance of the preembryo or embryo prior to clinically recognized pregnancy. These make pills and IUDS abortifacient.
Pro-life groups, and many professionals in the medical and nursing fields, believe that physicians and policy makers should understand and respect the beliefs of patients who consider human life to be present and valuable from the moment of fertilization. Patients should be made fully aware of this information so that they can consent to or refuse the use of artificial contraceptives.
However, the position of the Catholic Church and the pro-life groups does not mean that they espouse the attitude of “natalism” at all costs, as if the “number” of children, in itself, were the unmistakable sign of authentic christian matrimonial life.
The sexual act, properly exercised within marriage only, is ordained primarily to the propagation of life. If there are reasonable motives for spacing births, such as serious medical conditions in the mother, or extreme poverty, then the Catholic Church teaches that married couples may take advantage of the natural cycles of the reproductive system and use their marriage precisely those times that are infertile (natural family planning).
Other aspects of the bill being contested by concerned citizens include the classification of family planning supplies as essential medicines when their safety/toxicity profile and legal permissibility are questionable. At the same time, more importance should be given to the prevalent diseases, the top ten leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines, namely, infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Financial resources allotted by foreign donors to assist the Philippine government programs could actually be better spent towards pursuing health programs targeting communicable diseases than purchasing artificial contraceptives.
Very pertinent to the debate about reproduction rights is the right to life. The Philippine Constitution says that the State “shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. If artificial contraceptives are medically proven to induce abortion as one of their mechanisms of action, then procurement and distribution of such family planning supplies are unconstitutional and illegal.
Benefits of the RH Bill
Allow couples to make decision to plan for their families
The RH Bills gives the couples and the women, specifically, the choice and freedom on the mode of family planning they want to pursue depending on their needs, choice, personal convictions and religious beliefs. But the RH Bill is not just about the family planning Prevents spread of sexually transmitted disease like aids and STDs and eventually control population growth necessary for economic development The liberal minds view the RH Bill as a strategy in fighting overpopulation and the spreading of AID and STD diseases. That’s what they say. They believe that the natural way of family planning is passe in this time of modern age. They want children as early as in their pre-teens to be taught about sex education.
Enhance woman’s health as she will be able to determine when to get pregnant The women can determine when they want to get pregnant. Through this will, it will ensure the health of the women, which can be put to risk with pre-existing condition such as diabetes or pregnancies with not much gap or spaced-closed together. They will gain more control over their bodies and health. This will also ensure the children of having a healthy mother to take care of them.
Prevents unwanted pregnancy
It can be argued, in fact, that in guaranteeing information on and access to “medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality” natural and modern family planning methods (sec. 2), the bill seeks “to prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies” the main cause of induced abortions