The Reproductive Health Bill
Over the years, several bills have been filed in both the Senate and Congress, proposing alaw on “reproductive health”; all provoked the most polarizing public debates. It seems hard tothink as to why some people are still against it when almost the entire world has been practicingcontraception, family planning and such. This paper will try to examine the real issues involvedand why the proposed bill has divided our country once again.The House Bill No. 5043, more commonly known as the Reproductive Health Bill of 2008, which is in substitution to House Bill Nos. 17 (Adolescent Reproductive Health), 812(Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development), 2753 (Women'sRight to Know Act) and 3970 (Bill Enhancing the Philippines’ Labor Dispute SettlementSystem) was introduced during the first regular session of the 14th Congress by Honorable(s)Edcel C. Lagman, Janette L. Garin, Narciso D. Santiago III, Mark Llandro Mendoza, AnaTheresia Hontiveros-Baraquel and Elandro Jesus F. Madrona.The bill declares that in accordance with the state policy, it upholds and promotesresponsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity withinternationally recognized human rights standards. It shall then uphold the right of the people,particularly women and their organizations; to effective and reasonable participation in the bill’sformulation and implementation. This policy is anchored on the rationale that sustainable humandevelopment is better assured with a manageable population of healthy, educated and productivecitizens. What are guaranteed by the state are the universal access to medically-safe, legal,affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant
information. It however prioritizes the needs of women and children, among otherunderprivileged sectors (Lagman, et.al. 2008).However, some people believe that the term “reproductive health” used in this bill is notconcerned with the safe, licit and natural generation and moral upbringing of any new humanbeing. They said that instead of its plain meaning “referring to a person’s health in both body andmind, in the mature and responsible use of his or her reproductive organs and faculties; itsprimary concern is the safe, licit and natural generation and proper upbringing of a new humanbeing (a child)”, it is anchored with the United Nation’s definition stating that “reproductiverights” refers to what an individual wants to do with his or her body and sexuality, including butnot limited to the ‘right to abortion’ (Tatad, 2008). Let us now try to examine the two sides of both issue and why only one must prevail.It is better to take the issue on the population first as the other issues follow after it. Theproponents of the RH Bill of 2008 do not claim that planning is the panacea for poverty. Itsimply recognizes the verifiable link between a huge population and poverty. They argued thatbased on studies, high fertility rate affects and are affected by poverty. According to ThomasMalthus, high fertility and poverty are relative with each other. In the latest data of the NationalDemographic and Health Survey (2003), it shows that poverty incidence is less than 10% for afamily with one child; but it rises steadily with the number of children to 57% for a family withnine or more children. Moreover, larger families make less investment per child in human capital,investments that are crucial in breaking the chain of intergenerational poverty (Pernia, et al,2008).Now with the issue of population control, family planning comes into the scene. Tatad(2008) said that while National Security Study Memorandum: Implications of Worldwide
Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests (NSSM200) did not specify abortionas a preferred family planning method, the report observed that “no country has reduced itspopulation growth without resorting to...